Rogers Park Takes a Stand, Hands out Message of Hope to Residents

Marc Rosales II | The PHOENIXRogers Park resident are putting “Hate Has No Home Here” signs in their front lawns.

A Chicago neighborhood is offering its residents a sign of solidarity in response to feeling a community divide from President Donald J. Trump’s time in office thus far. The Rogers Park area Alderman office is now handing out “Hate Has No Home Here” signs and stickers for locals to display on lawns or windows.

The declaration is non-partisan, according to the 49th ward’s office, but some have expressed their concern that the ward is taking a political stance by supplying residents with a message that was popularly used in response to Trump’s campaign rhetoric on immigrants and other minorities, with support of mass deportation and a spike in hate crimes following his election.

“In the current political context, the message has a clear anti-Trump partisan implication,” said Loyola political science professor Claudio Katz. “So, a political group or party should spend its dollars to fund the message, but not the government of the ward. That is, the government of the ward should not spend public funds for partisan purposes at all.”

The signs weren’t purchased with public funds by the 49th Ward. They originated from the Hollywood-North Park Community Association and are becoming more popular, with nearly 200 homes in the Rogers Park area showing off the signs in their lawns.

In addition to the large number of signs, Rogers Park is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the city, with nearly 59.6 percent of the area identifying as a race other than white (hispanic, black, mixed, asian, other).

“Our office received our first delivery of ‘Hate Has No Home Here’ signs at the end of January, and there has been nothing but positive response to the signs,” said Ann Hinterman, staff assistant to 49th Ward Alderman Joe Moore. “We’ve had a number of constituents stop by specifically to pick up the signs in response to our email newsletters, Facebook posts or by word of mouth. We’ve needed to restock several times.”

Carmen Rodriguez, the founder of the movement, began “Hate Has No Home Here” in her neighborhood to address the increase in hate crimes during the election. Her daughter, Lucy Rodriguez, has followed in her footsteps by creating a similar movement aimed directly at college students.

“The idea sprouted when someone agreed to turn the phrase into a poster, and slowly, and then all too quickly, the posters became really popular, not just in Chicago, but all over the country,” said Cornell University first-year student Lucy. She has since founded the Peaceful Poster Movement to activate college students in politics.

“Window posters turned into lawn signs and stickers and door hangers. The campaign is intentionally non-partisan, which is a common misconception,” said Lucy. “The colors of the posters are the colors of our country’s flag, not indicative of any political party, religion, sexual orientation or ideology. Its purpose is to declare different locations and institutions as places where all are welcomed regardless of their identity.”

Carmen doesn’t think it’s wrong for elected officials to share the message, and even encourages anyone in positions of power to help spread the movement.

“We’re about making sure our neighbors in our community know that regardless of the differences among us, hate is not a part of the equation,” Carmen said. “We can eat different food, wear different clothes, marry different people, vote differently — we can be total opposites in just about everything. And the great thing is, we can still care about one another, still respect one another and treat one another with fairness and courtesy. We can differ without hate.”

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