U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush is urging residents and community leaders to join him in a Veterans Day rally to protest Target’s plan to close stores in Morgan Park and Chatham.
The demonstration is set for 11 a.m. Monday at the Target in the South Loop, at 1154 S. Clark St.
Rush held a Keep Target Open community this month with residents who voiced frustration over the retailer’s plans at New Covenant Missionary Baptist Church, 754 E. 77th St.
Late last month, Target announced it will be closing the two South Side stores after the holiday, sparking outrage from residents and political leaders.
“I don’t know what kind of holiday plans you have on Monday,” Rush said Thursday. “But Target has to feel the heat. They need to feel the pressure. They need to know that we are not just going to accept their decisions without consulting with the community first.”
The congressman said Target executives have agreed to meet with community leaders next week, but the protest is important to apply pressure to the Minneapolis-based company beforehand.
Kimberley Eqonmwan, a life-long Park Manor resident, took the opportunity to voice her frustration.
“If this happened on the North Side, they would miss the Target, but they would be able to shift to any number of stores,” Eqonmwan said. “We must put our community, the African-American community, in a position so that we don’t ever have to depend on one store again.”
Malcolm Bonner, a Chatham resident, said he no longer wants to fight big businesses to stay in his community.
“Forget Target. I don’t understand why we have to fight them to come here, we have to fight them to stay and in 10 years am I going to have to fight them again?” Bonner said. “I’m tired of having to fight for food, I shouldn’t have to fight for food.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel signed an executive order this week that discourages large stores like Target from closing stores while simultaneously using TIF funding to expand or renovate existing ones. If a developer is in violation of the new order, the city maintains the right to terminate the TIF transaction.
Target expansions are already underway in Chicago as the company plans for new stores in Rogers Park and Logan Square over the next two years. The retail chain also plans to remodel 18 stores – many of which are in the city.
Despite the pleas, Target says the closure of the two South Side stores will happen.
“Despite investing millions of dollars in the shopping experience during the past six years, we saw multiple years of decline and underperformance.” Jacqueline DeBuse, a Target spokeswoman, said Thursday. “We are now focused on helping Target’s team members transfer to new locations and our goal is to ensure there are no job losses as a result of these closures.”
Manny Ramos is a corps member in Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster Sun-Times coverage of issues affecting Chicago’s South and West sides.