La Casita protesters plead not guilty
BY BECKY SCHLIKERMAN Staff Reporter October 18, 2013 5:24PM
- August 17: Whittier fieldhouse razed, protesters arrested
- How the Whittier fieldhouse tear down unfolded on social media
Updated: November 20, 2013 6:11AM
A group of protesters who were charged with trespassing after they tried to save a beloved Pilsen school fieldhouse pleaded not guilty Friday and are preparing to go to trial.
The nine protesters — among them community activists and Chicago Public Schools teachers — were charged with misdemeanor criminal trespass to state-supported land after they camped out in August in a failed attempt to save the Whittier Elementary School fieldhouse, known as La Casita. They were arrested when they tried to stop the demolition, which came without warning.
“We didn’t do anything wrong and so we’re not going to say we’re guilty of anything,” said former Whittier teacher and Chicago Teachers Union organizer Norine Gutekanst.
Asked if there was concern about the December trial, Gutekanst said, “When you stand up for what’s right, you just have to accept the consequences of that. We’re standing up for what’s right and for what we believe in.”
Meanwhile, the basketball courts, soccer field and playground that will replace the razed fieldhouse will be completed by Thanksgiving, a CPS spokeswoman said.