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Riot Fest's Move From Humboldt Park 'a Citizen Victory,' Group Says

By Darryl Holliday | May 22, 2015 2:32pm | Updated on May 26, 2015 8:42am

HUMBOLDT PARK — Protestors of Riot Fest in Humboldt Park held a victory celebration Friday — and said corporations shouldn't have "blanket access" to city parks in the future.

"We're gathered here in celebration of having Riot Fest moved out of our park," Gloria Burgos, a member of a group called Humboldt Park Citizens Against Riot Fest, said at a press conference at Division Street and California Avenue Friday.

She was joined by about 50 other residents, including fellow group member Charlie Billups.

"We were labeled the 'fanatical few' by Riot Fest on their website," Billups said. "This is a citizen victory."

Charlie Billups speaks to reporters Friday. Gloria Burgos is to his right. [DNAinfo/Darryl Holliday]

Billups noted that the park is already frequently used by community groups, sports teams, theater and arts groups and of course — residents and their children.

"We cannot allow big corporations that are making a lot of money to have blanket access to the parks," Billups added.

The move to oust Riot Fest from Humboldt gained steam in early May, when Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) cited repeated damage to the park and the growing community opposition as his primary reasons for pulling his support for holding the 2015 festival in the neighborhood for a fourth straight year.

At a May 8 press conference, Citizens Against Riot Fest outlined grievances against the festival, including the inaccessibility of the park during weeks-long repairs after the three-day show as its primary concern. The group also objected to the lasting "ecological destruction of the park," an allegation fest organizers refuted.

Riot Fest organizers tried to smooth things over when news spread that the Chciago Park District might not reopen the man-made Humboldt Park beach and offered to donate $30,000 to the effort to keep it open, but some firm opponents still fought the fest's return, calling the donation disingenuous.

This week, the fest was moved to Douglas Park.

In the announcement posted to Riot Fest's website explaining the relocation, organizers described Douglas Park as the fest's "new home" and praised its "new neighbors" as "what makes Chicago great."

But Burgos offered a word of caution: "Look around and see whether it's worth having Riot Fest hosted in [your] community park," she said.

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