ROGERS PARK — A judge agreed Friday to defer prosecution of a homeless woman known for yelling at people and openly drinking alcohol on Morse Avenue as long as she agreed to enter treatment.
The woman, Jennifer "Gidget" Green, 53, has garnered a high profile in Rogers Park for camping out on street corners and shouting at residents walking by on the popular commercial strip. In October, she was slapped with a drinking in the public way charge and faced up to six months in jail.
Members of Occupy Rogers Park stood alongside Green as she appeared in court on Friday and advocated for her to be admitted into a rehab program rather than be thrown in jail.
Associate Judge Anthony Calabrese amended her charge to disorderly conduct — a lesser offense — so she could sign up for a state-sponsored rehab program, according to a clerk at the Cook County Municipal Court.
Her next hearing date is set for March.
Earlier in the week, several business owners from the neighborhood, as well as members of the United Church of Rogers Park, attended Green's original hearing to voice their concerns to the judge.
"I would not take a step anywhere to put someone in jail," said Katy Hogan, co-founder of the Heartland Cafe, who first met Green at the cafe's bar, where she'd come in to play songs on the jukebox and drink a beer years ago.
"It has been a downward trip for her over the last 2½-3 years," she said.
Green was sitting alone in front of the cafe Friday night. She said she now has a case worker at Thresholds, a mental health provider.
"That's the biggest problem I've ever had, being homeless," she said.
A popular hangout for Green was the intersection of Morse and Glenwood avenues near the "L" station. Over the summer and fall, Green was known to sit outside MorseL, a restaurant that opened at the end of October.
Mary Ann Culleton, part-owner and chef of the restaurant, said Green's behavior was bad for business and inappropriate in public, but that jail was also not the answer. Culleton attended the hearing as well.
"The street and the jail are not the place for this lady," she said. "Most people are genuinely concerned for [her]. You can’t just lock her up. She can’t just be cast aside."
Jim Ginderske, a member of Occupy Rogers Park and a former 49th Ward aldermanic candidate, became concerned about the reaction to Green's behavior after an email was sent out by the Rogers Park Business Alliance to neighborhood business owners.
"The more people go, the better, so the judge can see that the community is affected by her presence," the alliance wrote in the email, which encouraged business owners to ask the state's attorney to "keep her away from Morse Ave." Officials with the alliance could not be reached for comment Friday.
Ginderske said he and others convinced Green to turn herself in the day after her hearing after the business alliance alerted him Green was back on Morse Avenue Tuesday night.
"There is nothing wrong with that girl," said Hogan. "She loves music, she knows the words to every song that’s important. Ultimately, it was a good day for the neighborhood."