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More Racist Graffiti Spotted In West Loop; Neighbors Outraged

By Stephanie Lulay | May 4, 2017 1:23pm | Updated on May 4, 2017 3:43pm
 Graffiti reading
Graffiti reading "KKK" was spotted near a Kennedy Expy. exit in the West Loop Wednesday night.
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Moshe Tamssot/True West Loop

WEST LOOP — Less than a day after the city removed "KKK" graffiti near a Kennedy Expy. ramp in the West Loop, neighbors reported seeing "No N------s" scrawled at another nearby ramp.

Neighbors reported the "KKK" graffiti to the city's Street and Sanitation Department and police early Thursday and by 12:30 p.m., the graffiti had been removed. 

The "KKK" graffiti, sprayed in black paint on three concrete barriers designed to protect pedestrians, appeared at the Kennedy's Madison Street northbound exit near Whole Foods at 1 N. Halsted St. in Greektown.

The graffiti was first spotted Wednesday night, according to Moshe Tamssot, a West Loop neighbor and founder of True West Loop, a Facebook page focused on West Loop issues. 

The initials "KKK" commonly refer to the Ku Klux Klan, a hate group founded on white supremacy and other racist ideologies.  

The "KKK" graffiti was brought to the attention of police about 9 a.m. Thursday, a Chicago Police Department spokesperson said. A criminal damage to city property report was filed in the case, and a request was made for it to be removed. 

No one is in custody, and there is no camera footage to share at this time, police said. 

After neighbors took to Facebook to voice their outrage about the "KKK" graffiti, more racist graffiti was spotted. On Thursday afternoon, someone spotted the words "No N-----s" on a sidewalk near the Monroe exit ramp from the Kennedy, according to True West Loop: 

More racist graffiti was spotted by West Loop neighbors Thursday afternoon near the Monroe exit of the Interstate 90/94 ramp. [True West Loop]

The "KKK" scrawling had not been classified as a hate crime as of Thursday afternoon, according to Officer Jose Estrada, a Chicago Police Department spokesman. 

Though neighbors reported the racist graffiti on Monroe Street to 311, its removal could not be immediately confirmed. 

Members of the True West Loop Facebook page pledged to report such graffiti, and expressed outrage that this was happening in Chicago. 

"Something disturbing happening in our country and while we may not have control over far places this is our home!" one neighbor wrote. "This is unacceptable! And we need to unite to say there is no room for hate in West Loop! (Anywhere really but not in my neighborhood!)"

The tags come after hate crimes were reported in Pilsen as well as Downtown, on the University of Illinois at Chicago campus and the University of Chicago campus in the last several months.

In October, a 60-year-old man was charged with defacing a Pilsen church with racist graffiti.  Robert Samar allegedly was seen on camera drawing a swastika and the words "burn" and "kill" on the church's front door.  

In February, a 31-year-old man was charged with driving up to the Chicago Loop Synagogue, smashing a window and defacing the building's front door with swastika stickers. Stuart Wright, who lived in Pilsen at the time, is a white supremacist who has a swastika tattoo on his back, police said.

Before the synagogue hate crime, Wright visited a Pilsen church several times, alarming the church's members with his behavior to the point that they hired guards out of fear for their safety. 

In March, a series of anti-Semitic flyers were found on the UIC campus proclaiming: "Ending white privilege ... starts with ending Jewish privilege." 

Also in March, a man was caught posting posters promoting a race war and anti-Semitism on the University of Chicago campus, according to U. of C. police. 

Christian Picciolini, a reformed former neo-Nazi and co-founder of nonprofit Life After Hate, which is located in the West Loop, said white supremacist groups feel empowered by the nation's current political climate.

"The climate that is coming from the very top is uncertain and polarizing," Picciolini said. 

The son of Italian immigrants, Picciolini was recruited to become a member of the neo-Nazis at age 14 in 1987, left the group at age 22 in 1995, and has spent the last 20 years trying to dismantle the group's racist ideals and help others leave white supremacist groups. Picciolini said it "boggles" his mind that such graffiti can be found today in Chicago.

"It's disturbing if it's somebody from our community," he said of the West Loop.

The graffiti was removed Thursday. [Moshe Tamssot/True West Loop]