Flanked by fellow Arab business owners, American Arab Chamber of Commerce of Chicagoland President Hassan Abdallah accused the Lightfoot Administration of actions he and others consider bigoted. --Greater Southwest News-Herald photo by Tim Hadac

Flanked by fellow Arab business owners, American Arab Chamber of Commerce of Chicagoland President Hassan Abdallah accused the Lightfoot Administration of actions he and others consider bigoted. --Greater Southwest News-Herald photo by Tim Hadac

Arab business owners accuse mayor of bigotry

Lightfoot unfairly shutting gas stations, they say

By Tim Hadac and Jeff Vorva

It’s not every day that Mayor Lori Lightfoot is likened to former President Donald Trump, but that’s what happened earlier this week as more than a dozen independent gas station owners essentially accused her of anti-Arab bigotry.

Business owners gathered at a press conference at Falcon Fuel, 7858 S. Western, a gas station shuttered by the Lightfoot Administration back in July over building code violations.

GSWNH GasStationOwners 091721

Flanked by fellow Arab business owners, American Arab Chamber of Commerce of Chicagoland President Hassan Abdallah accused the Lightfoot Administration of actions he and others consider bigoted. –Greater Southwest News-Herald photo by Tim Hadac

Lightfoot, like Mayors Emanuel and Daley before her, uses a multi-agency task force to lean on so-called “problem” businesses allegedly associated with criminal activity like drug dealing, prostitution and more. The task force typically uses municipal law to issue and citations and shut down businesses they target.

The owners at the press conference said Lightfoot is targeting Arab business owners, although they offered no data to back up the claim.

They said they staged the press conference around the 9/11 anniversary to show that anti-Arab bigotry is still a menace to society, perhaps especially in City Hall—and they likened her attitude to that of Trump and his supporters, some of whom rioted at the Capitol earlier this year.

The press conference at 79th and Western followed one held last week in Bridgeview, where the same grievances were aired.

“The code violations range from the ridiculous to the frivolous and clearly are intended only to create a cause to justify the forced closure of our gas stations and grocery stores,” reads a letter to a number of aldermen whose wards are home to gas stations that have been shuttered.

Owners say they have been told by inspectors that shutting their businesses down would discourage gang violence. Hassan Nijem, the president of the American Arab Chamber of Commerce of Chicagoland, said these businesses are not the cause of gang violence.

“We want to find out what’s going on and why they are doing this,” he said. “Why are they harassing them? We are hearing a lot of horror stories about the inspectors and the task force coming to shut them down for months and months.

“I wish our mayor would listen to us and do something about it. Revenue and jobs are being lost. Everybody loses in this. The city, the county and the state.”

Hassan Abdallah, president of the American Arab Chamber of Commerce of Chicagoland, said he hopes Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s task force will stop targeting gas station owners. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Saad Malley, who said he has been an owner since 1979, said this “reeks of racism.” What also angers him about this situation is that stations and stores were open during the pandemic and provided essential services.

“I say shame on the city to target us,” Malley said. “The essential businesses that stood during that pandemic putting our lives and health at risk are being targeted.”

Group members say the pattern is the same. The inspectors come on Friday afternoon and make their determinations and the businesses have to close down for at least the weekend.

“It is their intention to close as many places as can,” said Mohammed Abdallah, who had three of his 11 stations close. “When they come, they bring a lot of cars and police. It’s like a crime scene or a drug raid.”

Shihdeh Abu-Khalil said he has been a gas station owner for 30 years and does not like this recent treatment.

“This is my city,” he said. “When I travel abroad, when they ask me where I am from, I don’t say I’m from America or Illinois, I say I’m from Chicago.

“I love Chicago. We do a service for the community. So, for the city to come and shut us down, is not fair and it’s not just.”

