Suffredin- An Advocate for All of Us  

Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions


  Office phone numbers:  

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.


The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

  The Cook County Forest Preserve District maintains over 70 miles of bicycle trails.

Tired of being harassed on the CTA, women fight back
ROGERS PARK | Activists who battled street abuse now focus on catcalls, other improper behavior on buses, trains

Monday, June 15, 2009
Chicago Sun-Times
by Mary Wisniewski

When Lillian Matanmi and her friends get on the L, they often hear catcalls and other unwelcome remarks from male passengers.

Like: "Don't you look sexy today." And: "I like how that little skirt fits on you."

One time, a man reached over and, uninvited, started massaging Matanmi's shoulders.

"I just got up and sat down somewhere else," said Matanmi, 19, who's a student at Malcolm X College. "I felt really uncomfortable and unsafe. I was scared that if I said the wrong thing, I'd be hurt."

Matanmi is a member of the Rogers Park Young Women's Action Team, a group of teen and college-age women who have fought street harassment in their neighborhood, distributing thousands of posters to businesses and homes to encourage people to shoo away congregating men so girls and women can walk in peace. They successfully pushed for better street lighting in the Far North Side neighborhood.

Now, the group has turned its attention to the "hey-babying" and other lewd language they hear on the CTA.

They surveyed 639 CTA riders, mostly young women, and found that harassment on CTA buses and trains is pretty common.

Next month, the group hopes to meet with the CTA's board to talk about ways to improve safety -- and help women deal with unwanted attention.

"A lot of people don't realize that when they're getting catcalled or someone touches them in the wrong way, that's harassment," Matanmi said. "They think that's just part of their day."

Just over half of those surveyed said they'd been sexually harassed on the CTA. Thirteen percent said they'd been sexually assaulted.

Of those who had been harassed or assaulted, 91 percent said they didn't file a complaint with the police or the CTA. The transit agency had two recorded incidents of criminal sexual assault systemwide for all of last year.

Forty-four percent of those surveyed said they'd witnessed harassment or assault on the CTA, but only 22 percent said they intervened.

Daphnee Rene, 21, a DePaul University student who's a member of the Rogers Park group, said women sometimes don't report being harassed because they figure that, by the time they get to a CTA worker, the harasser is gone.

Ronnett Lockett, 20, a Northern Illinois University student and another member of the group, said one problem is that women might be frightened and not know how to respond. Ads on trains would help people know what to do, Lockett said.

The group also wants CTA employees and police to be trained in how to deal with harassment.

"Sometimes, the bus driver sees it and won't say anything," Lockett said. "They probably don't know what to do."

What if a guy just thinks he's being friendly? For Lockett, harassment depends on what's said, and how it's said.

"If you come up to me and say, 'Hey, little mama, let me get your number,' you're harassing me," she said. "If you say, 'Hey, excuse me, how are you today?' I don't feel like you're harassing me."

But if someone says something nice, then keeps saying it after a woman says she isn't interested, that's harassment, too, said Matanmi.

CTA spokeswoman Noelle Gaffney said the agency takes these things "very seriously." But riders who feel threatened have to speak up, she said.

"Should a customer feel threatened at any time as the result of another individual's behavior, they should notify the rail operator immediately via the use of the emergency call button," Gaffney said.

At L stations, customer assistants or security guards are on duty during service hours, Gaffney said.

And CTA buses and many L stops are equipped with security cameras networked to the CTA's control center, Gaffney said. Some stations have already been renovated to include brighter lighting, and the agency is in the process of installing more security cameras.

To reach more people and push for improvements, the women's group is planning a poetry slam on sexual harassment on the CTA, to be held from 2 to 4 p.m. June 27 at Berger Park, 6206 N. Sheridan.

Recent Headlines

Cook County Board sends assault weapons referendum to the ballot
Thursday, July 24, 2014
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County mulls fund-of-funds investment, other changes
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Pensions & Investments

TIF Revenue Down 2 Percent in Suburban Cook Co.
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Palatine Patch

Recorder of Deeds staffers accused of political motive in firing
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County sheriff's department will focus on catching people wanted on arrest warrants
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Chicago Sun-Times

An unwelcome surprise from the Cook County health system
Monday, July 14, 2014
Chicago Tribune

New Cook County Health CEO must find millions in savings - stat
Monday, July 14, 2014
Crain's Chicago Business

Fitch cuts rating on Cook County
Saturday, July 12, 2014

Man trapped in Cook County Jail 30-plus hours files court papers
Thursday, July 10, 2014
Chicago Tribune

Man trapped in Cook County Jail visiting room for 31 hours
Wednesday, July 09, 2014
Chicago Tribune

Orr, Suffredin To Explain Expanded Voting Rules At Town Hall
Wednesday, July 09, 2014

County land bank sweeping up the debris of the housing crisis
Monday, July 07, 2014
Crain's Chicago Business

Exoneree Diaries: Jacques mentors in Cook County juvenile detention
Monday, July 07, 2014
WBEZ Chicago Public Radio

No way to paper over Circuit Court Clerk's record keeping: critics
Friday, July 04, 2014
Chicago Sun-Times

Meeting on changes in election law
Thursday, July 03, 2014
Evanston Now

Winnetka receives $2M grant, authorizes stormwater project bidding
Thursday, July 03, 2014
Pioneer Press

Winnetka receives grant for flood control work
Wednesday, July 02, 2014
Chicago Tribune

Same-day voter registration coming to Illinois
Sunday, June 29, 2014
Chicago Tribune

County health system names new CEO
Friday, June 27, 2014
Crain's Chicago Business

Cook County health system names new CEO
Friday, June 27, 2014
Crain's Chicago Business

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.