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We No Longer Need Barricades On Obama's Block, Neighboring Synagogue Says

By Sam Cholke | February 14, 2017 5:02am | Updated on February 14, 2017 6:41am
 The barricades around Barack Obama's Kenwood home, during his presidency and after he left office.
The Obama Barricades
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KENWOOD — Leaders at KAM Isaiah Israel, the synagogue across the street from Barack Obama's Chicago home, say the heavily secured block in Kenwood should be reopened to the public.

Interim Executive Director Debra Hammond said Monday the synagogue at 1100 E. Hyde Park Blvd. wants the gates and barricades that block Greenwood Avenue at Hyde Park Boulevard removed to send a message of openness and inclusivity.

“If we could have it the way we wanted it, it would be open at Hyde Park Boulevard,” Hammond told DNAinfo. “We want to be more of a place of sanctuary.”

The synagogue has been behind barricades and flanked by U.S. Secret Service agents since Obama was inaugurated president in 2009. And when any of Obama’s family was at the mansion at 5046 S. Greenwood Ave., visitors to the synagogue had to put their name on a list with the Secret Service first.

RELATED: Obama's Neighbors Worry President's Kenwood House Will Become Tourist Trap

Hammond said security has eased since Obama left office in January. She said the Secret Service agents moved closer to Obama’s home and have been replaced by Chicago Police Department officers at the southern corner of Obama’s block and in the middle of the block.

Neighbors sharing the block with Obama's Georgian Revival mansion at 5046 S. Greenwood Avenue (center bottom) have spent the last four years under the careful watch of the Secret Service.

She said the Secret Service initially told the synagogue the barriers would all be removed, but the Police Department has since opted to keep the barriers.

Police referred questions to the Secret Service.

A representative from the Secret Service referred questions to its Chicago field office, which did not return calls for comment.

Hammond said the synagogue on Sunday talked to 4th Ward Ald. Sophia King, who suggested there could be alternatives to barriers, such as making Greenwood a one-way street going south, converting the block to a cul-de-sac or posting signs preventing some traffic.

King could not be reached for comment.

Neighbors expressed worry that Obama's house could become a heavily trafficked tourist destination if the street is reopened and want tour bus traffic limited on the block if it is reopened.

King is expected to meet with the synagogue again in late March to discuss changes to the security now provided by the city.

These were some of the barricades up when Barack Obama was still in office. 

These were some of the barricades up when Barack Obama was still in office.