IRVING PARK — In a battle to keep the Irving Park Blue Line stop free of pigeon poop, State Rep. Jaime Andrade Jr. recorded himself asking two people to stop feeding the pigeons there.
But one woman, with a bag of rice in her hand, defiantly cursed at him and proceeded to feed the pigeons during the politician’s Facebook Live video.
“She literally threw the rice under the sign that says it’s a $500 fine to feed the pigeons,” Andrade told Block Club Chicago Tuesday afternoon. “The frustrating part is, if people keep feeding the pigeons I will never be able to solve this situation.”
Since last Thursday, both Ald. John Arena (45th) and Andrade, a democrat who represents the state’s 40th District, have posted images of city crews power-washing the CTA station. The two men have been coordinating the cleanup of the station while trying to find a “a longterm solution” to “chronic pigeon issues” at the location, according to Arena’s office.
To get the “deep clean” done, Andrade said he’s had to navigate the overlapping jurisdictions of the Chicago Transit Authority, Metra and state and city departments of transportation that are responsible for the Irving Park Blue Line stop.
So running into two people going out in the middle of the night to feed the pigeons, after city crews had powerwashed the area, was very frustrating, he said.
Andrade went live on Facebook around 12:55 a.m. Tuesday to follow up with the crews scheduled to continue power-washing the Blue Line stop overnight.
The video begins with him getting into his car and heading to a Dunkin’ Donuts, 3310 W. Addison St., to grab a latte before heading to the CTA train station.
“Thank you for joining me. I’m heading right over to the Irving Park Blue Line station to see if the crews are out there right now,” Andrade said.
As the video continues Andrade makes small talk, about the price of dental braces for his daughter as well as the equipment the city crew used to power-wash the station the day before, to the viewers who had tuned into his early-morning broadcast.
The confrontation begins at the 35-minute mark:
“And I went to my hapkido class. I had a good hapkido class,” he said, referencing the Korean martial art. “Starting to learn how to use nunchucks, so that was interesting.”
Once Andrade arrives at the Irving Park Blue Line station he becomes upset with the fresh pigeon droppings on the sidewalk.
“That was power-washed on Thursday. Oh man, I can’t believe it. Someone just fed the pigeons. Just fed them,” he said. Next, the video shows him looking around the area and then walking over to a dark SUV with a man and woman inside of it parked by station’s bus turnabout.
“Did you just feed the pigeons? Did you just feed the pigeons?” Andrade said. “Please don’t feed the pigeons. Please don’t feed the pigeons. Please.”
The woman responds by saying that the birds don’t need to be killed and aggressively yells profanities at Andrade as he continues to film her. In the video the SUV appears to have multiple bags of rice in its trunk, and the woman is seen carrying a bag of rice as well.
“If someone’s watching, can you please just call the police,” Andrade said.
Michael Carroll, a police spokesperson, said officers responded to a report of an “assault in progress” in the 4100 block of West Irving Park Road at about 12:30 a.m. Tuesday.
“A [third] party contacted police regarding a live-video broadcast on social media. Police met with the victim who relayed that he videotaped a woman throwing rice onto the street and sidewalk to feed the pigeons in violation of Chicago Municipal Code,” Carroll said. “After dropping the rice, the female and a male companion left the scene.”
As the argument continues, the video shows the woman walking away from the parked car with a bag of what looks like rice to feed pigeons while Rep. Andrade continues to ask her to stop feeding the birds.
The man and woman began to sweep up the rice and place it back into a bag in the SUV, but the situation escalates again and the woman walks over to throw more rice on the sidewalk while screaming at Andrade.
“Ma’am, please do not feed the pigeons. The powerwasher is right here. I’m just going to have them clean up and remove all the rice,” Andrade said.
Andrade told Block Club he filed a non-criminal report with the officers who arrived on the scene after the man and woman had already driven away.
“What I don’t understand, I thought feeding them rice was bad for pigeons. And afterwards there were rats who came out to feed on the rice, too,” Andrade said.
The amount of pigeon feces the city crews have cleared since the deep clean began last week is substantial and he worries it could be a health hazard, he said.
“We had a crew out there cleaning again today, too. It’s ludicrous how much money is being spent because of at least two people out feeding those pigeons,” Andrade said Tuesday. “There’s so much that needs to be done at the Irving Park Blue Line station, like the new escalator or getting new elevators. We’re trying to make it where people have a comfortable experience.”
Regarding the pigeon poop, Andrade wants to look into additional barriers to keep them from nesting at the station, or using natural pest control like spraying a spicy pepper liquid on the ledges where the birds hang out.
“With all due respect to PETA, we’re going to have to figure something out. Relocate these pigeons or something,” he said. “This is a citywide problem. Maybe do something like deer control, if we can’t solve the situation without non-lethal methods.”