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Though the weather remained wet and cold following Tuesday's snowstorm, hundreds turned out Wednesday evening to protest Chicago Ald. James Cappleman's perceived "war on the poor" of his 46th North Side ward.
Per the Windy City Times, more than 200 protesters packed into almost a full city block in front of Cappleman's 4544 N. Broadway ward services office and chanted, "Food and housing is a right, not just for the rich and white."
The protest stemmed largely from a Chicago Sun-Times report last week that said Cappleman told the Salvation Army it needed to cease its practice of feeding the hungry and homeless of his Uptown ward from a mobile truck each weekday.
"He decided he felt the unit was pulling homeless into the area, and he does not want us to feed them," Capt. Nancy Powers, who oversees the Salvation Army’s homeless program in the city, told the paper last week.
That report galvanized activists to form a Facebook group and organize Wednesday's large protest on the fly. Protesters at the demonstration accused Cappleman of being "at war" with the poor of the ward, a suggestion that Tressa Feher, Cappleman's chief of staff, balked at, according to DNAinfo Chicago.
"I'm not exactly sure what their goal is — the alderman is doing as much as he can for some of the groups they're talking about, and I think he's being characterized unfairly," Feher told DNAinfo.
By Thursday morning, it appeared that Cappleman and Powers had arrived at some sort of mutual understanding, according to a new report from DNAinfo. The two reportedly met Wednesday before the demonstration.
"We both agree that there is more work we all can do to combat this problem," Cappleman said in a statement to DNAinfo. "We both also agree that it’s time for all social services in the 46th ward to come together and work together."
The Salvation Army, at least for now, will continue offering its services to Uptown's homeless population. And protesters are channeling their lingering displeasure with Cappleman into a new community coalition forged via Facebook: Uptown Uprising.
For his part, the Sun-Times' Mark Brown -- who wrote the original report on Cappleman's Salvation Army dustup -- wrote that the alderman is now "free to show he’s serious about helping homeless" in his ward, particularly when it comes to the fate of the single-room occupancy (SRO) Wilson Men's Hotel. The hotel is reportedly at risk of being shuttered, seemingly presenting its current low-income residents with few remaining options but homelessness.