Chicago City Wire

Chicago City Wire

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Arena accused of bullying opponents of Northwest Highway development

Local Government

By Robert Hadley | Mar 23, 2018

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Alderman John Arena, who represents the 45th Ward, is accused of cyberstalking a police officer, allegedly over her opposition to a building at 5150 N. Northwest Highway.

Police officer Erin Jones and several other city employees, including some firefighters, have been the target of cyberbullying or have had complaints filed against them with their superiors in retaliation for their opposition, according to a post on the Fraternal Order of Police’s blog.

The development in question requires a change in regulations to allow construction of a warehouse and an apartment complex. Critics say the project requires “upzoning,” a controversial practice that allows businesses to operate in or near residential areas.


John Arena, Chicago's 45th Ward Alderman | Facebook

On the Northwest Side Neighbors News Facebook page, a group organized to oppose the 5150 N. Northwest Highway project, a March 21 post reads: “A pregnant female police officer has received threatening and harassing messages via private Facebook message from Alderman John Arena.” It is marked with the hashtag “#WeStandWithErin.”

In the FOP account of the alleged harassment, a screenshot of the message exchange quotes Arena as saying: “I only want to fire bigots like you.” When Jones asks Arena to stop harassing her, the screenshot shows him responding, “Got it snowflake.”

The lawyer representing the officers who were allegedly harassed sent a cease-and-desist letter to Arena on Feb. 8, reading in part: “We urge you to immediately retract these complaints and publically apologize to these officers to avoid serious penalties and further damage to your credibility.”

Arena has represented the 45th Ward since 2011, according to Ballotpedia.org.

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