Riot Fest is a punk music festival celebrating its 10th anniversary this year spanning from Friday, September 12th to Sunday, September 14th. At its beginning the festival was located at several indoor venues around Chicago. Since this time it has expanded to multiple cities, although Chicago remains the biggest location.

In 2012 Riot Fest moved outdoors to Humboldt Park and expanded to include multiple music stages, food and beer vendors, and carnival rides.

Due to Riot Fest’s punk and DIY roots, often the biggest complaint about the festival’s expansion to

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Humboldt Park is that it “sold out.” However, coming from a subculture that prides itself on having Leftist ideologies (for the most part), it is surprising that the main complaint is concerning the superficial punk credibility of the festival.

What should be the most glaring problem about Riot Fest is how the festival directly contributes to gentrification and systemic racism through colonization.

Historically, Humboldt Park has been predominantly composed of people of color.It has a strong Puerto Rican community as well as a high population of Mexican and African American residents.

However, the community has seen a change in racial composition in recent years that is no coincidence.

Between 2000 and 2010 the Hispanic population of the Humboldt Park community area decreased by 4% and the black population decreased by 23.8%. At the same time the white population increased by 30.1%.

This is evidence of gentrification that has had serious effects on the housing market of the community. Since 2013 alone the median price of houses has risen 62% driving foreclosures up around 567% within the same period.

Rent prices have also risen 27% (compared to a 17% rise in income) in the last ten years as well. Earlier this year Redfin even included Humboldt Park in its national top ten list of up-and-coming neighborhoods due to this increase in housing costs.

Residents have been holding protests and workshops discussing housing issues due to gentrification and its effect on the community since the mid-2000s.

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Extensive studies about the effects of gentrification on the Humboldt Park community have also been conducted including one commissioned by the Chicago Commission on Human Relations in 2006. The study detailed changing demographics and attitudes concerning gentrification from various long-term residents. Not only are residents afraid of being displaced from their homes but the racial tension between Hispanics and non-Hispanics is palpable.

It is undeniable that Riot Fest has been a part of the gentrification of Humboldt Park. It is a reflection of white colonization in real time.

When the festival was first proposed to take place at Humboldt Park, residents of the community were mostly opposed. Clearly these concerns were ignored as the festival continues.

The organizer of Riot Fest even said this year that

“People thought we were crazy for choosing Humboldt Park in Chicago, but we knew we were right. Fast-forward three-years later, Humboldt is fast becoming its own economic engine … and we are proud to be a part of that rehabilitation”.

The festival forced its way into Humboldt Park and now claims that the community was broken and the festival’s presence has been a type of “rehabilitation”. This ideology is teeming with racist colonialism. It suggests that the occupation of Hispanic and black neighborhoods by white people is for their own good because there was and is something wrong with them.

This quotation also reflects how white people associate communities composed predominantly of people of color as unsafe. Concert goers thought having Riot Fest in Humboldt Park was “crazy” due to their perception of Humboldt Park as unsafe. The safety of the area is frequently questioned by concert-goers unfamiliar with the area or operating on stereotypes.

Gentrification, [Alejandro] Molina [secretary of the Board of Directors at the Puerto Rican Cultural Center] asserts, is an act of violence, pushing out lower-income minorities in favor of more affluent white professionals without roots in the community. He has seen that pattern with older residents being persuaded to sell their homes.

In true imperialist fashion, Riot Fest has been physically expanding in size since 2012 as well. This year it will cover 162 acres compared to the last two years which covered 38 acres. The festival is trying to create something akin to a white gated community on land they have no right to be using in the first place.

This exclusion includes attempts to minimize contact with actual residents of the community. The festival does not allow re-entry or outside food so concert-goers have to buy food inside the festival grounds (many vendors are out of state) instead of buying from local restaurants and businesses.

Finally, in an ironic twist all profit from the carnival games at Riot Fest goes towards the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. While it is good, and arguably a moral obligation for the festival to give back to the community this choice of charity is somewhat hypocritical.

Riot Fest has contributed to the gentrification of the community causing residents to lose their homes and at the same time donates money to charities dedicated to fighting homelessness.

Riot Fest is not only part of a long-term problem, but its presence in the community for three days causes immediate problems for residents as well.

Last year the festival attracted about 35,000 people per day to put it in perspective. The issues included cell phone service, transportation, and damage to the park.

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I attended the festival last year so I can attest to these issues. I did not get cell phone service at all inside the festival grounds and intermittent service near the grounds. This was a problem for all those I spoke with in attendance as well.

On Riot Fest forums this topic comes up frequently as an issue to be aware of for this year’s festival. Many concert-goers even claim that it was their biggest complaint about the festival weekend itself. The second major problem was transportation to and from the park which I found more distressing.

