Neighbors rally after elderly man's car towed

April 9, 2011 9:19:26 AM PDT
Neighborhood activists went to the aid of a West Side senior citizen after his car -- which contained his wheelchair-- was towed unexpectedly. And some of the residents are accusing a Chicago alderman of issuing the tow orders.

Area residents say they have been parking in a vacant parking lot in the 4500-block of West Jackson for nearly two decades, and no one ever questioned it until now.

But elderly resident Loelicious Yarborough discovered his was car gone, and with it, the walker and wheelchair inside of it. He found out a city crew had towed to it a West Side auto pound lot, along with seven other cars.

"My car was legal, had the plates, had everything on it that was supposed to go on the car," Yarborough said. "And I don't know why they pulled the car. I still don't know."

When a group of neighbors learned about the situation, they jumped in and tried to help by taking up a collection to pay to get the car back, all while believing the city had no right to tow it in the first place.

Several of them also accuse 24th Ward Ald. Sharon Dixon of having Yarborough's and the other cars towed as revenge for their support of her opponent in the election.

"I do know that I rallied the block and the neighborhood and the community to get a new alderman, one that would actually do some things for the community, and all of sudden, we have cars being towed," activist Sandra Rowe said.

Frank Watkins, a spokesperson for Alderman Dixon, released the statement, "The allegations are preposterous. Sharon has never operated that way and never will operate that way."

Twelve hours after discovering the car was gone -- and after waiting more than two hours at the pound lot-- Yarborough got his car back, with the wheelchair and walker still inside.

"I've been through tough things. If it wasn't for them [neighbors], I wouldn't be in this car now," he said.

A Department of Streets and Sanitation spokesperson tells ABC7 the vehicles were towed by police order. But police say they have no record of that.

They neighbors said they planned to work on getting the other cars back Saturday. They had to pay $160 to get Yarborough's car out, even though it was not ticketed. The residents plan to appeal that fine.