Riot Fest is coming to Lawndale where dreams go to die

This is one of the charming historic buildings concert goers will appreciate during Riot Fest in Douglas Park. (PV Bella)

Riot Fest, the over hyped concert series in the mud, is moving from Humboldt Park. Due to the bickering of two puerile aldermen and negative input from some community groups, Riot Fest will be be held in Douglas Park this year.

In an announcement, long on hype and laced with errors, the promoters of Riot Fest touted the move. Worse, they included a link to an advertorial from a real estate group touting the picturesque charm of the neighborhood.

Another charming view of Lawndale Riot Fest attendees will appreciate. (PV Bella)

Douglas Park is located in the Lawndale area. Lawndale is where dreams go to die.

The glorified Riot Fest announcement includes some "facts" about Douglas Park (Emphasis the author's).

Douglas Park is named after Senator Stephen A. Douglas, who ran against good ole Abe Lincoln in the 1960 U.S. Presidential Election. He lost.

The park was initially named South Park. The name changed in 1869 to what we know now as Douglas Park.

Maybe history is wrong. Maybe Kennedy did not defeat Nixon in the 1960 Presidential Election. Maybe the Tribune was right in 1948, Dewey did defeat Truman.

Douglas Park was designed in the late 1800's. It was not completed until the early 1900's. Somehow the name was changed in 1869. Time warps must be real. Forward to the past.

If the promoters of Riot Fest cannot get simple things right, how can they be trusted to responsibly run a major event on Park District property, flooding a neighborhood with people from all over the world?

The promoters linked to dreamtown Realty's site description of something called "Douglas". A neighborhood that only exists in the minds of unscrupulous realtors. Realty people love changing the names or borders of areas.

Lincoln Park keeps moving further west. Soon, areas near Cicero and Fullerton will be part of Lincoln Park.

Logan Square keeps moving further south. How long before Archer Heights is considered Logan Square?

Lawndale is not Douglas. There is no Douglas, except the park.

"Douglas" does not sit on Lake Michigan's shoreline. "A number of public parks serve the community member's recreational needs. Beach access, baseball fields, bike paths, gardening clubs, softball leagues and summer day camps play a part in the daily Douglas lifestyle where neighbors assemble for old-fashioned fun and community bonding." (dreamtown Realty)

Sounds pretty idyllic. To bad it is not true. North Lawndale is one of the most impoverished neighborhoods in Chicago. It has one of the highest unemployment rates and one of the highest numbers of residents who are unemployed ex-felons.

North Lawndale is an impoverished neighborhood. It is a neighborhood where good people struggle to survive. It is an area where the few criminals and gangs terrorize the majority.

It is apparent the realtors never got out of their cars and walked through the neighborhood. They just created this warm inviting neighborhood out of thin air.

Businesses in North Lawndale? The major commercial enterprise is something politically correct people call, "alternative economy". It is crime, especially the drug trade.

The gullible people who run Riot Fest believe anything and hope the attendees will believe it. Who would come to Lawndale if the truth was told?It is a pity people are so dishonest.


This is the Idyllic scene the promoters and realtors want people to see. Douglas Park. (PV Bella)

Lawndale could and should benefit from Riot Fest. The event could bring attention and economic development to the area. It could highlight the people and few successful businesses.

Good people and businesses who only need a chance.

The wonderful older buildings, former homes to upper middle class people and politicians, could bring ideas about gentrification.

Swaths of vacant former commercial property could be sold to developers willing to put businesses in.

It is hoped the promoters do not forget the people of Lawndale.

They should recruit and hire as many from the neighborhood as possible. It should be a requirement for them getting the permits approved. If it means getting them various union memberships, they should do it. If not, tell the unions to get lost.

The unions will not protest or call for boycotts of Riot Fest. The unions know how much people in Lawndale detest them. If the unions showed up to block non-union people, Riot Fest would turn into a riot.

Very few residents of Lawndale are allowed to belong to any of the trade and entertainment unions. You can guess the reason.

Riot Fest could be a boon for Lawndale. It won't. It will come and go. Lawndale will be Lawndale. Douglas Park will remain an idyllic setting in a wasteland of vacant lots and broken dreams.

The politicians, especially the career politicians, who represent Lawndale in the City Council, Illinois State House, and United States Congress like Lawndale just the way it is. Impoverished, dependent, and crime ridden.

Why change fifty plus years of neglect? Unlike the politicians who represent the south end of Lawndale, Little Village, Heart of Chicago, and part of Pilsen, North Lawndale's politicians love impoverished people. They love poor people so much, they keep them in poverty.

How could they hold publicity and media stunts, handing out holiday turkeys and hams to working people. Somehow that would not go over well.

Despite dreamtown Realty's renaming Lawndale to Douglas and gushing about its bucolic charm, Lawndale is Lawndale.

Lawndale is where dreams go to die.

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