Edgewater business owner says he’s been constantly harassed for years, city won’t help

Chicago
By Chicago 4 Min Read

CHICAGO (WLS) — Leif Forre, the owner of Wall to Wall Framing in Edgewater, says he’s been constantly harassed at his business for years, which has recently escalated, but the city won’t help.

There is now a post on the front display window of his shop, detailing some of the harassment Forre has seen in recent days in weeks, but he says it’s been a persistent problem for years and the city won’t help.

Wall to Wall Framing is seen as a staple in the Edgewater community, but Forre says the harassment he faces on Bryn Mawr Avenue has been constant.

“It’s a constant thing all day long,” he said. “This group of guys are just constantly drinking, throwing their garbage all over the place, harassing people, yelling at people.”

But the latest incident pushed him over the edge. He said on October 17, one man came back to harass him in front of the shop and escalated the situation by yelling a gay slur at Forre.

“I had to run over here and lock this door and he stood here and spit all over my windows,” Forre said. “Banged on my windows and threatened me with violence.”

Chicago police confirmed 52-year-old Derrick Stokes was arrested and faces one misdemeanor charge of assault. While Forre said he’s glad for that arrest, he added most of the time police are not able to help. Now he’s ready to leave the city entirely.

“It would be terrible. I’ve got a very established clientele here; they come from all over the city, but I’m going to have to do what I have to do for my own well-being and state of mind,” he said.

Andrew Johnston, who also owns a business in Edgewater, said he’s faced similar harassment.

“It’s disconcerting,” Johnston said. “Things are changing and there’s nobody doing anything about it.”

Ald. Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth, who represents the 48th Ward, said her office is trying to do more to stop these acts of hate. She issued a statement saying in part, “As a small business owner and queer woman of color, I feel for Leif… We have requested special attention from CPD on Bryn Mawr and Winthrop… I am also championing city-wide, long-term solutions including Treatment Not Trauma and Bring Chicago Home.”

Meanwhile, Rachel Kinnard said she’s complained to the alderwoman and city about her own harassment experiences in this area, but she’s upset with the lack of action that has followed.

“I’ve had a lot of similar experiences. That corner I’m always harassed and followed at all times of day. I don’t feel safe,” she said. “I want to see actual action. I got a response that they’re working on city wide solutions but I want to see something now.”

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