I used public transportation to the festival and jammed myself into a packed bus that I was lucky to get on in the first place. To clarify, I realize I am integral to the problem though at that time I was ignorant of the more nuanced political issues that Riot Fest is now apart of.

People who drove went to extreme lengths to find parking including paying residents to park in their driveways.

Trying to get back from the festival was even worse. Buses were not a good option as extremely long lines formed meaning waiting for multiple buses to come before anyone could board. Cabs were completely full.

I finally tried to rent Divvy bikes, but were told by a Divvy employee that we couldn’t because the computer system relies on cell phone towers which were already overloaded. I ended up walking halfway from Humboldt Park to Lincoln Park (about 45 minutes) before we found a cab. Between the lack of cell phone service and transportation, the whole ordeal was pretty inconvenient.

However, the inconvenience for Humboldt Park residents is of bigger concern.

Not having cell phone service is not only inconvenient but causes real safety issues. Furthermore, residents talked about not being able to park their cars on their own street and resorting to paying for parking.

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This also posed a problem for residents who had to work and needed to drive to get there.

The public transportation jam is also problematic because 23.1% of Humboldt Park residents rely on the CTA for commuting and general travel.

Even after the festival ends for the weekend the damage to the park is still a huge issue. Last year the restoration for the park cost $54,300. Riot Fest does pay for the cleanup, but it is still problematic for the festival to take over a community’s park, destroy it, and then act as if this is acceptable because they “fix” the damage every year.

BP was not praised for cleaning up oil spills, and neither should Riot Fest for cleaning their mess, and lightly restoring broken land, that could have been easily avoided with a socially aware venue choice.

There is no denying that Riot Fest offers a great musical lineup featuring extremely popular bands and has a reputation for getting bands to reunite for the festival. Musically, the festival offers opportunities to see bands that people would otherwise not have a chance to see.

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However, there are serious moral issues to consider due to its location in Humboldt Park. Riot Fest’s racially divided gentrification of a neighborhood stands in direct contrast to racial equality, civil rights, and housing rights.

Hopefully concert-goers will keep this in mind when they attend Riot Fest this weekend and are as courteous as possible to the residents of the Humboldt Park community.

 


This article has received substantial and warranted criticism for comparing gentrification to ethnic cleansing. That portion of the text was removed at the author’s request as it was something the editor added in prior to publishing it, and the author felt it detracted from the perspective as a whole. However, it should be mentioned that gentrification and ethnic cleansing are often used interchangeably by many scholars on the topic of urban renewal, as ethnic cleansing can simply be defined as “the mass expulsion or killing of members of an unwanted ethnic or religious group in a society.” Minus the act of killing and ethnic cleansing does apply to the cases of many neighborhoods in Chicago.


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Chicago Monitor’s editorial policy


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Chicago Monitor’s editorial policy.


79 COMMENTS

  1. LOL. This article is ridiculous as well as factually inaccurate. I bet it made the author feel really good about herself, but yeah, it’s pretty stupid.

    • How is this article factually inaccurate? The gentrification of Chicago’ neighborhoods are well documented. Looking at Riot Fest through that lens seems pretty logical to me…

    • Also, it was poor Swedes who were there first. But it doesn’t matter, what matters is who is there now and how they are being treated. It has historically been a poorer neighborhood, so classist gentrification still applies

  2. “…I attended the festival last year so I can attest to these issues.” What’s wrong you couldn’t update your facebook status or stand in someone else’s way with your head buried in your iphone? Not a whole lot of credibility in going to event, then scolding others for going to said event. You may want to consider another profession…

  3. Mac, I added to include that I was unaware of these issues when I attended but yes I am part of this problem and did not intend to imply otherwise. However, just because I attended the event doesn’t nullify the truth of what I’m saying. This is a logical fallacy (see: Tu quoque)

    Brian, the editor chose to use that wording but as you can see above it is not inaccurate.

    • So, Jessica, how do we change fix this gentrification “problem” that seems to be going on? Do we keep passing out welfare checks to further encourage the lower class to sit on their hands? Do we move the location and pump millions of dollars into another city’s economy? Do we just let violence and crime run rampant in these areas? NYC is gentrifying by the hour and you know what, it’s not so bad. I’m sure you know about Darwinism, you should mention the positives…

  4. I have been venturing into shitty neighborhoods to see shows for over 20 years! Didnt realize i was creating a racial issue. Hey have 3 day festivals where i live too. We deal with it. Its only 3 days. Although i view some of these festivals like riot fest with disdain but thats only because alot of the “fans” are really just posers….. Sorry i digress. Thats another article

  5. So let me get this straight… a punk festival that brings money, entertainment and even awareness of Humboldt Park to a broader audience is responsible for the ethnic cleanisng and displacement of its residents due to the fact that punk music inherently draws a white crowd that is “colonizing” the area?

