SOUTH SHORE — South Side residents are planning to “take over” Edgewater’s Foster Beach Aug. 3 in protest of parking restrictions limiting access to public facilities.
The event’s organizer, West Pullman resident Tanesha Peeples, said this summer has brought to her attention some stark differences in the way parking is handled at Chicago’s beaches.
At 3:30 p.m. one day in June, she asked officers standing watch in the Margaret T. Burroughs Beach lot near 31st Street why no one was being allowed to park there even though the beach closed at 11 p.m. She said she was told the officers were just obeying orders from their commander.
Peeples noticed the same situation in July at 63rd Street Beach, about three hours before the beach closed. She asked officers about the restrictions and was given the same story.
Curious about her findings, Peeples said she took a drive north up Lake Shore Drive to run an unscientific experiment. She visited North Avenue Beach and Montrose Beach and didn’t notice the same restrictions.
“I’ve been at the beach and seen gridlock when the parking wasn’t regulated. I understand that perspective,” Peeples said. “But if that’s the case, regulate all the beaches.”
Access to the parking lot is denied when the lot reaches capacity, and is allowed again as spaces become available, Chicago Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Rocco Alioto said in a statement.
Peeples said she called the department’s 3rd District station after her 63rd Street Beach visit, and was told her parking access was limited so emergency vehicles could enter the lot.
She understands the officers need to take precautions, and the South Side has “kind of a track record for violent incidents,” she said. But Peeples worries there are “underlying reasons” officers won’t discuss about their focus on South Side beaches.
“I don’t want to make this a racial, black-versus-white thing,” she said. “But in reality, that’s what it is in a segregated city — this is about police relations with the black community.”
It’s a fine line between emergency preparedness and over-policing, Peeples said, and she isn’t sure where this issue falls.
“I understand that incidents of violence happen, but it shouldn’t be something the entire community has to suffer from,” Peeples said. “Drama can happen anywhere.”
The Facebook event she organized in response has garnered more than 100 interested residents.
There will be face-painting and music, but the meetup “isn’t just a kick-it session,” Peeples said. She’s putting in work to pull some lasting benefit out of the afternoon.
A GoFundMe to raise $1,000 for a school supply giveaway the day of the takeover has seen more than $400 donated as of July 23.
So far, Peeples has heard no negative feedback from North Siders about her plans — not that she’s heard any at all, outside of her friends who live there, she said.
With positive programming and a relaxed atmosphere, the takeover is “not to be messy or convene a large party,” Peeples said. “I want us to know we have access, we have power, we have a voice and the city needs to acknowledge that.”
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