"The Center on Halsted and queer direct-action organization Gender JUST are ensnared in a public debate over mediation practices at the Center after Gender JUST launched a petition urging the Center to adopt practices that the facility says it already has in place." Read the rest of Windy City Times' coverage here.
For the whole article: http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php?AID=32676
[...] Organizers from LGBT youth organization Gender JUST charged that
response efforts around crime in Lakeview will result in increased
racial profiling of youth.
"What are you taking back?" asked Joshua McCool, at a Gender JUST press
conference before the event. "You own Boystown. There are no spaces for
queer youth of color."
McCool argued that white Cubs fans are given leeway when drunk and out
of control, but that youth of color are implicated as a whole when one
youth does something wrong. He also argued that Lakeview was one of the
lowest-crime areas in the city and asked why more was not being done for
Gender JUST protested a recent "positive loitering" walk organized by
the same residents who organized massive turnout at the CAPS meeting.
The group has since taken heat from "Take Back Boystown" activists who
say that they are distracting from solutions to crime.
Gender JUST youth were not the only ones present in protest of recent
conversations. Older community members as well youth who access services
at Broadway Youth Center also came to speak their disapproval, many of
them arguing that the conversation had become racist.
[...] Rob Sall, the activist who created the "Take Back Boystown" page and
shot the video of the stabbing, said the meeting was a positive start
despite frustrations. "I think that everybody in the room understands
the points that Gender JUST was making," he said. "But the purpose of
the CAPS meeting was to address crime, not to fix the problems of the
Still, official organizers of the meeting and Gender JUST seemed to
miss each other on a few key issues. While many residents said they
wanted more police to protect the entire community including youth,
Gender JUST has historically campaigned against the police, advocating
for alternative strategies to violence. Also, while a few did complain
that the Center on Halsted was attracting trouble to the neighborhood,
Gender JUST also doesn't support the Center because it claims that it is
unwelcoming to youth.
But others, like [Gender JUST Member] Joshua McCool, said shifting the blame to loiterers
was a veiled attempt to scapegoat young, vulnerable minorities. “The
idea that race is not part of this is ridiculous,” said McCool, a member
of a grassroots organization for LGBTQ youth. [...] “Because obviously
it's not just about being queer, because Boystown consists of queers,
white queers, white men, middle class men. So this is a race issue.”
Prior to the CAPS meeting, members of the LGBT organization Gender
JUST held a press conference in front of the school to discuss their
concerns about LGBT youths of color being blamed for crime in the area. [...] “Boystown has one of the lowest rates of violence in Chicago,” said
Joshua McCool, of Gender JUST. “You cannot use this as a way to profile
people.” [...] Many of the Gender JUST members also spoke at the CAPS meeting, expressing similar concerns.
As Gender JUST protested outside, a crowd estimated at over 500 people,
ranging from neighborhood residents, business owners and patrons, LGBT
gay youth and their supporters and Chicago media, packed into the
auditorium of the Inter-American Elementary School, 851 W. Waveland
Also, check out the audio for a snippet of Gender JUST members speaking.“When it’s someone of color that’s caught in the act of violence, it’s
something that reflects on the entire community,” said Joshua McCool, a
member of the LGBT activist group Gender JUST. The group describes
itself as a grassroots organization of queer and transgender youth of