Group holds demonstration to voice concerns on Obama Presidential Center

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CHICAGO -- A group of people who live near the site of the planned Obama Presidential Center held a 24-hour demonstration to make sure their voices are heard.

The group is camping out ahead of the foundation's first public meeting tomorrow.

Jawanza Malone heads the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization which is part of a bigger umbrella of activist organizations called the Southside Community Benefits Agreement Coalition.

Their issue concerns the future Obama Presidential Center, or OPC, to be built in Jackson Park.

Residents who live in Woodlawn, Jackson Park, South Shore and Washington Park are asking for a signed legal contract that will guarantee jobs in construction and the operation of  the OPC and any directly related hotels, restaurants, etc.

“We want to ask where the reluctance is coming from to sign on to a community benefits agreement,” Malone said.

Malone says he's been told by the Obama Foundation representatives that a CBA is not right for this project but exactly why that is he has not been told.

There is also concern over gentrification and that long term residents in those neighborhoods will be forced out and unable to pay rising rents.

The coalition was at McCormick place since early Wednesday afternoon and planned to stay the night.

When the doors open tomorrow for the next public meeting on the OPC, the demonstrators will be the first in line so that their concerns will be heard first.  They say they hope it will be a lasting impression.

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