    Yikes.

  6. Ya’ll have never really studied gentrification, the history of red lining, white flight, or how to create urban renewal without mass displacement/ ethnic cleansing have you? Also, how does this festival bring any money to the community again??

    • The festival is clearly bringing money to the neighborhood and Chicago as a whole by the collection of taxes on the tickets and food and beverage sales. These taxes are most likely directly helping the lower income resides that currently live in HP. This is not to mention how much additional revenue the local stores around festival will bring in during the festival. That is how it is bringing money into the local community.

      Clearly you have never studied economics.

      • Elliott, can you enlighten us all how racism works then? Every response you’ve made has no substance whatsoever. If you’re so knowable about class displacement and gentrification, stop defending yourself with questions and drop me some fact? This article should be moved to the editorial section, this is nothing more than a poorly developed opinion piece.

        • Happily macattack
          First off, racism is not a two way street, only oppressed people can experience racism, because at it’s core it’s about power. In no way is white America under privileged, believing so would be a gross display of ignorance. You will find this sentiment taught by the likes of Malcolm X, Alice Walker, MLK Jr. Nelson Mandella, etc.etc.
          As for gentrification and displacement, I have written several academic pieces on gentrification and urban displacement, specializing in Chicago’s homeless population. What fact would you like to know? As you aptly pointed out, I have been asking you questions, none of which have you been capable of answering.
          Also, I believe you will recall Socrates taught us to defend ourselves with questions, doing so is often considered a display of critical thinking. I obviously disagree with your premises, and I asked you flat out to defend yourself- explain it to me. If you cannot, that is not my problem, but it doesn’t entitle you to be angry about being asked questions.

          If you are actually interested in learning more about the troubled history of housing in Chicago please read The Politics of Gentrification, Slaughter of Cities: Urban Renewal as Ethnic Cleansing, High Rise Stories: voices from Chicago Public Housing, There Are No Children Here, Blueprint for Disaster: The Unraveling of Chicago Public Housing, and maybe even Gang Leader For A Day- though that’s more about culture of some of these areas and less about the housing itself.

          • Elliot, that is a very narrow and wholly inaccurate definition of “racism”. It seems designed so that one does not have to own up to their own racist ideas. I tend to define words by it’s general usage and by what the dictionary says. Racism is simply to discriminate against someone of a different race because you believe that race is inferior or not worthy of equatable treatment. This can happen to you whether you are black, white or anything else.

            I can find plenty of quotes that show that MLK, Malcolm X, etc do not share your same view.

          • Elliot, the site won’t let me directly reply to your latest response. I’m putting it here.

            Reasserting your assertion with a video does not at all make your view correct. This video is just a diatribe of assertions and opinions, nothing to back up the assertion that racism can only be toward the oppressed.

            I think the big problem is that there is an attempt to change language to make the word “racism” mean something that it currently doesn’t. How I defined racism in my previous reply is how ALL dictionaries define it. Sorry, but until you demonstrate that racism means something besides what the dictionary says and what the general usage is, you’re simply being obtuse and condoning an unfair double-standard. What he is talking about are things that can be informed or influenced by racism, but are not racist in and of themselves. He also conveniently ignores that fact that anybody, not only whites, can have wealth, power and influence. I don’t like thinking this, but I think this argument is merely a justification to be a racist.

            I understand that racism can be a much more complex issue than just a dictionary definition. But let me give you something simple to consider. If I’m walking down the street and someone attacks me and says “I’m going to kick your head in because you’re white”, That would be a racist act. It has nothing to do with who belongs to a majority, or a privilaged group it solely has to do with the fact that I’m white and this person wants me to hurt because of that. That *is* racism.

  7. I live one block away from the park and will be attending. There are a number of festivals and events throughout the year in humboldt park that make public transportation, parking, and use of the park impossible. Puerto Rican pride in the park is a great event drawing families from all over chicago that uses humboldt park and the surrounding streets for it’s location… The same sort of effects are felt during that fest and the residents, me included, enjoy it and get over the hurdles presented by it. Local businesses will definitely See an increase in profit from the fest as fest goers will venture to local bars and eateries before and after the music. With any sort of festival you will see terrible transportation issues… During north coast I had to wait for two busses to go by before there was one I could get on… But again you deal with it. Gentrification is an issue in chicago, but I don’t think you can say riot fest is a large part of the problem. Lollapalooza is a huge inconvenience every year for anyone not in attendance, but is that ok since it is held downtown in grant park where all the privileged tourists stay? As for the comment by the fest organizer, not cool. They should be aware of the implications the fest has… And not be so ignorant in their comment that the community was broken. Being a humboldt park resident, I don’t think the fest has lasting implications throughout the year. It’s just a thing that happens for three days and then it’s over till next year. Humboldt is a vibrant community with plenty to offer year round and I’m happy to live there and that riot fest comes to my back yard.

