Monday, May 11, 2009

Public Safety Meeting Monday

Don't forget that there's a community meeting about public safety on Monday, May 11, 7pm at Truman College. And not a moment too soon, according to what we've been hearing in email this weekend:

- Saturday night: "I heard shots fired around 8:40 pm, possibly in the 4800 block of Winthrop. Called 911. Ugh."

- Sunday afternoon, just after 2pm: "6 shots fired, 900 Sunnyside, from a silver convertible. Gangbangers running west on Sunnyside chasing the car. Chevy is the make of the car, according to witnesses. 7 calls came into 911. The plate reported by witnesses for the Chevy came back on a Mercedes. Police said nobody was hit."

Folks, if you attend this meeting, don't be distracted by talk about how we just don't understand social services. About how this is about gentrification, or "newcomers" not understanding people who've been here for years. About "a class war on the poor" or a "police state."

The main public safety issue in this community is the gangs, the gangs, the gangs. We need to work on what we can do to avoid another summer like last one, where our main thoroughfares turned into shooting ranges over turf. When driving down Leland at 3 in the afternoon became a real risk. When parents were grabbing their kids out of strollers to keep them out of the line of gang gunfire.

Don't let this become about anything else. We know certain factions in the neighborhood like creating smoke and mirrors rather than have anyone address the real problems. Don't play into their hands, and don't be played.

As a friend who is very wise said: "Don’t fall for the bullshit that they will try to use to get the focus off crime and onto racism, accommodations, mental illness, etc. My advice is to just keep repeating the mantra that this problem is about crime. Period. It’s about crime. Period."

A lack of public safety affects us all. Keep the focus on making this a safe neighborhood.


  1. I think I will attend if time permits....I agree its about crime and thats the bottom line.........

  2. I don't think that you, the uptown resident would be very optimistic about crime reduction if you knew the truth. The district gang teams have been placed into a unit.Meaning that the 23rd district has up to 16 fewer officers for patrol everyday, as the officers are being sent on a regular basis to the 24th district and on occasion the 18th. The manpower of the police dept. is also at an all time low right now. Jody Weis may say 13,500 but trust me its under 10,000 with at least 500 a year retiring. City Halls solution was to put 50 cadets into the police academy, although now they're threatening to lay them off already due to money woes. Good luck folks.

  3. People from all economic backgrounds and all different ethnicities want a safer neighborhood. There may be a few extremists who will try to make it a class war, but good facilitation of the meeting will nip any of that.

    I'm going to that meeting with expectations that we're moving forward, but we're clearly not there yet.

  4. I think the idea of the meeting is good, but has anyone contemplated how most of us feel on a typical Monday evening? I consider it my "mental energy" lowpoint (Tuesdays are always much better). That said, I wonder is the "Mondaze" effect could make the public commentary at this meeting more negative than had it been scheduled on a Tuesday or even later in the week.

    I always avoid scheduling meetings on Mondays--at work or otherwise--unless absolutely necessary. Too much anxiety and negative energy lurking.

    That said, I will try to be there, be positive, and meet some of my new neighbors!

  5. I heard the "gunshots" on Saturday and walked out the door and smelled them....I thought they might be firecrackers...but the smell wasn't firecracker smell. IT was very strong...I thought maybe coming from the parking lot for the Aragon...

    I heard the gun shots that killed the Truman student last year.

    Previously 3 people were gunned down on Lawrence and winthrop...I heard those about 4 years ago.

    We have a bullet hole in the bannister from before we moved in that went through the says the previous owner showed me. Makes sense because the window is different from the other windows and I always wondered what the gouge in the bannister was from.

    What's so strange is so often there are gun shots or firecrackers and people don't react because, I guess they think it's firecrackers and sometimes it is. Sometimes it isn't.

  6. I have heard Officernotsofriendly's comment countless times. Officers are being detailed out of our area. It seems reasonable, then, that the police force we do have can only "react" to situations. There is less time to watch and to understand what happens in trouble spots so as to be proactive.

