Monday, November 2, 2009

Another "Shots Fired" Afternoon In Uptown

A reader writes in:
"I was raking leaves in the front yard when I heard the shots. I'm not sure if there was one or two but it was definitely gunfire in the 4700 block of Sheridan around 3:40 this afternoon. The police responded in force and were last sighted headed towards Uplift School. That's all the info I have."


  1. any update? this is getting un-live-able.

  2. It has come to the point now where every day at work between 3:30 and 6:00 I sign on to Uptown Update and look to see if it is safe to come home from downtown on the Red Line. This uncontrolled violence has become so predictable that I would be surprised to see that shots had NOT been fired in the warzone.

    I am starting to think that the time for positive loitering is 3:30 to 6:00 daily. Unfortunately, many (but not all) of the people most likely to participate are off at work doing something productive while chaos is errupting back at home!

  3. Correlates almost too perfectly with kids getting out of school...

  4. Stash, I feel your pain. I've probably gained 5 pounds this summer simply because I don't feel safe walking from my partner's place at Sheridan and Winona, to my place at Montrose and Malden. Pathetic.

    I thought broad daylight was safe, but I think a sub zero January day is probably safer.

  5. Cmon, I'm sure the Cops were running to Uplift to hand out college acceptance letters. I mean, since everyone at Uplift goes to college, there must be quite the stack.

  6. Since last spring, I've noticed the "white t-shirt guys" hanging out on the 4700 block of Kenmore...presumably before or after whatever they do around the corner at Sheridan and Leland or Lawrence. It is definitely the worst I've seen in over the past 12 years.

  7. Question:

    Is there any correlation between the rise in gang activity on Sheridan and Leland and the posting of the police camera on Sheridan and Lawrence?

    Note how the Sheridan/Lawrence corner has been remarkably quiet since.

    Question II: if we were to put a police camera on Sheridan/Leland, would gang activity move to the west, or to the east (since there's also a camera on Wilson)?

    Question III: Is it possible to "corral" gang activity into a certain area via the strategic placement of police cameras.

  8. Question IV: (in response to Yo's questions)

    After the gang bangers are corralled. Can we ensure they all have guns so they can take each other out til non are standing?

    They're worthless.

  9. There are cameras at Sheridan and Lawrence, and Sheridan and Leland is just out of range...
    They can escape to any of the side streets, or directly east on Leland...through Uplift/Arai the lakefront and they're gone!...BTW...I was walking past S&L Pantry and heard a group of them talking about Uptown they know we monitor them...

  10. I believe there is a limit to how many cameras can be installed in a give area. That said I dunno we can corral the 'bangers with the limited amount of cameras we're 'allowed'.

  11. I was walking past S&L Pantry and heard a group of them talking about Uptown they know we monitor them...

    Instead of reading Update Update, maybe they'd be better served checking out this site on occasion.

  12. Yo, I understand we're seeing a rise in gang activity throughout the City this past year. If anything, the cameras are pushing gangs from retail areas with cameras to residential areas with no cameras. However, the viral video we had last August hints that residents may be more proactive with addressing crime, so the push of gang activity 1 block south may help more to curb gang activity.

    As a City, we need to study the variables that have contributed to this change many of us are seeing.

    Is it due to high school students crossing unchartered gang territories to get to class?
    Is it due to fewer police on the beats?
    Is it due to the current state of the economy?
    Is it due to a change in drug trafficking?
    Is this also happening in other similar cities?

    We need those answers to help give more direction. By the way, I would encourage anyone interested in public school education to attend a screening of "Principal Story" at No Exit Cafe from 7-9 pm tonight. The address is 6970 N Glenwood.


    Pretty soon we won't even be able to get a pizza delivered around here.

  14. I realize that some readers may see little connection with "Principal Study" and gang activity, but I believe the struggles happening in CPS gives some insight about what we are witnessing on the streets of Uptown.

    As many other issues we see, there's no one reason for the cause and there's no one solution to address it. I think tonight's screening of Principal Story will be enlightening.

  15. If anything, the cameras are pushing gangs from retail areas with cameras to residential areas with no cameras.

    If this is truly the case, are the cameras actually a positive thing?

    To that point:

    However, the viral video we had last August hints that residents may be more proactive with addressing crime, so the push of gang activity 1 block south may help more to curb gang activity.

    Not to be (too much of) a contrarian, here ..., but I'm not sure if pushing gang activity into the residential areas is such an awesome outcome.

    At 10p, there are much fewer people (generally speaking) in a retail corridor than there are (generally speaking) in a residential corridor.