  8. I find it ironic that a white woman from Lincoln Park is writing an article about gentrification and doesn’t even bother interviewing businesses or people in the neighborhood.

    If you want a definition of “white knighting” this is a great example.

  9. As a relatively new resident just west of the park i must say i’m a bit torn on this issue…but just a little. Since i live so close to the park it is going to be nuts for the the weekend. I don’t dare drive and i’m not looking forward to all the “outsiders” and noise around. So going with the “if you can’t beat them join em” theme i got a three day pass. I’m a little shocked that it takes over all of the park from north to division…when i went the first year when it was division to Augusta there seemed to be enough room for everything. So it will suck for everyday users of the park since ball fields, trails and playing timbale space will be limited to south of division. But hey peurto rican pride weekend is a huge mess too and people have been putting up with that too…since as mentioned not everybody is rican in the neighborhood…then and now.

    As far as gentrification goes i don’t think this fest adds much to the mix. the gentrification of humboldt is just another wave from the mass restoration of the city from the 70’s on. Cities are an organasim that grow and change. As Chicago grows as a midwestern and world economic hub with more jobs relocating from exurbs and other more problematic rustbelt cities etc. so to will the amoeba of gentrification over the city. you can’t blame people for wanting to move closer to the core to be closer to jobs and nightlife etc. Humboldt park is just next on the path west after the big G crossed the river and came to wicker/logan/bucktown. I can see the area directly around the park changing fastest but more west since it lacks close El access like logan or wicker will likely stay lower rent longer.

  10. Jay and Sambo, thank you for your thoughtful input, it is very appreciated. I think that Riot Fest is a representation of gentrification, I in no way think it is what caused gentrification and this process would have continued with or without the festival. The biggest difference between PR fest and Riot Fest does have to do with the people in attendance. PR fest is community based and organized while Riot Fest is outsiders coming in and taking control.

    Jim, this article would have been better coming from a Hispanic person especially from Humboldt Park. However, I did do my research and there is plenty of evidence of residents being opposed to Riot Fest and experiencing gentrification. Also, I don’t live in Lincoln Park.

    • Outsiders taking control? You do realize that the primary organizer of Riot Fest has lived in humboldt park for more than 20 years right? You haven’t done any actual research for this “article.” You’re simply assuming that because mike is white that he is an outsider to humboldt park. That’s pretty offensive.

        • Elliott, you’re completely right. What was I thinking coming to visit the lovely city of Chicago from NYC for the weekend and pumping my upper middle class money into your hotels/restaurants/public transit/cab companies/divvy bike rentals/local food vendors at the festival? What a hoot!

  11. For the love of God, where to even begin with this hatchet-job of an article? Firstly, I’m quite sure that sociologists and economists would be quite surprised to learn that having a three-day music festival in a particular neighborhood is “UNDENIABLE” proof doing so is a causal factor if that neighborhood undergoing gentrification.

    Forget the fact the linked reference to the word “undeniable” is a Time Out Chicago article which says Riot Fest is expanding (talk about a concrete data point) Secondly, as I’m sure everyone is well aware, whenever someone comes in from Schaumburg to see their favorite punk band from the 90’s, that they automatically decide to buy a house and set up camp.

    If this woman is so worried about a seemingly-left-leaning music festival which destroys parks and has lost its soul to corporate greed, perhaps she should direct her scrutiny at Lollapalooza.

    As someone who lives in Southwest Logan Square, very close to the park itself, I don’t think the author understands the first thing about 1.) Humboldt Park/Logan Sqaure as a neighborhood 2.) The nature of gentrification in said neighborhood 2.) Any of the people who live in these neighborhoods.

    Calling this article a hatchet-job is an insult to things that have been obliterated with a hatchet. It’s poorly researched, poorly written pontificating, uninformed and pedantic.

    The entire article reminds me of the old Steve Martin tune “Grandma’s Song”, wherein, with an arrow through his head he says “Criticize things you don’t know about!’

  12. Jessica, though i don’t entirely agree with everthing you stated i do applaud your courage for bringing up such topics. I must admit i’m part of this “problem” being a poor-white-hipstery guy moving into the neighborhood and will later be affected by it as well as the rich white folks come and likely price me out of the neighborhood.

    That being said, I’d like to learn more about the decision process to hold the fest at Humboldt park. You say that most residents were opposed, but what about community leaders and others in the neighborhood involved in the process? Sure residents are going to be opposed to a fest that takes up their park with angry laud music they don’t like but people can adjust and make sacrifices if it benefits the community. I’m sure there is some other financial incentives laid out for the community that most are unaware of. I don’t think aldermen would continue to allow this fest if it was such a financial gamble for the community.

