Always contentious hearings on whether to close failing Chicago schools have taken a bizarre twist this year with charges that cash-strapped residents were hired as “rent-a-protesters” and given pre-made signs and pre-crafted scripts to support school shakeups.
Two men told the Chicago Sun-Times they showed up to apply for financial help with their energy bills at the Englewood office of the HOPE Organization headed by Rev. Roosevelt Watkins III, only to be offered money to attend school-related “rallies” held Jan. 6. Watkins denies they were paid to protest, saying money paid was for training.
The reverends are at it again:
Watkins, pastor of Bethlehem Star M.B. Church and founder of Pastors United for Change, acknowledged he organized busloads of people to attend the Jan. 6 school closing hearings.
Yellow buses delivered people from 69th and Halsted, where HOPE’s Englewood office is, to at least three closing hearings on that date. The hearings concerned Crane High, Guggenheim Elementary and Reed Elementary, hearing participants told the Sun-Times.
Scott said he was offered $50 to speak at a hearing from what turned out to be scripted remarks.
Labels: city politics