    And, as we've witnessed after the August video, gang activity didn't subside much. In fact, it escalated.

    Per your questions, we don't need the answer(s) since we already know that the response to each is "Yes".

    Per your call for direction, we don't need that, either.

    What we need is a collective strength of purpose along with a collective willingness to recognize and face up to some harsh realities, across all societal spectrums, in order to allow us to focus on making real progress.

  16. Mr.Cappleman. At this point we are beyond trying to figure out the root of the problem. We all know the Aldermsn is not going to do anything and the police are powerless.
    What i propose is a citizens surveillance system. They are lots of them around they are affordable and easy to install. I came across one that came with 8 wireless cameras no less. If everyone from UU gave $20 we can probably cover the whole area lol.I doubt that anyone that knows that they are been recorder would risk driving here to buy drugs. There are a lot of people at home at all hours that can monitor such systems. I know all the objections already but would you want to risk a bullet?

  17. What really blows my mind and if anyone can inform me on this. Those flashing blue things at Lawrence and Sheridan and again at Wilson and Sheridan. What are they actually. If they are indeed cameras, the police department must have hours and hours and hours and hours of evidence, pictures and video of drug deals.

    EVERYTIME I drive by those corners, the flashing blue lights seem to signal "Get your crack HERE ->" Obviously they are not hooked up because the police would know what is happening instead of driving by and intentionally looking in the opposite direction from where the dealers and crack addicts at camping out by S & L.

  18. If gangs are being pushed to more residential areas, I don't like it either. It is, however, our reality. I’m not clear if the gang activity in that area has escalated more in the past couple of months or is it that residents see it more because it’s moved one block south. I live a block from that area and it has been fairly rough there for many years now. I believe I see an increase, but I can’t say it’s because of the placement of any cameras.

    Whatever the case, the problems we are witnessing have many root causes. That collective strength of purpose starts by having us work in our block clubs, organizations like UCC, CAPS, Clean & Green days, and local school councils. It also means we call our elected leaders to task to work with us to forge solutions.

    Believe me, I know it takes work. Since February, I’ve taken one vacation day and I spent it in City Hall protesting the increase in WY TIF money. Next week I’m taking another vacation day… again, attending a task force to address a public safety issue. It takes hard work and lots of action to make a community better. I’m glad to see so many people jumping in to do the same.

  19. jms,

    the issue with the effectiveness of the cameras is not due to their operational status.

    The cameras work. They're turned on and they are streaming video.

  20. It also means we call our elected leaders to task to work with us to forge solutions.

    ... and work to replace them when they don't.

  21. May I suggest yet another way of working to make an area better -- pressuring landlords to evict problem tenants?

    It's long and difficult. But it's worth it.

    Work with Woodlawn if it's in one of their buildings. Work with whoever the landlord or building manager is if there's trouble. If there's criminal activity happening in a building, report, report, report.

    It makes an incredible difference in an area. Years ago, on my block, there was ONE family in the scattered site housing that was dealing drugs and involved with gangs. We had gang members in freaking LazyBoy rockers stationed in front of the housing on the sidewalk! That escalated into them selling the drugs at one corner of the block, and pickup occurring at the other end of the block.

    The neighbors - not me - got busy working with HRC, who managed the housing at that time, and they eventually evicted that family. I felt bad for the kids who lived there (it sucks to have parents who choose the gangstah life over their kids' well-being), but as a neighbor pointed out, there are good deserving law-abiding families who need that housing. A family like that moved in, and we haven't had very many problems on our street - certainly not the drug dealing and gang presence that we did when that one family lived there.

  22. James,

    Sorry, but your reponse is EXACTLY what prevents me from rooting for you. It truly is a horrible answer. As one that lives in the area too, there is an increase in crime, period. We really do not need another study James. We need leadership. And we need an Alderman who understands this, not one looking for excuses..., with your last milquetoast response. I am now officially looking for a NEW aldermanic with some cajones ,not excuses...

  23. EOU,

    It's spelled C O J O N E S. I have three and I know these things.

    I'm also known as El Diablo Tres Cojones south of the border.

    As for other aldermanic candidates besides the Capplemaniac pick and choose. They seem to be coming outta the woodwork.

    Of course I might suggest you knew that already.

    In any case whether you like it or not the Capplemaniac is likely to be the leading contender to replace Shiller. He's working very hard and it strikes me as unlikely that another candidate would outpoll him.

    The type of George Pattonesque rhetoric you might like will not go over well in this ward.

