Friday, June 6, 2008

Inside: "Student Slaying Sparks Anti-Crime Rally"

Student slaying sparks anti-crime rally

By Hayley Carston, Special to Inside

On June 7, Uptown activists will remember slain Truman College student Francis Oduro, Jr. with an anti-crime rally in front of Ald. Helen Shiller’s office, 4544 N. Broadway. Oduro was shot on May 21 at 9:15 p.m. as he was walking to the Wilson Red Line station after stopping at Truman to inquire about summer classes.

He was shot twice about 9:15 p.m. and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to news reports.

Police have yet to make an arrest in the slaying of the 22-year-old Ghana native. Police consider him to be an innocent bystander in what they are calling a gang shooting. A second man was also shot, but survived. “It’s still an active and open investigation,” said Officer John Maribelli, of Chicago Police News Affairs.

Oduro arrived in the United States to join his father, who is also named Francis Oduro, in Chicago. He was a South Side resident, but worked in an Uptown grocery store in addition to taking classes at Truman.

“It’s seasonal,” said Pam Merema, an activist involved in Uptown. Merema says that the area where Oduro was slain is a crime hot spot and when the weather gets warmer, the crime gets worse. “I think that police are content to push it (the criminal element) into that area, because it keeps it out of 90% of the district and that keeps 90% who live in the district happy.”

Additionally, Merema says that the Wilson TIF has made things worse by adding more dead-end streets to the area, which in turn makes the area more dangerous. The activists refers to a 1999 paper written by Loyola University professor Richard Block that ranks dead end streets as one of the reason why there is crime in the area.

The article states that Wilson and Broadway is a robbery “hot spot” and is ranked fifth worst of 21,000 Chicago census tracts for street robberies. The article cites such factors as a seedy appearance to the area, an ATM in the El station, dead end streets and alleys giving robbers a place to hide and the fact that the area attracts a large amount of people.

This is not the first time this academic year that a Truman College student was slain. In November, Issac Pink, 18, was slain on the South Side. A suspect was arrested in that case.

Lynn M. Walker, Interim President of Truman College issued a statement. “We at Truman College are shocked and saddened by the death of Francis Oduro. He was a good student and a wonderful young man and he will be sorely missed by his teachers and his fellow students.” There was a memorial to Oduro on the Truman College website.

According to a flier for the rally, there has been an increase in shootings and other violent crime in Uptown. For more information about the rally visit Shiller’s office did not respond to a request for comments about the rally.

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