  13. To answer questions about censoring comments:
    We always sensor if the comment is purely insulting, if there is any profanity, if it infringes on anyone’s privacy, or if there are hints of threats or violence. This is commonsense policy. If you feel that you were unfairly censored we apologize, but all comments have been posted that we have received, which do not infringe on those basic guidelines. Thank you.

    • This article is insulting. On several levels. To several groups of people. It also sounds like the author is threatening NOT to attend Riot Fest. Which is a huge huge loss. Especially if she was going to come in and do more research.

  14. A sketch of an historical chronology of Humboldt Park’s ethnographic changes over the years:

    Scandinavian (especially Norwegian, but also Swedish),
    European Jews (approximately 1⁄4 of the community with a peak of 30,000 in the 1930s)
    Italian
    Polish
    German[7]
    Puerto Ricans and African Americans
    Late-tier (e.g. 2nd, 3rd, 4th generation) people of European/pluralistic descent

    Neighborhoods change… Pilzen (Pilsen) was once a Czech neighborhood.

  15. My comment was neither insulting nor contained profanity so far as I recall. It was highly critical of the author and extremely sarcastic, but I think given the quality this piece of “journalism” and the level of “professionalism” shown by Chicago monitor in their handling of this whole fiasco from the jump, criticism is warranted.

      • We may not have received them. Keep in mind we have been posting plenty of criticism, we have no reason to censor one person over another unless their particular content calls for it. Thanks.

        • I find it hard to believe that you’ve only received 46 comments. I also wouldn’t qualify that as “Plenty” But then again, this is the same “publication” that posted this joke of an article, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  16. I welcome the editorial staff, or indeed the author herself, to address the main, monumental, and inherent contradiction in this article. Firstly, in the fifth paragraph Kassintis writes: “What should be the most glaring problem about Riot Fest is how the festival directly contributes to gentrification and systemic racism through colonization.” And, later: “It is undeniable that Riot Fest has been a part of the gentrification of Humboldt Park”

    Then, in the comments she says, “I think that Riot Fest is a representation of gentrification, I in no way think it is what caused gentrification.”

    Please, make up your mind! Does Riot Fest “directly contribute” and is it “undeniable” that it’s been a part of gentrification, OR, do you “in no way think it is what caused gentrification.”?

    The myth of a causal relationship between Riot Fest and gentrification is one you’ve conjured in your head and is supported by exactly zero data.

    Journalism this is not.

    • Kevin, despite your obsession with this article, I will happily respond on her behalf. I think you are mistaking contributing to gentrification with causing it. These are different concepts entirely. It seems she doesn’t believe Riot Fest has caused the gentrification in Humboldt Park (which we all know has been happening since the early 00’s), but that it does affect the already in place gentrification of the neighborhood. This article is just looking at Riot Fest through a critical theory lens, big whoop. I also don’t see why this article is such a big deal and I need to learn to turn notifications off of my e-mail. That being said, why are so many people in Humboldt Park, and so many community leaders not for Riot Fest? Maybe it’s because they see it as a result and contributor to the unwanted changing demographics of their neighborhood…

      • They don’t want it bacause of the noise, traffic and litter it causes. I don’t think any of the community leaders and decided that the festival was turning everybody in the neighborhood white!

        • http://www.redeyechicago.com/news/redeye-humboldt-park-riot-fest-20140909,0,809565.story

          ““Thirty, 40, 50 years ago, no white people wanted to come in, and certainly no yuppies,” Molina said. “Now, all of a sudden, it’s condos, and it’s not for us.”

          Gentrification, Molina asserts, is an act of violence, pushing out lower-income minorities in favor of more affluent white professionals without roots in the community. He has seen that pattern with older residents being persuaded to sell their homes.

          “There’s an overwhelming pressure, I think, about change,” he said. “Look at your California [Avenue] corridor. To me, that doesn’t bode well. These people, they hide in their trendy hipster stores, but there’s no sense of themselves being in a community.”

          Jose Lopez, executive director of the cultural center, said preserving ethnic diversity in the city should be a priority.

          “I cannot tell anyone where they should or should not live,” he said. “However, I think that if … there is a historically defined area, that you would want to respect that and that you would want to look and validate what it has created, rather than coming and erasing it.””

          • The future of any civilization is built on the ruins of its past. This is bigger than Humboldt Park and Chicago. This is life, this is the world we live in and its true throughout world. I don’t care if HP stays Puerto Rican, just like Puerto Ricans didn’t care if HP stayed Polish. One day HP will be all white and then somewhere along the line, that will change. Gentrification talk is silly. Human progress can’t and shouldn’t be stopped just because someone doesn’t like the aesthetic. If you are really concerned that HP stays Puerto Rican and don’t feel white people with money have right to live there, what does that really say about you?

