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Neighbors protest at landlord’s home

About three dozen people turned out in sweltering heat Wednesday night to picket the home of an Evanston landlord.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, who was among the organizers of the protest, said the landlord, Jean Gregoire of 2017 Warren St., owns a building at 435 Callan Ave.

“We very much raised awareness and pointed out to this guy’s neighbors that his property has been causing us grief,” Ald. Rainey said.

“We’ve tried everything to shape up the neighborhood,” she added, “Seeking fines for housing code violations, going to court over citations, having ‘positive presence’ gatherings in front of buildings. Sometimes we seem to be wasting our time.”

Ald. Rainey said that Sgt. Dennis Prieto of the Evanston Police Department warned her before the protest that picketing in a residential neighborhood violates a state law.

“He was intimidating,” Ald. Rainey said.

She posted a message to the 8th Ward message board threatening to “sue the crap out of” the police if she was arrested and encouraging neighbors to turn out for the demonstration.

“It is OK for mobs of thugs … to hang out in front of your buildings, but don’t think of embarrassing an influential landlord because the police will call you … and threaten you,” she told the neighbors.

Ald. Rainey said she plans other protests in coming weeks at the homes of other landlords she believes are mismanaging their properties.

Sgt. Prieto and Mr. Gregoire did not return calls today seeking comment.

Chapter 38 Sec. 21.1-2 of the Illinois Compiled statutes makes it unlawful to picket outside a person’s home except when the home is a place of employment involved in a labor dispute.

However the statute was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in Carey v. Brown, 447 U.S. 455 (1980).

That case involved protests outside the home of Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley over his alleged failure to support the busing of school children to achieve racial integration.

The court said that the content-based discrimination by the statute in favor of labor disputes violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

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