When Warren reached out to me about 30th United after seeing my tweets criticizing Reboyras's lack of communication, it felt like the perfect outlet for my disillusionment with our Alderperson and our city leaders in general.
After the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police in late May, I became incensed by the fact that our city leadership continued their blind support for police after witnessing not only what was going on around the country, but police brutality in our own city as a concerted overreaction to protests.
It was confounding to see our so-called "progressive" city sit by as the residents of Chicago demanded change to the city's reliance on police as a solution to public safety. For a Mayor that pretends to want input from residents, Lori Lightfoot seems hellbent on ignoring calls to defund the police. Meanwhile, our cop-loving Alderperson can't even bring himself to acknowledge the negative effects of policing on communities of color, let alone use his platform for anything other than propping up police.
All of that is to say, like many other people around the country, I was left feeling frustrated by the inaction of our "leaders," and left wondering what I could personally do to work toward a more racially equitable city.
Begin my quest to speak with Alderperson Ariel Reboyras
I started in June by sending an email to Reboyras asking him to explain his stance on CPAC, removing School Resource Officers (SROs) from CPS, and Defunding CPD. I'm sure it comes as no surprise to other residents that have tried to contact Reboyras that I never got a response to my email, so about a week later I tried to attend the "Ward Night" at his office.
When I arrived at his office, I knocked on the locked door several times before getting no answer from the office by phone, and ultimately giving up and walking home. Blasting him on Twitter also wasn't working, so I called his office a couple of days later and was told that Ward Nights were cancelled due to the pandemic. Which, don't get me wrong, totally makes sense, but perhaps communicate that on your website, on the office door, or on your social media channels?
When I asked about why I never got a response to my email, I was basically told:
"We receive over 2,000 emails everyday, we cannot respond to all of them."
Again, I understand that it is hard to read every communication from residents that comes in, but I wasn't asking about some personal or obscure request, I was asking his stance on issues that thousand of Chicagoans were actively protesting about. I didn't need him to respond back to me directly, I would have been happy if he put out a public statement that explained his positions. Granted, knowing some of his historical stances and that his only tweets during the protests were pro-police, I have a feeling I know what his stances would have been—but he should have to communicate them to his constituents.
I called his office a couple of more times, post-it notes were supposedly put on his desk, and I even tried emailing his scheduler at the suggestion of his office staff.
I essentially tried to reach my Alderperson via every method of communication I could think of, and never heard back. To me personally, it seems as though this lack of communication is intentional on his part, perhaps so that he doesn't have to answer tough questions on the impact of his blind support of police.
Enter Warren Williams, Corraler of the Disillusioned
In the middle of my quest to contact Reboyras, Warren messaged me on Twitter letting me know that he was exploring starting an Independent Political Organization (IPO), and asked if I wanted to set up a Zoom call to discuss what changes I would like to see in our ward. I accepted the invite and vented to Warren a couple of days later, outlining my experience described above.
Since then, we've had a Zoom meeting every other week with several other 30th Ward residents who want to push more progressive policies in our ward than our Alderperson is supporting. It quickly became clear that what was soon to become -and now is!- 30th United was going to be a great, productive outlet for my pent up feelings that I had no influence in the policies and services my tax dollars were helping pay for in the city. Now with 30th United, I feel we have a chance to change things for the better.
I am looking forward to help building up 30th United and collectively pushing for progressive policies in our ward and the city. It is encouraging to me that we have an organization that isn't tied to a specific politician, but instead aimed at making the place we live safer, and more supportive for all of its residents. We will be here after Reboyras's term is up in 2023, and maybe in the meantime, we can collectively get him to respond to our requests.