[Hpn] StreetWise Supporters Demonstrate at Board Meeting

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Wed, 14 Feb 2001 23:58:37 -0800 (PST)

FWD  Thu, 15 Feb 2001 01:48:15 -0600
REPLY TO author: Stephen P Konieczka <spkonieczka@juno.com>

Tom,  Here's my latest piece on StreetWise.  I don't have details yet as
to what occured at Monday's meeting, but am planning to get them ASAP.
I'll keep you updated and be sure to check out the Chicago IMC's web site
<http://chicago.indymedia.org> for lastest press releases from staff and

Stephen Konieczka


As the StreetWise board of directors gathered Tuesday evening, members of
the editorial staff, vendors and over 50 of their supporters demonstrated
outside the paper's offices on S. Michigan Ave to denounce the recent
retaliatory firings and censorship at the publication.

On Jan. 12 and Feb. 6 respectively, Editor in Chief Jalyne Strong and
Associate Editor Kari Lyderson, Commentary Editor John Wilson, Production
Chief Allen Gomez and writer and vendor Rayford Allen were fired.  Just
prior to being discharged all five staff members submitted letters of
grievance to the board of directors charging that StreetWiseís Executive
Director Anthony Oliver engages in finical mismanagement, abuses the
staff and a lacks consideration for the vendors.

When it became obvious that the Feb. 12 edition of StreetWise could not
be produced without the editorial staff, Ms. Lyderson, Mr. Wilson, Mr.
Gomez and Mr. Allen were rehired.  Ms. Strong was not.

At the direction of the board Mr. Oliver was to have "no say in the paper
and no contact with the editorial staff."  Feb. 8, as Mr. Gomez left the
StreetWise offices on with the Feb. 12 edition of the paper, Mr. Oliver
took the files from him and proceeded to delete an editorial about the
recent events at StreetWise.

"I give up on him at this point," Karen Harris, a StreetWise supporter
said Tuesday.

All the staff who were rehired Feb. 8 are still at work this week.  The
staff, however, continually stresses the instability of their employment
with StreetWise.

"We need this city to get behind us and support us," StreetWise vendor
Devin Nealy said.

StreetWise  vendors, Chicago's homeless and poor, sell the paper as means
of finical support. To ensure the vendors had a product to sell, the
staff agreed to return to work Feb. 8 without any guarantee they would be
employed Monday.

The vendors, however, are polarized in their opinion of Mr. Oliver.

Mr. Wilson said that most of the vendors are uninformed of the current
situation and that Mr. Oliver is rallying them against the staff.

ì[Mr. Oliver's] had his opportunity to present his case before the
vendors and we have been limited in presenting ours,î Mr. Allen said.

"Anthony Oliver brought us a mighty long way," vendor Tyron Raymon said

A source who refused to be named said that Mr. Oliver is telling the
vendors that the staff is trying to take over the paper, make it a
socialist/communist paper and are generally "snakes in the grass."

"Constant lies," Mr. Nealy said of Mr. Oliver's discussions about the
situation with vendors. "He promotes a 'comfortability' that he cares
about us, but he doesnít.  He doesnít give a shit about us."

"You out their writing for him and trying to tear the paper down," Mr.
Raymond said, "I will support Anthony Oliver all the way."

"Why don't you hold some signs up saying 'Keep Becker in Jail for
killing' instead of talking bout this," vendor Francine  Phillips said,
referring to the former Chicago police officer Gregory Becker who shot
and killed StreetWise vendor Joseph Gould in 1995 and was recently
released from prison.

When told that the people protesting support the vendors, Ms. Phillips
said, "Oh, ok, ok."

Minutes later she was arguing with Mr. Nealy about whose shoulders bear
blame for the current situation at StreetWise.

"I just don't want a rock!  I just don't want a wine.  I just don't want
some dope.  I just don't want some dope, I want some hope! I want a way
out of this, sister," Mr. Nealy said.

"I'm tired, I'm sick and I want a change.  We can be a lot more than we
are now," he said.


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