CBA Record October 2018
PRO BONOWEEK 2018– CELEBRATING THE POWER OF PRO BONO
ity left her with a drug addiction and few options for survival, causing her to engage in prostitution in Cook County. The court agreed with this argument, and, setting a precedent in Cook County, found that prostitution convictions obtained years after escaping trafficking may still be vacated due to the long-term psychological effects of sex trafficking and coerced drug abuse. We hope this precedent will help other survivors of trafficking vacate their convictions. Our client’s struggles are far from over, but we are glad that we were able to help her take the next step in rebuilding her life and pursuing her dream of helping others.
Community members’ tribal nations’ flags line the new AIC gymnasium.
building and fill it with condos. But not everyone was ready to leave. For 64 years, the old marble building had been home to the American Indian Center (AIC), a community space for tens of thou- sands of Native Americans and their descen- dants who’d been forcibly relocated from reservations scattered around the country. When community members founded the AIC in 1953, “It gave them a place where they felt—a safe place really—where they could go and be with other Native people and feel like they were still part of a com- munity,” explains Les Begay, a member of the Diné (Navajo) tribe and Chairman of the AIC’s Board of Directors. Since its founding, thousands of Native Americans representing about 80 different tribes have participated in the AIC’s food and clothing banks, health clinics, pow wows, archery les- sons, beading classes and storytelling nights. “A lot of people grew up at the Center,” explains Begay. “People talk about when they were small children they met some of their best friends, they met their husband or wife there, so it’s difficult for them to say goodbye.” Yet the once-pristine building, which was donated to the American Indian Center more than 50 years ago, was crum- bling around them.The two top floors were
blocked off due to asbestos. In the winter, staff used blowers to stay warm and heated water in their industrial kitchen. The AIC sought legal help and was paired with pro bono attorneys who would soon play a major role in shaping the orga- nization’s future: Marjorie Zessar, Katie Donnelly and Kristi Hayek. Zessar and Donnelly, attorneys at GGP Inc., understood that AIC wanted a per- manent building to call home. The Urban Indian Relocation Program of the 1950s had forced and “encouraged” Native Ameri- cans to leave their reservations and move to U.S. cities. Tens of thousands came to Chi- cago, creating a need for a common space at the American Indian Center. “When they came to Chicago, now this became their reservation,” says Begay. “So now we’re telling them, ‘you’ve got to move again.’” Knowing that the organization needed to move quickly, Zessar and Donnelly worked to engage brokers and financial consultants, and to address zoning, permit- ting, and tax issues. Finally, AIC found space just a few miles west at the Albany Park Community Center, an accessible building just a block away from the CTA with classrooms, a small kitchen, and a gymnasium. By selling their old building for $1.8 million, AIC
George Haines is a Tax Transactions & Con- sulting associate in Mayer Brown's Chicago office.
Lisa Holl Chang is a Restructuring, Bank- ruptcy & Insolvency associate in Mayer Brown’s Chicago office.
Relocation and Creating Home By Rachel Schwartz and Timna Axel
In October last year, an old Masonic temple building in Uptown, leaking heat from a broken boiler and partially restricted because of asbestos, was sold for almost $2 million to a developer with plans to gut the
44 OCTOBER 2018
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