The BOLD Faced Lie!

“What’s up with this dude Joe?”
“Why’d he tell a bold faced lie like that?”
“This guy’s a joke, making up stories like this one!”
“This dude’s evil, telling bold faced lies like this so he can get in office!”
“He ain’t paying or hiring none of your security guards; who does he think he is?”
“I’m telling everyone not to vote for him, I'll be mad if they do, coz this dude's something else!”
“Come on now; let’s be real! Where were all these muggings and violence?”
“Why does this guy hate homeless people so much?”
"Why does he enjoy to lie on us and you all?"

These are just a few of the comments aimed in my direction as I walked down Wilson Avenue after a few people had viewed the flier. These people were aggravated, angry and despondent by what they saw.

The next day, a 77 year old man reads the pamphlet and says to me, “Did you read this crap? If I could get my hands on him I’d wring his neck! Lying on you guys like this. This man is a bold faced liar. A bold faced liar, I say!” This man made me laugh, as he can barely walk 5 steps without losing his breath, let alone wring someone’s neck! He then raised his fist and said, “he needs one of these!”

When I write: I normally focus my attention on advocating and standing up for homeless and disenfranchised people. This time, I’m focusing my attention on Cornerstone Community Outreach, the organization I work for. This little insignificant protest is simply a small attempt at trying to be a voice for the voiceless. The reality is; any mud slung at CCO is mud slung at the hundreds of homeless and disenfranchised people we serve on a daily basis!

The BOLD Faced Lie” is a response to a political pamphlet that has recently been circulating for Uptown’s upcoming aldermanic election on April 5th. Personally, I do not support any political party or person. I believe that politics is governed by power and money; it constantly works against the loving “Kingdom of God” that Jesus spoke of and lived. This is simply a response to a political pamphlet I know is a bold faced lie.

I have heard James Cappleman speak on many occasions and he often stretches the truth to satisfy his own platform. Most politicians do this! For example: he claimed (at the Borders forum) to have tirelessly worked with Sandy Ramsey to clean up “Blood Alley”. The truth: They both attended a couple task-force meetings to deal with excessive loitering, intoxication and misplaced dumpsters on Clifton Avenue. Sandy was the one who worked tirelessly as she sat out there with the men and women by assessing and helping them, while Mr. Cappleman rarely ventured down the block.

When this new flier came out, I had many people come to me and ask what we are going to do about it and how do we stand up for the truth. My response was that there is not much we can do, as history has proved that any verbal or written response is received with much ridicule and scorn by websites like Uptown Update. When people protested our men’s shelter back in 2001 until 2004, they liked to use terminology like “parolees, sex offenders, women and children, unlicensed day-care” in one sentence and creating fear in the heart of a certain section of Uptown. In reality, and if people really wanted to know the truth, they would have discovered the day-care was compliant with the city and we had no sex offenders living with us. But the propaganda continued and there was no chance for dialogue.

This is the phrase that is causing a stir and is a blatant bold faced lie:
When muggings and other forms of violence plagued “Blood Alley” in Uptown, James Cappleman fought to clean it up by bringing in new security guards.

The Truth:
The 77 year old man sat in the office steaming at the pamphlet. He has lived in Uptown for over 40 years. Many years ago, before CCO purchased their buildings, he used to live in the Wilson Men’s Hotel. He told Sandy and I, that in those days, he used to witness horrible things out his window; he saw rape, muggings and excessive brutality. The road was dark and a place known for crack-heads to smoke the pipe and junkies to shoot up. The road was also known for police brutality and other forms of violence. Clifton got its infamous nick-names (Blood Alley and Murder Alley) during this time period. As this old man sat in his chair reflecting; he was totally horrified at the street's past, but praised how clean and safe Clifton is today.

When CCO moved in, these activities continued for a short time because many of the offenders thought no-one lived in the street. As they discovered that a new homeless shelter occupied the dark street, the horrible crimes began to disappear. Beth (my wife) worked many overnight shifts during this time and witnessed some of the above things.

Over the years, the pot holes were filled and lighting came into the street. CCO purchased the 4615 building in 2001 and we started helping more and more homeless people. When complaints began to come our way about our men “hanging in the alley” and "looking unsightly", we hired some security guards. They kept people moving and wouldn’t let them loiter in front of our 2 buildings or the recording studio next door. People from all over the city (who had ties to Uptown) gravitated to SW end of Clifton to simply chill out with their friends. They were not CCO residents, but past clients (many housed) of places like the Salvation Army, Harper House and us. They congregated here because they wanted community; they simply wanted to fellowship with their friends. They were not hanging in front of CCO or the studio; they were loitering beside the Wilson Men’s Hotel where we had no jurisdiction; so in our mind, the plan was working.

But complaints quickly rose in the neighborhood, so Sandy and I made diligent efforts to outreach them. We helped quite a few get housed, though they would still return for the fellowship. We went to task-force meetings and eventually we decided to tell our security guards to monitor all way from Broadway to Wilson. We gave all the loiterers a note regarding the “new plan”, put red tape on the ground for boundaries and hired another couple security guards. The whole street instantly cleared.

Admittedly, it was a lot easier than we expected. Many of the excessive loitering perpetrators came and specifically told me that the reason they moved wasn’t because of the police or new security guards, it was because of 2 reasons: they respected and loved us and we respected and loved them! Certain people who had a little more authority on the street told the others to honor our request, and they did. The security guards would calmly tell any forgetful soul to simply move on, and 99% of the time they moved without hassle. It was as plain and simple as that!

The thing that angers me and many others about the pamphlet are these 3 “bold faced lies”.

1). “Muggings and other forms of violence” happened in and before the ‘80s, before Cornerstone moved into the street. The primary problems on Clifton a couple years ago were loitering, drinking on a public way, intoxication and urination. Sometimes drugs were used and possibly sold. They would also occasionally get into an argument or fight, which they usually settled themselves. I never heard of a mugging. There was a murder that did happen in the middle of one night, but it had nothing to do with this crew. The security guards could not have stopped it, as all witnesses verify it was premeditated; he walked through 3 or 4 people and said, “you’re the moe I’m looking for!” and shot the other guy in the head 6 times.Then he calmly wandered away.

2) Use of the term “Blood Alley”. That term is used to produce fear and convey a certain message. Clifton lost that reputation years ago. Conflicts happen on Clifton and in CCO, but not enough to render that horrible name. Blood is rarely shed and peace is the usual outcome.

3) James Cappleman did not hire the security guards. He does not give them their paychecks. He did not bring them in. We already had security guards before the Clifton task-force starting meeting. The truth is: He was simply part of a fairly large group of people who met at Truman College and wanted to see Clifton without people loitering, drinking and urinating on the sidewalk.

My conclusion is this; Maybe Mr. Cappleman could bring an ounce of truth to his flier labeled as a “bold faced lie” by actually helping us pay our security guards. We could definitely use their wages to purchase certain items such as CTA cards which would benefit the clients.

I can proudly say that Cornerstone has served and continues to serve the community well, and it is an honor to work for them. March saw an abundance of people moving into apartments, getting birth certificates, State IDs, mental health treatment and so forth. A little mud slinging, false promotion and false accusations will not deter us from continuing to assist the hundreds of homeless folk seeking help. March saw 14 homeless men get successfully housed, our prayer is that would continue and 14 more homeless men will be housed in April.
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