Thursday, August 7, 2008

News-Star Editorial: "The Time To Act Is Now"

Uptown at a crossroads
Last week, an historic number of Uptown residents turned out for a town hall meeting to discuss crime and quality of life issues. Recently declared the city's most ethnically diverse neighborhood, the 400 residents who attended the meeting represented a refreshing cross section of neighbors that cut across racial and economic lines.

The town hall meeting was organized in less than a week's time by the 7th District state senator and the 13th District state representative in response to residents worried about recent shootings an upturn in crime. Other panelists included the 23rd District Commander, her Gang Tactical Officer, the Deputy Chief of Patrol for Area 3, and the Deputy Superintendent of Patrol, Citywide. Each panelist was forthcoming in providing authoritative answers to residents' questions about gang activity in the neighborhood, doing much to dispel rumors.

Each of the 40 residents who made comments before the panel spoke eloquently of the issues affecting the quality of neighborhood life. There were no personal attacks. And there was none of the divisiveness that has polarized Uptown residents in the past. Neighbors and community organizations that have been working to solve issues such as homelessness, economic development and crime were able to emerge from isolation and share their successes and failures with each other.

This was a historic coming together of a neighborhood that has often been portrayed - usually by casual observers - as an ongoing feud between the haves and have-nots. Those familiar with Uptown know that this is not the case.

We hope that elected and law enforcement officials will continue to work toward improving the quality of life issues that have held Uptown back in the past. Residents sent a clear message that they will no longer tolerate public drinking, drug abuse, gang violence and disorder on their streets.

Let's also hope that this isn't the end of the conversation. Change doesn't happen overnight, and residents need to empower themselves and one another to tackle crime and pervasive social issues.

The opportunity to unite as a community may not happen again if we drop the ball now. From the mood and spirit at last week's town hall meeting, that doesn't seem likely to be the case.


  1. I am so excited that I get to be the first to say BRAVO (to one and all).

  2. A half dozen calls for shots fired are coming in from the Argyle and Kenmore area. Sounds like chaos over the scanner. Anywhere from a couple to six shots fired.

    Five male blacks (three with guns) chasing someone south, down Sheridan Road. One witness said a silver SUV may be involved and headed east.

    4952 North Sheridan allegedly has a bullet through the window.

  3. Sounds like no one got hit - so no report will be taken for this shots fired call. Unless, of course, the resident who owns the window wants to press charges.

    No harm, no foul, right?

  4. I hope everyone concerned enough to show up takes the time to educate themselves on the WilsonYard Project.......go to

  5. 1) Go to your CAPS meetings
    2) Call 911 when you see suspicious activity
    3) Know your neighbors
    4) Recruit a neighbor

    Reach ahead with one hand and behind you with the other. This can only work if you step forward and bring another person with you.

  6. There was a lot of activity last night. I was walking my dog and saw cops cars everywhere. I also saw a lot of kids wearing the "gang uniform". They added a nice black bandana around their neck, likes the cowboys, possibly to cover their faces. I'm thinking they were definitely looking to start some sh*t in retaliation from the other days shootings.

  7. sure enough, 1 am Friday, shots fired around Kenmore/Sheridan. Lovely.

  8. Top ten Neighborhoods (Crime)

    Englewood 1,395
    South Austin 1,187
    Lawndale 914
    South Shore 856
    Gresham 814
    West Englewood 682
    Logan Square 671
    South Chicago 643
    Back of the Yards 545
    Little Village 536

    Stop complaining all the time!! Be appreciative that you are able to walk your dogs without getting shot!

    HOw many of you have lost loved ones to gang violence and that loved one was an innocent by stander?

    How many of you personally know someone of that same situation?

    Well I know plenty and guess what? None that I knew were killed in Uptown.

    I'm not saying that it can't happen but any situation can be better and every situation could be worse!!!

    Take time to be grateful for your lives!!

  9. Sorry


  10. dacutestmama, says we should 'stop complaining!'

    well.....sorry, but that is BS.

    Why should we not complain / attempt to better the situation? This almost seems like a Shiller plant, comment, like the one heard at the Truman Safety meeting.

    Why not reach for the stars? Why not strive for a community, that is free of gang warfare/taggers/drunk vagrants, etc.?

    We should not have to 'settle'

  11. Sorry but I'm anti-Shiller! And complaining on UU doesn't resolve any violence if you didn't know!

  12. Within a week of Helen saying "she's listening", she missed the National Night Out, the Block Club Forum where she was a featured speaker, and she made no comment about the person shot at Lawrence and Kenmore. In my book, that's not listening. That's still tuning the community out.

  13. Since 'dacutestmama' has all the answers, where exactly should I voice my complaints? Or should I simply ignore the situation until Uptown escalates into a top ten neighboorhood, and deal with it then? Just because it isn't the worst neighboorhood in Chicago is no reason to accept it as a poor one. Disorder expands proportionally with the tolerance for it.

    Maybe we should continue to attend CAPS meetings, support block clubs, rally around this blog (where I learned about the meeting at Truman, and found out what beat I'm in) Just a thought.

  14. What I continue to hear from many residents is that there are hot spots to crime. Assessing the rate of crime by a police district or even a beat doesn't give a clear understanding of the problem. It's when the problem is broken down by census tracts that a clearer picture emerges. I like Clear Map because it enables me to break down different types of crimes by census tracts, and that's where I can better locate the hot spots of crime that surface in the neighborhood.

    For example, there are 2 census tracts where people often cite problems with different types of crime:
    Census tract 031600: Lawrence to Montrose, Racine to Sheridan
    Census tract 031500: Lawrence to Montrose, Sheridan to Clarendon

    These 2 census tracts are well above the 90th percentile in crimes related to disorderly conduct and drug arrests. Census tract 031600 is also well above the 90th percentile when it comes to simple assaults and simple batteries.

    It's these types of crimes that have many people from all walks of life feeling unsafe and why we shouldn't be too surprised that well over 400 people showed up for a town hall meeting despite the week's notice given over the Internet.

    The Uptown Chicago Commission's website now has PDF files that are available to download that give some practical hands on suggestions with addressing crime. This handout was created based on feedback from a number of residents who stated there was a need for it.

  15. It's amazing how you can comment on something that I didn't exactly say but no one seemed to answer my questions.

  16. Perhaps no one answered your questions because they're not relevant. People complain about crime, and you tell them to be happy, because things are worse in Englewood.

    Then you brag about how many murder victims you know. Did you just want an shout-out that you are street?

    I don't need to be Fifty Cent to know that getting shot probably hurts.