    Given this neighborhood's history, I think that everyone is looking for high quality police work. There just doesn't seem to be the manpower to do more than just "swoop" in when things have already boiled over.

    I'd like to hear how the public officials are going to do their part in helping increase the number of officers in Uptown and getting the cops their contract. There is only so much well meaning residents can do because the time horizon for some of the suggestions (like volunteering) is pretty long. Why put everyone through these series of meetings unless we are willing to get all of the issues on the table?

  7. stu piddy, i don't understand your post. why do you put quotation marks around "gunshots" in your comment?

    1) is it because you're questioning that they actually were gun shots? the report mentions that nine people heard gun fire and were proactive enough to call 911.

    2) gunshots do NOT sound like firecrackers. with all of your experience, you must know this also..

    3) did YOU call 911? just hearing them, and smelling them, isn't going to help anyone.

  8. The "gunshots" outside the Aragon on Saturday evening were absolutely firecrackers. There were maybe 12-15 booms in an extremely busy intersection and nobody ducked for cover or behaved strangely in any way. The last 7-8 were at regular intervals, spaced about 3 seconds apart. A squad car with officers parked in front of the bank did nothing.

  9. Somewhat related?

    On Saturday afternoon I was walking my dog (with son in stroller) down Kenmore between Lawrence and Ainsle around 5:30pm when 7-8 young men sprinted top speed from between two buildings running west across the street toward the elementary school. We picked up our pace and within a minute officers were also sprinting between the buildings and managed to snag at least one of the guys and arrest him on the sidewalk. Police suddenly swarmed everywhere. The whole incident seemed to culminate in that small playground on Winthrop... at least that's where the 15 or so officers were running.

    Things have been quite busy in our neighborhood lately folks.

  10. Michael, gunshots DO sound like firecrackers at times. I'm an avid shooter, have been shooting guns for about 35 years and I can assure you that many,many times what you THINK are gunshots ARE actually firecrackers. It depends on building density, caliber, wind direction and where your standing. I've stood in project buildings and watched people ignite fireworks that sounded like gunshots and other times I've observed gangsters fire guns and the sound resembled firecrackers. In other words, there are many things that can make a firecracker sound like a gunshot. And vice versa, sometimes gunshots sound like firecrakers.

  11. From 2:30 p.m. until about 3:10 today, I called 911 three times trying to get a police officer over to Sheridan and Lawrence (near Lakeside). There were about 40 gang members beating each other with golf clubs, swinging belts, hitting cars while running in and out of traffic. No cops came. Since that blue light was installed at Wilson & Sheridan, the area just north of there has gotten worse. We are planning on selling our place ASAP regardless of this market b/c it seems like it's getting worse.

  12. I was trying to get through this intersection around 3pm but traffic was at a standstill. No cars or busses could get through the Lawrence-Sheridan intersection because there were swarms of teenagers in the street, several with golf clubs.

    I called 911 and the cops responded right away, but perhaps that was related to earlier calls. It was truly a mob scene, with groups advancing and retreating. I didn't see belts flying but I did see several kids take swings with golf clubs. Terrifying.

    When I was able to get out of there, I also noticed a lot of police activity at the corner of Leland and Racine, in front of the Leland Hotel. I have no idea what was going on there, but I don't think it was related to the mob scene at Lawrence and Sheridan.

  13. Stu Piddy:
    Why would you always wonder what the gouge in the bannister was if the previous owner told you?

  14. I aw the same incident along Sheridan between Leland and Lawrence. at Least 40 kids with baseball bats, Golf clubs, and some were throwing bricks.

    I almost had to wonder where they got the golf clubs, they did not look like country club types.

    One or more of these kids most surely will be a future murder victim. At which point I will be forced to listen to an illiterate mother on TV talk about what an angel he was.
    Too bad I did not have a video camera to cature some of this to bring to tonights safety meeting.

