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Cappleman Critics Say They've Been Blocked by Alderman on Twitter

 Ald. James Cappleman (46th).
Ald. James Cappleman (46th).
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DNAinfo/Adeshina Emmanuel

UPTOWN — Some critics of Ald. James Cappleman (46th) find it impossible to interact with the  alderman — on Twitter, that is.

At least six people, most of them Cappleman's constituents, claim that they have been "blocked" by the alderman on Twitter in recent months for comments about his anti-pigeon efforts, and his dealings with the poor and their advocates.

In January, the Chi-Town Review blog published a post titled: "North Side alderman blocks constituent on Twitter," about a 46th Ward man who Tweeted that Cappleman "has popped his cork," in response to an article about the Indiana farmer who got his permission to take pigeons from Uptown to Indiana for undisclosed reasons.

It was later discovered that the pigeons were shot for sport.

Resident @LakeviewGreg complained in subsequent Tweets that, "there is more to our 46th Ward than birds," and joked, "It's 11:30 in the #46th Ward and are all our pigeons accounted for?"

He was blocked shortly after.

"I'll be dipped in pigeon poop, my alderman @JamesCappleman has blocked me on Twitter," he tweeted.

The legal director at Uptown Law Center, Alan Mills, said in a statement that Cappleman blocked him around the same time after he "laid into him in several tweets about his odd focus on pigeons."

"Blocking critics suggests a lack of commitment to the power of social media as providing two way communication, and instead trying to use it for one way communication — as a substitute for old fashioned mailings," Mills said.

Uptown resident and activist Stavroula Harissis said that the Twitter account for Uptown Uprising, which was formed after the Salvation Army skirmish in March to keep Cappleman critics connected, was blocked by the alderman just days after she created it.

Most of the tweets before the account was blocked were centered on protests happening in the 46th ward, and included some criticism that claimed Cappleman supports gentrification and is hurting the poor with his policies.

"It's not totally surprising that it would get blocked," she said of the account. "He seems very liberal — about blocking people who disagree with him."

"I think it's totally thin skinned," she added.

She said it shows that Cappleman is not as willing to hear from people who disagree with him as he says he is.

"To me, I see it as more of a victory," she said.

In March, former Uptown resident Cynthia Carrera, backed the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless in its request for further details regarding relocation efforts for displaced Chateau Hotel tenants. Cappleman refused. He tweeted: "Sorry, those details are only for those directly affected by situation. I answer to them. I remain their advocate."

In a tweet, Carrera said his response was "so disappointing," and said "being transparent would address issues of trust." 

The Twitter interactions were civil for the most part, Carrera said. But she was ultimately blocked by the alderman.

DNAinfo Chicago called the 46th Ward office asking for comment from Cappleman about his Twitter beefs. His chief of staff Tressa Feher would not comment on the blocked accounts, but stressed that "residents have access to our office through social media, email, phone and office hours."

In January, however, Cappleman explained the blocked accounts to the Chi-Town Review.

“When someone is blocked from my Twitter account, it’s not due to disagreement," he said. "I welcome it because I need it to help me become more informed on an issue.

“Someone gets blocked when their tweets are demeaning and disrespectful. There can be no constructive dialogue when one party tosses out insulting and derogatory remarks about the other," Cappleman said.

A DNAinfo Chicago reporter was also blocked by Cappleman in January for a tweet about his pigeon removal plans.