      • Elliot, where to begin with you? I mean, you’re wrong about so many things, it’s hard to know where to begin. Firstly, let’s start with a definition.

        Contributes: help to cause or bring about.
        “gases that contribute to global warming”
        synonyms: play a part in, be instrumental in, be a factor in, have a hand in, be conducive to, make for, lead to, cause
        “numerous factors contribute to job satisfaction”

        So, when you assert on one hand: ” Riot Fest directly contributes to gentrification and systemic racism through colonization” You cannot then contend: ““I think that Riot Fest is a representation of gentrification, I in no way think it is what caused gentrification.”

        So, wrong, these are not two “entirely different” concepts. The word contribute implies a causal relationship.

        Lastly, until I wrote this comment, I had made 2 comments in this thread and you had made 9. Now, please Elliot, tell me again, who is obsessed?

  17. And other thing- if you are going to live in a big city, guess what, there’s going to be some inconveniences for the trade off of doing so. One of them is festivals. Live downtown? Deal with Lollapalooza. Live in Lincoln Square? Deal with Mayfest. Live in boystown? Deal with gay pride parade. Live in Humboldt Park? Deal with Puerto Rican Pride & RF. Live near Union Park…..You can see where this is going. It’s only a couple days. If you want to live in the big city you’re going to have to adapt. Things change. Neighborhoods change. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Don’t overthink it Dearie.

  18. This is a classic example of armature journalism. You take two stats and make them relational without the data to support the claim in the effort to prove an unproven point. Jessica Kassanits is a hack reporter who does not deserve a column. If the Chicago Monitor approves of this sort of sensationalism in it’s editorials than it’s lost this subscriber for good.

  19. While there is nothing wrong with attending a concert or a fest of your choice, there is always the fact that having such events will always effect the community in some way. Financially, the fest may bring in money to the city as a whole, but that does not go with the ramifications that it has on the Humboldt Park community. The mom and pop shops and other businesses that are within the area are financially affected greatly since those attending the event are not allowed to leave the event to eat, drink, etc. while they are there or allowed to bring in outside products in with them.

    The author also states “This exclusion includes attempts to minimize contact with actual residents of the community. The festival does not allow re-entry or outside food so concert-goers have to buy food inside the festival grounds (many vendors are out of state) instead of buying from local restaurants and businesses.” Since the food or drink stalls that are set-up inside the grounds are often places from out of state, this again does not help to support any business that is within the Humboldt Park area or the city. At least if you’re not going to allow people to bring in items or allow them to leave, the least that can be done is to allow restaurants and businesses from Humboldt Park or near by areas to hold stalls within the grounds so that these businesses can have at least one outlet of making some money, since their businesses are affected during the entire stay of the fest.

    Finally, because of the manner in which the financial aspect of things are being handled within the Humboldt Park community, that absolutely does affect those who have been “forced” to leave or on the brink of leaving. Because of the sudden increase in rent prices within the last ten years, which are much higher than the increase in income, this creates a major issue for the current residents who are no longer able to afford living in the area where some have spent their entire lives. These residents have raised their children and families and have known Humboldt Park to be their home for many years and because of the recent increase in housing costs, they are no longer allowed to do so. Instead they are being forced out of their homes.

    • Sara – pretty much no festival allows you to bring in outside food. However the increased traffic to the festival usually means surrounding businesses automatically do more business. There’s an example right in the comments section: look at the comment about West On North.

      As for your last paragraph, that has little to do with Riot Fest, as RF is not in control of rental prices in the area.

      Here’s an idea: have the area residents decide how they want to handle the situation. OH WAIT THEY DID, and Riot Fest has convened with the community in the past to work out issues.

    • Okay… so…

      1) I don’t know if you have ever been to Riot Fest, Sara. I know that the author claims she went last year before these issues weighed on her conscience. But if that is true, then both of you would know that there ARE local restaurants with booths to sell their foodstuffs at RiotFest. You would also know that while there is no re-entry, people are actually coming and going all day long. Some arrive later, some leave earlier, depending on whether or not they’re bringing their kids (RF is far and away the MOST kid-friendly music festival hosted in this city, IMHO as the mother of an 8 year old who has both attended and worked music festivals in this city for over a decade), or what bands they do or do not want to see.

      There are after shows booked at venues all over the city, some in the neighborhoods surrounding the fest, some not. There are people who go to those, there are people who don’t. Hell, last year when it rained, the Family Dollar on North Avenue sold out of ponchos and umbrellas! I have seen hosts of people grabbing snacks at Cermak Produce, eating lunch at various places before entering the festival grounds, etc. It’s not like *everyone* walks in when gates open and *everyone* leaves as the last band plays their last song….

