CHICAGO — The owner of a framing shop in Edgewater is considering a move out after experiencing what he calls a history of homophobic intimidation and harassment.
After 20 years in the same location, Leif Forre said the trends of intimidation have reached a new low.
A video Forre recorded on Oct. 17 showed a man spitting on a store window at Wall to Wall Framing and yelling gay slurs. The man, Forre said, is a part of a group of men who are a constant presence on the nearby corner and in front of the store.
“I go outside and tell them to not drink, and not throw the garbage and not urinate on the sidewalk in front of my business,” Forre said. “They’re angry at me they don’t like me at all I’m not afraid to call the cops, to call 911 on these guys when they’re right in front of my business and intimidating me and intimidating my customers, they hate it.”
Forre added that because he has a rainbow pride flag in the front window of his business, men from the group usually say gay slurs to him and that it’s been going on for quite some time.
After the Oct. 17 incident, Forre said he called the police again, trying to get something done about the problem.
“[The police] showed up and told me because the guy was probably mentally ill, there was nothing they could do about it,” Forre said. “So, they just left them there and took off. They wrote up a small report, but nothing happened.”
After a few days, Forre said an officer returned to his shop and told him one of the men had been arrested and charged with assault, with the investigation being treated as one looking into a hate crime.
“I think the fact that these folks are here and they’re spitting on small business windows, especially windows that are displaying the rainbow colors,” said Ald. Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth (48th Ward), who visited Forre’s shop Saturday. “we just cannot tolerate that here on Bryn Mawr in Edgewater or the City of Chicago.”
For Leif, who’s been contacted by the City’s Department of Human Rights after this latest incident, he said the response is generally slower than he’d like, as he sees businesses moving out along Bryn Mawr and contemplates a move of his own.
“I love the city,” Forre said. “I moved here in 1991 and I love the city, but … it’s not the same city that I moved to 32 years ago. [The City has] changed, it’s really different.”