Local News

Peggy Zabicki

Senior Center has re-opened

By Peggy Zabicki Your correspondent in West Lawn 3633 W. 60th Place • (773) 504-9327 I hope everyone has been able to enjoy the beautiful autumn weather we’ve been blessed with. I visited the Southwest Regional Senior Center, 6117 S. Kedzie, recently. They are open once again, and everything looks very nice. New floors were installed and there are freshly painted…

Mary Stanek

Tabares’ shred day was a fun event

By Mary Stanek Your correspondent in Archer Heights and West Elsdon 3808 W. 57th Place • (773) 284-7394 Happy National Pizza Month! Don’t we live in a great neighborhood for pizza? There are so many pizza parlors to choose from. There are the big chains and the mom-and-pop establishments. I volunteered on last week at…

Kathy Headley

Kids visit gas station with a purpose

By Kathy Headley Your correspondent in Chicago Lawn and Marquette Manor 6610 S. Francisco • (773) 776-7778 Last Thursday, third graders from McKay School visited the new Roux Gas Station at 7051 S. Western. The station was recently built on the vacant lot where Napleton Buick and its predecessor, Van Male Buick, once stood. Now…

SRP-IMAGE-Logo

Mount Carmel tested in win over Brother Rice

By Steve Millar Correspondent After Mount Carmel beat each of its first five opponents by 24 points or more, senior quarterback Blainey Dowling thinks it is good the Caravan had to fight to the end against an upset-minded Brother Rice team. Dowling ran for the game-winning 15-yard touchdown with 1:58 left to lift Mount Carmel…

In just its second year as a team, St. Laurence's girls golfers won a regional title. Photo courtesy of St. Laurence

Area Sports Roundup: St. Laurence golfers make history

By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer   That didn’t take long. The St. Laurence girls golf program is in only its second year of existence but last weekend celebrated a major accomplishment. Coach Jim Tracy’s troops won the Providence Catholic Class 1A Regional by four strokes, logging a 372 to edge University High (Chicago), which finished…

SXU coach Mike Feminis reacts as the final horn goes off as he earns his 200th career win in a thriller over 18th-ranked Roosevelt. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Pigskin Wrap: St. Xavier tops Roosevelt in thriller, gets Feminis career win No. 200

By Jeff Vorva Staff writer Saint Xavier coach Mike Feminis was gunning for his 200th career victory, but it looked more like he might be tagged with his 78th career loss. After wasting a 14-point halftime lead, the Cougars found themselves down six in the closing minute of the Homecoming game Oct. 1 at Bruce…

Three aldermen (from left)--Raymond Lopez, Silvana Tabares and Anthony Napolitano—stand alone in City Council last week, as their resolution to hold a hearing on the SAFE-T Act failed to muster any votes other than their own. --Supplied photo

Lopez, Tabares threaten ‘no cash bail’ hearing

Claim law may release ‘violent, repeat offenders’ By Tim Hadac Two Southwest Side aldermen are threatening to defy their City Council colleagues and hold hearings on the impact of the state’s controversial SAFE-T Act on criminal justice. Fifteenth Ward Ald. Raymond Lopez and 23rd Ward Ald. Silvana Tabares joined 41st Ward Ald. Anthony Napolitano last…

CRRNH_SwiderskiAt8_100522

They’ll never walk alone

Southwest Side native Robert Swiderski was mobbed by well-wishers at the entrance to the Chicago Lawn (8th) District police station last week, as he delivered a penny to each officer. The gesture was meant as a kind of conver- sation starter (“A penny for your thoughts?”) with police officers regarding job stress and mental health.…

Bob “Father Bob” Paxton outside Pizza Castle on 55th Street. --Supplied photo

Tears, cheers for ‘Father Bob’

Friends recall colorful character, loving heart (Editor’s note: this story appeared in the March 2, 2018 edition of the Southwest News-Herald.) By Anthony Caciopo It was a sweet sendoff for a sweet man. With the uplifting melody of “Amazing Grace” filling Hope Covenant Church in Orland Park, about 75 friends and loved ones of Robert…

GSWNH_HugosElvis_093022

Welcome to Rocktober

Classic cars, Elvis tribute artist headline a busy month By Tim Hadac The Southwest Side will start—and end–October with some classic fun designed to jog recollections of good times and create new moments to remember. A classic car show featuring dozens of sweet rides from decades gone by is set for 1 to 4 p.m.…