      As for the condos and the increase in rents, that has been going on for well over a decade. Yes, within the last decade the neighborhood has improved enough that more young white people feel comfortable moving in, but your pointing out of increasing rents while incomes are flat applies to many young white people just as readily as it does the Latinos that have lived in that neighborhood for decades. I moved to Humboldt Park 10 years ago when I could no longer afford to live in the Ukrainian Village or Wicker Park because rents were driven up. I suffered through gunshots in my alley every night. I started raising my son in Humboldt Park, and while he’s not white, I sure am.

      Now… I no longer live in Humboldt Park. I can no longer AFFORD to live in Humboldt Park. Yes, because someone took note and came in and bought up properties and built fancy condos I could never afford. So I live in a less expensive and more stable neighborhood now, one I’m not worried will be soon inhabited by the young upwardly mobile folks who can’t afford to buy in Lincoln Park or Wicker Park anymore. The ones who won’t live in a neighborhood if they have to worry about waiting 5 minutes after they hear gunshots to leave the house.

      And yet, I do not believe that Riot Fest is a contributor to the gentrification of this neighborhood. They may benefit from the fact that gentrification made it a safe enough place to host the festival, but the same is true of Grant Park, Lincoln Park, Union Square Park, etc etc etc. You cannot go any place in this city that at one time or another wasn’t largely comprised of a different ethnic makeup and economic background than it is currently. Right or wrong, that is the reality of Chicago. While we may agree that things like gentrification impacts certain ethnic or socioeconomic groups negatively and while we might both seek to change that, going after a 3-day annual music festival with misplaced accusations does not accomplish anything positive.

  20. Okay, let’s break this down.

    1.Provided evidence that gentrification is happening in Humboldt Park.
    2.Applied this concept to Riot Fest and discusses how it is a part of the process of gentrification.
    3.Profit

    Really though, I don’t know what it is hard to understand that Riot Fest contributes to the problem without being the sole cause. Gentrification would happen with or without the festival but the presence of the festival pushes gentrification forward and is a good example of how this process happens.

    • Jessica,

      I kind of understand where you’re coming from with this…

      because Riot Fest benefits from the fact that Humboldt Park is gentrifying, your assertion is that it then contributes to gentrification by its participation in a system that disproportionately affects the Latino people of the neighborhood.

      EXCEPT you’re neglecting two big things:

      1) Humboldt Park has been gentrifying for over a decade. Slowly, but it has. There have been white young adults, “hipsters,” or “starving artists,” or whatever you wish to call them, moving into the neighborhood because they were pushed out of Wicker Park and Bucktown. It’s a cycle. The young broke hipsters find a nice, inexpensive place to live, then as it becomes safer, the more affluent move in, then as they do the hipsters get priced out and move on to another neighborhood. When I moved to this city 22 years ago, Wicker Park and the Ukrainian Village were still quite scary places to be at times.

      To say that Riot Fest should not be held in Humboldt Park because it contributes to gentrification of the neighborhood and therefore is tantamount to ethnic cleansing, you would have to equally apply that logic and value system to all other festivals taking place in Chicago, because at one time or another, any site where a festival is currently being hosted was subject to the exact same gentrification. Where is the outrage for Pitchfork in Union Park, which is contributing to the gentrification of the West Town and East Garfield Park neighborhoods? What about how Lollapalooza impacts Grant Park and the areas in the South Loop that were once predominantly black and are now all high rise condos and Columbia College dorms?

      2) It is actually impossible to go through life with the privilege of a white person and NOT participate in a system that disproportionately negatively impacts those who by race or ethnicity do not carry that same privilege. The key to not being racist is to be AWARE of that privilege and to mitigate the negative impacts when and where you can. It is clear that you don’t feel that Riot Fest’s efforts to mitigate the impacts of their privilege are enough, but there are literally many thousands of people (of ALL ethnic backgrounds, mind you) who patronize the festival and feel otherwise. Some live in Humboldt Park, some do not.

      And a bonus:

      3) You may not have a great understanding of Riot Fest’s target demographic. I really think this idea that having a punk music festival in Humboldt Park will bring more white people to live in the neighborhood is misplaced. Any people it might attract either already live there or have long since been priced out.

  21. Jessica, you provide exactly zero facts and NO data whatsoever establishing a causal link between Riot Fest and the gentrification of Humboldt park. None.

    You cannot say, “I in no way think it (Riot Fest) is what caused gentrification.” And then say, “Riot Fest…is a part of the process of gentrification.”

    Those two things are mutually exclusive; both cannot be true It’s a very rudimentary exercise in logic. Apparently, one which escapes you.

