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New ‘Anti-Racist Andersonville’ Group To Protest Obama Mural Defacement With Rally Friday

Anti-Racist Andersonville was formed in response to a number of racist incidents in the neighborhood, including the writing of "Hang Obama" in chalk along Clark Street.

A mural of President Barack Obama on the side of Candyality in Andersonville was defaced.
Joe Ward/Block Club Chicago
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ANDERSONVILLE — A newly formed social justice coalition in Andersonville will stage a rally Friday to denounce the defacing of a Barack Obama mural and other recent acts of racism in the neighborhood.

Anti-Racist Andersonville will hold its first public event at 5 p.m. Friday, when the group will meet outside Candyality’s mural that was vandalized last week. For more information on the rally, click here.

The mural, which depicts famous people including Obama and Sigmund Freud, was defaced by someone who used black spray paint to cover Obama’s face. The graffiti has been removed and the mural restored shortly after the act of vandalism.

The vandalism was just the latest act of racial intolerance in Andersonville.

A week before the mural incident, antique shop Brimfield began facing boycotts and protests after its owner called the police on a chalking demonstration and removed pro-Black Lives Matter statements from the sidewalk outside its store. In response, over 100 people protested outside Brimfield in the rain last week, denouncing the business owners for the chalking incident and their previous social media statements that are anti-Black Lives Matter.

RELATED: Barack Obama Mural In Andersonville Vandalized: ‘It’s Abhorrent’

In another incident, someone chalked “hang Obama” outside a Clark Street business, according to Anti-Racist Andersonville.

The group formed in response to these incidents and is seeking to make Andersonville a more inclusive and safe place to work and live, said Caitlin Botsios, a member of Anti-Racist Andersonville.

“In a neighborhood that is predominantly white liberal, we need to have a conversation about what is allowed in our neighborhood,” said Botsios, co-founder of Helix Cafe. “We acknowledge we’ve got some problems, and that there needs to be more than one day of action.”

This racist chalk statement was found in Andersonville around the same time a Barack Obama mural in the neighborhood was defaced. [Courtesy Sean Connolly]

Anti-Racist Andersonville formed in late June. It was started by a group of local business owners who previously collaborated on Chicago Therapy Collective’s “hire trans now” campaign in the neighborhood.

The group is using the Friday rally as a kick-off of sorts. The rally will include a diverse group of speakers and performers who will speak to the experience of people of color in Andersonville and how the neighborhood can be more welcoming, Botsios said. A livestream of the event will be available on Facebook for those wishing to stay socially distant.

Moving forward, the group wants to act as a place where people can go to report incidents of racism and exclusion. Plus, the group wants to be proactive on the issues, including holding workers town halls and creating resource lists for how businesses can be anti-racist and elevate Black voices and vendors.

“There isn’t a central Andersonville body, one place to go for concerns,” Botsios said. “We want to discuss, what does action look like? How are we crafting that with policy in mind?”

Anti-Racist Andersonville is seeking to grow its membership to include more neighborhood residents and Clark Street workers. To join the group, fill out an interesting form by clicking here, or check out the Anti-Racist Andersonville Facebook group here.

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