Property owner Christopher Amatore said he was threatened by Ald. Greg Mitchell (left) over his decision to house migrants in properties Amatore owns in Mitchell’s ward. The properties include an apartment building at 7831-7833 S. Colfax Ave. (right). Amatore has filed a complaint with the inspector general, saying he did notify Mitchell’s office, and has spent $150,000 of his own money to help the migrants.
Sun-Times file photo, Google Maps
A member of Mayor Brandon Johnson’s City Council leadership team was accused this week of threatening the life of one of his constituents because he was housing 448 migrants in local buildings he owns — spending $150,000 of his own money so far.
In a complaint filed with Inspector General Deborah Witzburg and emailed to all 50 alderpersons, building owner Christopher Amatore says he was summoned to a meeting Monday at the ward office of Ald. Greg Mitchell (7th).
That’s where a “screaming” Mitchell “threatened my life, threatened to terminate a Chicago Housing Authority contract my company, Manage Chicago Inc., has … and threatened” to block “a potential zoning change” Amatore had discussed with a deputy buildings commissioner.
The late afternoon meeting at Mitchell’s ward office at 2249 E. 95th St. took place after WLS-TV (Channel 7) aired a story highlighting Amatore’s decision to house hundreds of migrants at his own expense at a time when the 28 shelters owned and operated by the city are filled to capacity with 13,878 asylum-seekers. Another 180 migrants are sleeping on the floor at O’Hare International Airport while awaiting placement.
“Mitchell immediately started pointing his finger at me and raising his voice telling me that I am a problem for him and how dare I place migrants in his ward without his permission,” Amatore’s complaint states.
Amatore replied he did try to meet with Mitchell to tell the alderperson about his plan to move 448 migrants into buildings he owns at 7831-7833 S. Colfax Ave, and 7933-7935 S. Essex Ave. When staffers told him Mitchell was not available, Amatore says he “filled out a form and put in the description of what I intended to do,” but never received a response.
The explanation apparently did not sit well with Mitchell, who demanded to know why Amatore helps “migrants only” and doesn’t “help Black people in his ward.”
A finger-pointing Mitchell then “threw papers off his desk and stood up and looked down on me and screamed at the top of his lungs. [He said], `You better watch your f—-ing ass walking around my ward because you are no longer safe.’ Then, he said, `You have a f—ing CHA contract, don’t you? Consider that terminated. After I make one phone call, you can kiss that s–t goodbye.”
With a witness present in the alderperson’s office, Amatore said he “explained to Mitchell” that he had “not received any money from anyone” to house the migrants and offered to “find a place in another alderman’s ward if the migrants were not allowed” in Mitchell’s Far South Side ward.
“I offered to help move the migrants if he told me where to move them,” Amatore wrote in the complaint.
Mitchell, who chairs the City Council’s Transportation Committee, did not respond to repeated phone calls.
In a text message to the Sun-Times, he wrote: “I understand that you are contacting me regarding a letter written by Chris Amatore, president and founder of Manage Chicago. Please be advised that I have not received or had the chance to review the referenced letter. As such, I am not in a position at this time to respond to inquiries or take action [if deemed necessary] related to anything stated in this letter.”
Witzburg refused to comment.
Contacted by the Sun-Times, Amatore would not elaborate further on his complaint.
“He threatened my life and bodily harm and he threatened to remove a contract I have with the Chicago Housing Authority and he said he was going to block some zoning thing that I have nothing to do with,” Amatore told the Sun-Times.
Mitchell’s alleged behind-the-scenes tirade underscores the historic political tensions between Blacks and Hispanics exacerbated by the migrant crisis.
Last fall, Mitchell demanded to know why an ordinance authorizing that the city accept a $33 million federal grant stipulated that the money is for “non-citizen migrants” while a $3.5 million state grant to support 13 homeless shelters and four service organizations charged with “engagement and outreach” was open to anyone who is unhoused.
“We’re getting questions and getting a lot of push back from our community. We’re getting tents in parks. We’re getting all of this stuff. And nobody in my community is appreciative of any of this,” he said then.
About a month later, Mitchell got into a physical altercation in the City Hall lobby with a man who was attempting to record a TikTok video of Mitchell talking to a woman complaining that the migrant crisis was siphoning city funding that could be going to Black veterans.
An irate Mitchell then grabbed the phone to stop the video and was shoved by the man, who was subsequently arrested.