  22. How you can hang the gentrification of an area on something that happens for three days out of the year is laughable. And calling Riot Fest imperialist is downright hilarious!

    Seriously, a more likely cause is that as Logan Square has become more expensive people are looking for an affordable option near by, which means Humboldt Park. Doesn’t that make more sense?

  23. Wow!
    What a load of Horse Hockey.
    Every time I have attended Riot Fest, I have seen scores of neighborhood residents sitting out on lawn chairs enjoying the music and people watching. The residents have been nothing but friendly to me.

    I have yet to see and of these , according to you, discriminated against people out protesting.

    I used to live in HP in the 80’s and there sure was a lot more crime and gang activity.

    It’s because of the strength and commitment of the residents ( of ALL races) that HP is becoming a better / safer neighborhood.

    There exists in this country a vast economic divide that has little to with race.

    RiotFest, the Artists that participate and the majority in attendance most did definitely even come close to representing the 1% super rich ruling class that controls this country.

    It would be really nice if the author would use her time and ” soap box” to address real issues and real problems.

    Geeze! It’s a music fest. I very much homespun music fest.

    Humbolt Park ( the actual park ) is a beautiful historic treasure, and it’s great to see people from around the world come out and experience REAL Chicago ( as opposed to the overly corporate sponsored Lollapalooza).

    Hey on that note… Why not do a story about how Rahm Emmanuals brother runs the William Morris Agency ( the company which holds a MAJOR stake in Lolla).

    Or a story about how Lolla has gotten so bad that the founder is actually playing at Riot Fest this year instead of what WAS his festival?

  24. I lived in Humboldt Park in the late 1990s, just south of Division Street and just west of California Ave. I don’t know how much things have changed in the past 15 years since I moved — no, I wasn’t gentrified out of the neighborhood, FWIW — but back then the sound of gunfire after sunset was constant: you couldn’t go more than 15 min. w/o hearing it, at least until after midnight.

    I’ll never forget the night when I walked toward the park (which was at the north end of the block where I lived) with my dogs and two cars came to a screeching a halt in front us, less than 50 yards away: they exchanged gunfire for about 5-10 seconds before they took off east on Division. Had we left the apt. a minute earlier, we would have been right there at the corner (and quite possibly shot in the crossfire). If gentrification means that Humboldt Park has far less gun violence than it did 15 years ago, then you can’t convince me that gentrification is a wholly bad thing.

  25. So wait a minute… When a neighborhood is struggling economically and getting an unwarranted bad rep, we cry that it is not getting enough attention or opportunity or that people do not see the good in it. THEN . . . when folks start doing things to turn all of that around and things are on the up and up with new people moving in and events happening . . . well that is gentrification and a bad thing too. So what exactly do we want here?

  26. More non-slanderous, non profanity using posts excised. You might as well shut this site down now. You no longer have any credibility.

  27. Censorship and lack of discourse is “progressive” and “ahead of the curve” since when exactly?

    Listen… I am all kinds of progressive, feminist and fighting against racism. I am likely more conscious of my privilege than the vast majority of cis-gendered white folks… especially since I have non-white spawn. I am HYPER AWARE of these issues. I see the pitfalls of gentrification, but I can also acknowledge that it’s not without its advantages.

    All that said, I still vehemently disagree with Jessica’s assertion that a 3-day punk rock music festival actively CONTRIBUTES to gentrification simply because it benefits from the fact that the neighborhood has been gentrifying.

    I also still maintain, as someone who was educated in a time where things like scientific research, the difference between cause and correlation, cited sources and journalistic integrity were still taught, that this article has no place in a publication that wants to be taken seriously. FACTS! This is not factual reporting, it is an op-ed. And yet it is being defended as if it were intended to be factual reporting.

    I wish you the best, Chicago Monitor. Oh to be 23 and have all of the answers once again. White knight away.

  28. The author never stated that Riot Fest is the cause of gentrification in Humboldt Park… all she said was that because of Riot Fest taking place in Humboldt Park it is helping to speed up the process of gentrification in Humboldt Park.

    p.s. I have been to Riot Fest, so I’ve definitely seen this first hand…

    • Well if that was her point, she didn’t get it across in any fashion. Please explain how an inclusive 3 day music festival bringing money to a neighborhood created by someone who’s lived in the neighborhood for more than a decade and pays for the cleanup itself is a sign of gentrification.

      And you’ve been to Riot Fest and seen “what” first hand? People enjoying music in the park?

    • “What should be the most glaring problem about Riot Fest is how the festival directly contributes to gentrification and systemic racism through colonization.”

      She most certainly stated that the festival contributes to gentrification and systemic racism. If it is a contributor, it is a cause. Not THE cause, not the origin, but a cause nonetheless.

      Or did Sara not learn the difference between causation and correlation either?

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