Neighbors

Nael Digital Ad2
Illinois Supreme Court denies former lawmakers’ claim for back pay

Illinois Supreme Court denies former lawmakers’ claim for back pay

By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a lawsuit filed by two former state legislators who sued for back pay they believed they were due for raises that they voted against while in office. Former Sen. Michael Noland, D-Elgin, and former Sen. James Clayborne, D-Belleville, argued…

Illinois takes Equal Rights Amendment to appeals court

Illinois takes Equal Rights Amendment to appeals court

By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Attorneys for the state of Illinois joined their colleagues in Nevada and Virginia Wednesday in asking a federal appellate court to declare that the Equal Rights Amendment has been legally ratified as the 28th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. “I have a daughter who intends to…

CAPITOL RECAP: State announces further unemployment debt repayment

CAPITOL RECAP: State announces further unemployment debt repayment

SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker announced a plan Tuesday, Sept. 27, to reduce a $1.8 billion Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund deficit by $450 million through an infusion of unemployment-related revenues. The trust fund is the pool of money paid into by employers to provide a social safety net for unemployed individuals. The employer’s insurance premiums…

State to reduce $1.8 billion federal unemployment debt by $450 million

State to reduce $1.8 billion federal unemployment debt by $450 million

By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker announced a plan Tuesday to reduce a $1.8 billion Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund deficit by $450 million through an infusion of unemployment-related revenues. The trust fund is the pool of money paid into by employers to provide a social safety net for unemployed…

Capitol News Illinois to expand operations with $2 million McCormick Foundation grant

Capitol News Illinois to expand operations with $2 million McCormick Foundation grant

By CAPITOL NEWS ILLINOIS SPRINGFIELD – Capitol News Illinois will significantly expand its operations as it enters the fifth year of operations in 2023 because of a significant grant from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. The McCormick Foundation has announced a three-year, $2 million investment in Capitol News Illinois, a nonprofit news organization that provides…

State Sen. Emil Jones III pleads not guilty in bribery case

State Sen. Emil Jones III pleads not guilty in bribery case

By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – State Sen. Emil Jones III pleaded not guilty in federal court Friday to three felony counts stemming from an alleged bribery scheme involving a red light camera company. Jones, 44, is a Chicago Democrat who has served in the Senate since 2009. He is also the…

Pritzker urges two lawmakers to resign

Pritzker urges two lawmakers to resign

By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker called on two Democratic state senators Thursday to resign their seats amid allegations of misconduct. Sen. Emil Jones III, D-Chicago, was charged in federal court earlier this week with soliciting a $5,000 bribe from a red light camera company. And Sen. Michael Hastings,…

Pritzker urges two lawmakers to resign

Pritzker urges two lawmakers to resign

By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker called on two Democratic state senators Thursday to resign their seats amid allegations of misconduct. Sen. Emil Jones III, D-Chicago, was charged in federal court earlier this week with soliciting a $5,000 bribe from a red light camera company. And Sen. Michael Hastings,…

Illinois Supreme Court denies former lawmakers’ claim for back pay

Illinois Supreme Court denies former lawmakers’ claim for back pay

By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a lawsuit filed by two former state legislators who sued for back pay they believed they were due for raises that they voted against while in office. Former Sen. Michael Noland, D-Elgin, and former Sen. James Clayborne, D-Belleville, argued…

CAPITOL RECAP: Another Democratic senator charged in bribery scheme

CAPITOL RECAP: Another Democratic senator charged in bribery scheme

By CAPITOL NEWS ILLINOIS SPRINGFIELD – State Sen. Emil Jones III has been charged in federal court with three criminal counts tied to his dealings with a red light camera company. Jones, a Chicago Democrat, is the son of former Senate President Emil Jones Jr. The younger Jones has served in the Senate since 2009…

CRR NH Airport Heating Cooling
CRR NH Remax Villegas House Ad