  15. geez... please tell me that SOME arrests were made!

  16. PLEASE -- make sure this incident is brought up tonight at the public safety meeting! Aldermen and police captains will be there. THIS is the time to get answers.

  17. Just because no one asked me to, I figured I'd remind folks to be calm, cool, collected tonight.

    Anger displayed is an argument destroyed, y'all.

    Also - per UU, let's make sure to keep the discussion on public safety; not give in to smoke screens and double speak.

    The social services fair has NOTHING to do with anything, tonight.

    Also remember - this meeting is a sequel to a meeting held last summer when Helen Shiller failed to address the growing violent crime in her ward.

    Were she a responsible public official, there'd be no need for us to sacrifice the first part of the Blackhawks game.

  18. I am in the process of purchasing a condo in Uptown within steps of where commenter Christopher J saw the chase on Kenmore this past Saturday. I am well aware of the challenges confronting residents of the neighborhood, and I hope to join in the community's efforts to greatly reduce the criminal activity in Uptown. I am thankful for websites like this, for people like the people who post positive comments, and for everyone's continued vigilance.

    I check the blog daily, and merely wish to comment that, while I always look forward to reading positive comments about reporting incidents and updates of high-crime areas, it never ceases to amaze me to read the occasional negative comment. I trust that EVERYONE on this blog wants to reduce crime and increase safety in our community. 100% of these comments should be directed at improvements and progress! For those who only wish to knock down the comments of others or disparage without real suggestions for change, please stop wasting everyone's time.

  19. Joel, where are you moving to?

    UU is all about constructive debate, when confronted with the facts.
    It's not always about bleary-eyed hopes for the future, and that often means positive debate, versus common agreement.

    I've been here for roughly 17 years, on one of arguably the nicest streets (Malden). And it's been a roller-coaster of ups and downs. Seriously? It seems worse now than when I moved here.

  20. I was unable to attend the meeting last night b/c of work. Was yesterday's gang activity on Sheridan & Lawrence brought up at the meeting?

  21. My prospective home is on Kenmore near the currently unused school (4800 N. block). I looked extensively throughout the Uptown neighborhood, including numerous homes on Malden, Magnolia, Kenmore, Gunnison, Lakeside, Montrose, Wilson...these are all streets that I read stories about criminal activity taking place.

    Starck Mad, I can only imagine your frustration after 17 years, only to see public safety near its worst. It goes without saying that this is not the direction in which the neighborhood should be going.

  22. The activity at Sheridan and Lawrence was briefly brought up by audience members. The information was too new to the panelists and Commander Boehmer and Commander Moy had as much details as Uptown Update readers.

    Bring it up at your next CAPS meeting.

  23. Oh, one other thing that happened last night that sounded interesting was listening to Jay Bomberg represent the Chamber. Jay said the Chamber is going to subsidize security cameras for members.

  24. Joel -- Welcome to the neighborhood :) I look forward to working with you for a better Uptown!

  25. is there a way that I can sign up to get updates on when these meetings are?? I just got an update today - the 18th that there was a meeting on the 11th... I would have liked to have attended this meeting. Thanks for the help.

  26. cwagener:

    Probably the best way to get the latest info is to become a member of your block club. Most block clubs have an email distribution list. Also, check UU often. There is the upcoming events section on the right hand of the blog and usually there is a headliner post when a large community gathering is about to take place. We are really, really fortunate in that the UU crew is willing to spend so much time constantly updating the blog!!

    Just in case these options are not enough, you could email Heather Steans, Harry Osterman, Greg Harris, Uptown Chicago Commission and Mary Ann Smith (48th ward) to be put in their distribution lists as well. Sometimes Alderman Shiller sends out emails and updates her webpage but she doesn't seem to be as active as the others. If you do most (or all) of these things you'll really be "in the know" about Uptown events.

    I'm sure I am forgetting someone. No offense intended.