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Protect Our Parks out of its lane in fighting Obama Presidential Center

Persons from outside of Jackson Park area have made stopping the Obama Presidential Center a crusade.

Jackson Park in Chicago, seen in 2015. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama have selected Jackson Park on Chicago’s South Side to build the presidential library near the University of Chicago, where Obama once taught constitutional law. |

It would be great if people cared about people as much as they care about animals and parks.

For instance, Fairlife, the maker of filtered milk, is under siege by people outraged over videos that show workers at one of its suppliers “kicking” and “throwing young calves.”

Three people have been charged with animal cruelty — a crime that should make us meat-eaters feel like hypocrites.

Frankly, just thinking about the contradiction makes me want to become a vegetarian.

As is too often the case in Chicago, it took an outsider to bust the animal abusers.

Fairlife is now in the inconvenient position of distancing itself from Fair Oaks Farms, a company founded by veterinarian Michael McCloskey, who also co-founded Fairlife with his wife.

Commenters on social media aren’t waiting for this mess to straighten itself out. They are calling for a boycott of Fairlife.

Meanwhile, police in Mundelein are looking for a driver who struck and killed a group of geese crossing the road.

While I always obey the “geese crossing” sign, I didn’t even know you could be charged for striking a marching band of geese.

But when a similar incident occurred in Chicago recently, witnesses stuck around long enough to report that the incident looked “intentional,” CBS2 reported.

Some of us get just as worked up over how public parks are used, as “Star Wars” creator George Lucas found out the hard way.

Lucas was forced to take his $400 million museum proposal to L.A. after “Friends of the Parks” challenged the proposed location.

The Obama Foundation hasn’t had an easy time of it either.

Besides getting pushback from community organizers purporting to represent the interests of residents in surrounding neighborhoods, persons from outside of those communities have made stopping the Obama Presidential Center a crusade.

Herbert L. Caplan is the founder of Protect Our Parks, the group that filed a lawsuit against the city of Chicago and the Chicago Park District in an effort to derail this historic project.

Caplan doesn’t live in South Shore or Woodlawn or any of the other communities that will be most impacted by the proposed presidential center.

But he apparently wants Jackson Park to stay just as it is — under-resourced and underused.

Protect Our Parks was organized in 2007 to stop the Latin School from turning a “natural grass” field in Lincoln Park into an “artificial turf soccer field.” They ultimately lost that battle, but not before taking the matter all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court, according to the group’s website.

On Tuesday, a federal judge handed Protect Our Parks another defeat, ruling that construction should commence without delay on the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park.

Caplan has vowed to take this fight to the Illinois Supreme Court, where he isn’t likely to win.

Still, the appeal could cause delays and that could impact fundraising for this historic project.

While the group’s lawyer described the project as a “giveaway” to the Obama Foundation a “shell game,” “illegal land grab” and “the poster child for a public trust violation,” it is actually a bold reimagining of the city’s neglected South Side.

But when it comes to development on the South and West Sides, people from outside of those communities have more to say than the people who actually live there.

Where were these people when the city was cut up into segregated silos that led to inequities in how public parks were maintained and resourced in the first place?

Who was protecting the parks then?

Even worse, why do we seem to be more concerned about the treatment of calves and geese than we are about the plight of children who are growing up in marginalized communities like the ones bordering Jackson Park?

The Obama Foundation is trying to raise money for the Presidential Center to spark a transformation, not to erect a monument.

That transformation will give children who are surrounded by parkland — but little else — opportunities that don’t exist today.

That transformation will allow longtime residents to recoup the equity they lost in homes drastically devalued because of disinvestment.

That transformation will finally give the South Side its due.

So care about the calves and the geese, but let the South Siders handle this.

Protecting someone’s long-ago vision for Jackson Park is just an excuse to keep the status quo.