The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Brighton Park Tent Camp on Hold

Dec 11, 2023

For months, Mayor Brandon Johnson’s office has been planning to build a tent camp to house migrants on a former industrial site in Brighton Park, on Chicago’s Southwest Side. The plot at 38th and California had been used by a zinc smelter, a rail yard, and for parking trucks. Initial tests showed mercury, arsenic, and lead contaminants in the soil.

No matter, the city said, that could be cleaned up during the preparation for the site. Work had just begun, with tent structures going up, when Governor Pritzker and the Illinois EPA stepped in, putting the project on hold.

Anyone who’s been through a Chicago winter knows that a tent camp is a terrible idea for housing. There has been a lot of pushback in the neighborhood for months. Currently the city is housing 13,500 migrants in shelters, with 580 still occupying police stations and even O’Hare and Midway airports—down from several thousand months ago.

For the migrants, coming from countries like Venezuela, this has been a mess every way you look at it. Chicago is a wealthy city, with lots of vacant office buildings downtown. But all it can offer to the migrants is a toxic lot with tents, in the winter.