Letter to the Logan Square Community (in response to Meek Mill Friday 13th Show) from Eddie Carranza

By at April 14, 2012 | 7:43 pm | Print

The Pipeline is sharing this letter with the permission of Eddie Carranza, owner of the venue.

Logan Square Community-

On Friday,  local neighbors probably looked out their windows and saw something that looked pretty scary, with all the lights, police, fire department, people outside and the street closure.  I’d like to be clear on the specifics of what happened so that the community is not alarmed.  Friday night we hosted an urban Hip Hop show, it was very small we were only at 28% capacity. There was a scuffle inside the venue between patrons, and congress security quickly removed the individuals from the venue.   These types of scuffles are common at concert venues across the country.  Our staff is trained to recognize them, diffuse the problem, and get the individuals out of the building in a safe manner.

Friday night was different, because there was “additional security” paid by the Alderman himself, who reacted poorly and prematurely. This happened due to their inexperience and lack of training in handling these types of situations, (which is why we have consistently stated we don’t need their “volunteer” paid service). The Alderman’s security called the police AND the Alderman himself to hurry over to the venue. Somehow, (still unknown to Congress) upon the arrival of the Alderman and an exaggerated number of police larger than we’ve ever seen, arrived along with the fire department.  The street was shut down, paid ticket holders were not let inside while the fire department had to perform their task of investigating the venue under the allegation it was over capacity.  Congress was only at 29% capacity, it felt like an empty theater.   The fire department agreed and let the concert continue.

Our theater had a great security presence that night, 40 well trained and very strict security in total, many including off duty Chicago Police.  They are trained to handle shows 3-4 times that size, and last night’s show was only at 29% capacity (relatively small by concert standards).  The Alderman either didn’t believe in our security work, or thought it wasn’t enough, because he notified the public prior to the concert he would be hiring 2 untrained and  inexperienced security guards (paid for out his own pocket) , and this would keep the neighborhood safe.  This WARNING email was sent out in regards to one of the musicians, a Chicago minor who is under house arrest at his Grandmother’s home on the south side. The email gave the image that he, his music, or the crowd he brings is dangerous.  This kid has not been charged as guilty, it’s a pending legal matter. We have a system in our country that says a person innocent until proven guilty.

This WARNING email sent out to the community is NOT a good reflection our countries political system.  Instead the email evoked fear  and concern to the neighborhood, and branded the concert as potentially dangerous due to the type of music, toy guns, foul language (none different than what I’ve heard used on the alderman and now on video) the crowd it brings, and a pending legal matter that has yet to be resolved. I understand that not everybody likes or understands rap music, nor do they have to.  Music is a freedom of expression and this local Chicago kid’s music is becoming recognized all through the music community.  A judge who works for our US legal system granted this kid permission to come and perform, the judge didn’t think the artist was a threat to the community so why did the Alderman?

Untrained security working in or around The Congress Theater is a BAD idea, whether they are paid or volunteer.  Their poor decision to phone the police massively disturbed the concert, made patrons angry, woke up neighbors, offended reporters, blocked traffic, started rumors about shootings, caused the promoter to lose money and the ticketing agent to offer refunds to those who couldn’t get inside, made the neighborhood look dangerous, finally further damaged the reputation of a kid whose case has yet to have been decided, and finally adds to more negative press for congress theater.

This is mad behavior and it needs to stop.  It doesn’t matter whether Friday’s sequence of events was racially inspired or part of a personal vendetta against Congress.  This has gone too far. We are good for the community, we bring in a lot of business, we give back to our neighbors, we donate space for the farmers market, we give to charities.  Any accusations, racially driven or false rumors leave people to believe both Congress and the neighborhood are dangerous.  We work hard to build our image and others appear to be working entirely to destroy it.


Eddie Carranza
Owner- The Congress Theater

2135 N. Milwaukee Avenue

Sent from my iPhone


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  1. Ryan, 3 years ago Reply

    Is the alderman related to Tipper Gore?

  2. barbara, 3 years ago Reply

    I read the Jim DeRegotis’ article, “More Trouble at the Congress Theater”, http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-04/more-trouble-congress-theater-98249#comments

    with disgust as the facts of this article are an obvious one-sided campaign and completely distorted. I replied, but unfortunately did not meet the standards of Jim’s moderation filter. It’s been over 5 hours, I assume it’s not being posted, so I will exercise my freedom of speech here. And I have several replacement headlines that Jim could have used for this piece that would have reflected more accuracy of the situation such as:

    “Congress receives more harassment from the Alderman’s Office”. Or
    “Congress Ejects Unruly Rap Show Patron, Alderman’s Office Responds by Calling It “A Riot” and Solicits Public Resources Without Getting Facts”. Or
    “Aldermanic Office Upstages Rap Artist, Performs Theatrics in the Street”.
    Or one more, “Alderman Office Wields Power: Abuses Taxpayer Resources, Unduly Closing Down Milwaukee Avenue and Haranguing Brigades of Police, Fireman and Emergency Responders ”.
    It’s out of control theatrics, and unlike some people I am not “going with the Officials and the Police on this one”. I quite frankly, question what is really going on here and I’m very concerned at the perceived abuse of power. Because the fight isn’t what caused Milwaukee Avenue to be shut down, the untrained Ward Aids that over-reacted did. By the time the circus arrived, there was no issue because as in any music venue, it was handled by security. The fire chief showed up, looked around, and despite pleas from the Alderman’s Office to “shut the place down” the fire chief did not. Know why? Because Congress did NOTHING wrong. This behavior by our elected officials is harassing in my opinion, its targeted, and down-right menacing.

    After reading Mr. Carranza’s note, a heartfelt and factual one, everyone should really think about this over-reaction to an ejected Rap show patron and the burden it places on our desperately needed resources. It’s a total abuse of power and I sincerely question the motivations here.
    I also question Jim’s need to “show us youtube video” of the rap act from Friday, when most of the community complaints were against the electronic shows. I attended the Sunday community meeting on this and the Saturday BassNector show at the last minute, namely to see what the hype of these electronic shows was all about. What I saw, and what my 40+ something friends also saw, was a bunch of 20-something, mostly white kids hanging out and having an absolute blast. Seriously, it was like deadheads, meets phishheads, meets rockfans. Kids had t-shirts off, smiling, laughing…the theater was very near its 4,000 person capacity, despite the rain. I guess the youtube of the BassNector show would not have as easily attracted the fear factor needed to incite a warning to neighbors, a shutdown of the street. Because the youtube of BassNector would have displayed a bunch of white kids, same age, same need to dance and sing, different music than that of Friday’s Mik Mill show. Nobody was shutting down the street last night and everyone filed out nicely, just as did the 1,300 attendees show from Friday’s mostly African American attended Hip Hop show. Only we know the difference in attacks.
    As we know, our City has had an outbreak of gun violence, our police department is stressed and stretched thin, our Mayor is calling for more arrests and a crack-down on gun violence, and then something this overzealous and senseless happens. The nitpicking has to stop. Our political fights cannot escalate to point of bleeding public resources and our police need to be left alone to do their real jobs, instead of being used as political pawns.

  3. Katie, 3 years ago Reply

    We love the Congress. If anything happens to it, or if it goes away,we can blame the Alderman. Our businesses are filled up on congress concert nights, losing that would be a blow to our local neighborhood economy.

    Alderman Moreno leave the Congress alone and go fight real issues.

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