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Police Visit Convent 12 Hours After Recovery Housing Files Lawsuit Against City

Contact: Tom Ciesielka, TC Public Relations, 312-422-1333, tc@tcpr.net

BLUE ISLAND, Ill., June 1, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- No more than 12 hours had passed since Affordable Recovery Housing ("ARH") filed suit yesterday in the United States District Court against the City of Blue Island and Fire Chief Terry Vrshek, when a group of police visited the convent/boarding house at 12:50AM under the pretext of looking for a person with an outstanding warrant and wanted to search the building. 

When police appeared at the convent, the CEO of ARH, John Dunleavy asked them for an arrest warrant, the police could only show an old one from another state.  The police wanted to search the building and when Mr. Dunleavy asked for a search warrant, the police could not produce one and stated that they could “"o what they want or take one of [them] to jail." When the Executive Director asked for badge numbers, only one agreed to give his. An officer called a man on the phone named "Farr" and stated, "They are not cooperating, why should we?" Another police officer stated, "Don't worry we will not have to deal with these people after tomorrow."

After the police could not produce a valid arrest or search warrant, the midnight search turned into a vehicle registration raid as multiple tickets were placed on cars in the convent's parking lot for assorted violations. John Dunleavy watched the actions of the police and photographed the ticketing of cars. During these actions, an officer yelled at him, "Keep taking pictures of the police, [and] you will get a felony [expletive]."

"Did the police think that raiding our home would give them some sort of information to use in the law suit? It seems fishy to me that after nine months of us doing good for the community here, the last two weeks have been one government contrived emergency action after the other." Said Mary Jo Dunleavy, the Executive Director of ARH.

"It seems like the city doesn't want us here. They don't want us to be a part of a community. They ignore our requests to move forward in licenses and appeals." Said John Dunleavy.

After the police visit during the middle of the night, a court hearing took place today with the Honorable Robert M. Dow Jr. The City of Blue Island was ordered to detail the legal basis for the assertion of city code violations and to put on the agenda of the City Council ARH's appeal of an order to vacate the convent, which had been ignored up to this point. ARH was told to continue taking steps toward obtaining pertinent license(s) and permit(s). 

ARH's attorney, John Mauck, summarized the outcome of the court hearing today. "The judge is allowing for due process before any danger is done to the residents by putting them on the street."

Only one week ago, Fire Chief Terry Vrshek gave a "cease and desist" order to the non-profit which aims to assist veterans and non-violent ex-offenders.  If ARH could not plan and install a sprinkler system for the entire residence by 9:00 a.m., June 1, 2012 all their members but 14 would be kicked out onto the street. ARH is suing for threatening an illegal eviction and giving limited time to appeal to the City Council.

In response to last night's police visit, Mary Jo Dunleavy expressed frustration over the City's actions toward her fruitful non-profit. "I feel bullied and threatened. Isn't the government's response to our defense of our rights in court, more typical of North Korea than of America?"

ARH is sharing occupancy with five nuns at the Sisters of Sorrow Convent on Western Avenue and houses 73 men committed to living a changed life without alcohol. This non-profit recovery program has been recognized by the Cook County Board of Commissions for an outstanding program of supporting veterans and non-violent ex-offenders in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. In fact, Mayor Peloquin praised it effusively in 2011.

A copy of the complaint from May 31st is HERE. For additional supporting documents or to schedule an interview, please contact Tom Ciesielka at 312-422-1333 or at tc@tcpr.net.