BLACK POLITICIANS SHOULD NOT BE COMPLICIT IN THE DESTRUCTION OF BLACK COMMUNITIES?
This weekend Repair Restore And Grow Black Communities was invited to attend a rally in support of an establishment on the West Side of Chicago. The business's name is One Eleven Food & Liquors, a retail at 111 N Kedzie located in East Garfield Park. Mr. Searcy, the owner, has serviced the community at this site for 42 years. However, his livelihood, the extension of wealth to his family and the support that he is providing to his community is being attacked by Gentrification, which has brought developers, venture capitalists with innovative ideas and new residents including immigrants who have come to this country for a better life. The store has been closed and the liquor license revoked.
It is apparent that no one has regard for existing black businesses and the communities they serve. Instead they become complicit with inequitable and racist policies that have impacted Black people in this country for over 400 years. Aspirations and Ideas are fostered and brought into fruition with no real understanding and concern for the suffering that their endeavor is going to have on the existing Black businesses and their customers.
East Garfield Park situated on the westside of Chicago is a predominantly Black community that is being gentrified. The Accion, a latino owned financial lending institution and the Hatchery, is a Guatemalan owned community based kitchen developed adjacent to the Black owned One Eleven Food & Liquors at 111 N. Kedzie.
The Hatchery and Acciom development was a $34 million dollar project. According to the Hatchery fact sheet, the City of Chicago and its affiliates provided a portion of the land, grants, tax increment financing, and new market tax credits to help reduce the debt the project carried. Both entities with the support of the city and mostly new residents have pushed for Mr. Searcy’s establishment, across the street, to be closed. However, to the contrary, both the owner of One Eleven Food & Liquors and many longtime residents who benefit from this business want it to stay open.
The complaint is excessive loitering. Yet, if you take a drive past many other businesses in the area you will observe a similar scenario. And most of these establishments are owned by immigrants who have immersed their businesses into predominantly Black communities for over 30 plus years, while having no intention or sense of obligation to reinvest. Subsequently, through their collective efforts, many small Black owned businesses are unable to compete and have been pushed out. This manner of behavior has led to limiting the circulation of dollars within the Black community, where unfortunately it only lasts for 6 hours. At the end of the day these individual proprietors return to wholesome and lavish communities throughout the city and suburban areas, along with their profits, while the communities they have profited from are left helpless and barely able to thrive.
Why was Mr. Searcy’s establishment singled out? Why was he not included in this massive and innovative project? Certainly a $34 million dollar food and Beverage incubator along with a lending institution who claims to “ work to develop all stages of food business and all types of food and beverage companies.” Why wouldn't they want to collaborate with someone who is not only a representative of the community but has thrived for over 4 four decades.
The representatives and organizations within the community who came together to support this grand endeavor should have considered One Eleven Food & Liquors as a contribution instead of a displacement.
The Community Support for the Hatchery includes:
Congressman Danny Davis
Alderman Walter Burnett
Alderman Jason Ervin
Breakthrough Urban Ministries
Garfield Park Community Council
New Moms / Bright Endeavor
Garfield Park Neighborhood Market
City of Chicago
Help at Home CityScape
Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance
Garfield Park Garden Network
These supporters were certainly aware of the loitering that was taking place. Mr. Searcey is being unfairly treated. He has done everything possible including hiring security guards, installing a fence around his property, and placing no loitering signs on the property. Additionally, he has asked the individuals not to loiter. While he can control what happens on his property, he should neither be responsible nor penalized for what people do outside of his property. A grocery store and liquor store are not a nuisance. It is the responsibility of the alderman and the police to address unwanted congregating.
It is the belief of Mr. Searcy, his family, and members of the community that the new inhabitants of the community along with developers want Mr. Searcy’s 0.147 acres of land. The attack is fierce. He is under the threat of losing his liquor license and the store is currently closed.
Mr. Searcy has created many jobs for people in the community over the years.
One Eleven Food & Liquors is an integral part of Garfield Park.
It is imperative that he remains!
Repair Restore And Grow Black Communities is a not for profit organization who is supporting the charge led by Siri Hibbler, Executive Director of Garfield Park Chamber of Commerce in correcting a problem that threatens the existence of Black communities throughout this city.