  24. IP(twice a day at least)

    Remember, 18 months ago, Hillary was the slam dunk candidate for the Democrats...aint Democracy the darndest thing.. it actually lets folks decide for themselves vs. being told who will be a candidate and that I will vote for them...

    ..Cappleman is, IMHO, just another excuse driven candidate at this point. I honestly do not see much difference between him and Shiller. AND I truly do mean that... aside from he will attend meetings.. and what good does that do if it just goes into study groups and platitudes...

    Cappleman will never get Shillers voters.. but there are undoubtedly other alternatives out there that can get Capplemans votes and I am looking forward to seeing what alternatives are out there...

    God Bless America and Democracy and Freedom of Speech!

  25. Cameras are only good if someone is watching. Which no one is. The only murder this year happened under the camera at Lawrence and Sheridan and it was no help. The cameras only move crime not deter it.

    Also another thing the gang-bangers know is the 3pm and 4 pm are shift changes for the beat cars so there are fewer police out from 3-4:30pm.

  26. James,

    This is a perfect time for you to tell us what you would do as aldermen to fix this situation.

    What are your solutions?

    I would hope you would have a game plan at the ready if you were to win.

  27. EOU,

    There is democracy and freedom of speech. You can vote for whoever you choose and criticize whoever you want.

    I don't always agree with the Capplemaniac. Hell, depending on which one of my multiple personalities has dominance in a given moment I may not even agree with myself.

    You likely will have plenty of Shiller alternatives to choose from. How well they do is the real question.

    Given your rhetoric and writing style is there a "tea party" somewhere around here you can join in on? Perhaps you can toss some tea bags into Montrose Harbor to symbolize something.

    I don't really know much.

    I'm just a modest guy with tres cojones.

    Actually, I'm not that modest.

  28. I'm just a modest guy with tres cojones.

    You sure it's not just a growth?

    I ask, cuz I care.

    I really do.

  29. Yo,

    I just had my annual examination at the Veterinarian and she said everything was fine.

    She even gave me a dog biscuit afterward and I wagged my tail.

  30. My guess is that very soon a new aldermanic candidate will make her appearance. One that Helen knows can and will defeat her.

    Adios Helen. Thanks for the time served. You too Denise.

  31. Yo,

    Dat's some funny stuff.

    Personally, I like the sizing chart.

  32. You likely will have plenty of Shiller alternatives to choose from. How well they do is the real question.

    Over the last couple of elections, there seems to be some sort of "community group" that gets together and tries to select a single challenger for the incumbent Aldercreature.

    I've heard that there is another one of these groups being put together.

    The electoral theory is that Helen will get 50% + 1 and if there are multiple challengers, they will split the remaining votes, or Helen would win in a run-off.

    Has anyone considered that several candidates might actually be a GOOD thing? Here are my thoughts:

    1. Generating as much debate and communication about 46th ward issues only highlights the shortcomings of the Aldercreature. It'll be a 24 x 7 drumbeat of what's wrong in the ward, and there would be various opinions about solutions. That's good. What are challengers going to do? Agree with her? No. They try to take her on. You'll have an entire chorus of what's wrong with the ward.

    2. With all the discussion being generated and people talking about issues, it will force Helen to defend her policies. That ain't a pretty position for her to be in. Some (all? many?) of her positions and actions (inactions?) are indefensible, and for the ones where she attempts to defend herself, she will only end up sticking her foot in her mouth or rambling nonsensically. Helen has a long enough history of flip flopping, and being truth-challenged that no matter what she says, there is past evidence that disproves whatever her claims are. Again, bad for Helen, good for challengers.

    3. It's easy for Helen to try to label just one of her political opponents as a racist, member of the Klan, a gentrifier, or a liar. When she has many challengers and tries to apply those tactics to all of them, she'll look like Glenn Beck, who thinks Rockefeller Center in New York was constructed by Communists as part of their attempt take over America (not kidding - he really says this stuff). In other words, she'll look like a paranoid idiot.

    4. I think it would be nice to have a candidate from the Lakeview portion of the ward who can siphon off votes from the Aldercreature and force a run-off. I'm not saying there should be a stalking horse, but the thought has crossed my mind once or twice.

    You really put Helen in a bind if you've got her defending herself on all sides.

    What does everyone else think? This is all just my 2 cents.

  33. Ok,

    Eye in da Sky thinks a female alternative to Shiller is about to appear.

    I'll add her to my list.

    Let's see,

    1. Da Capplemaniac

    2. Da Gay Alan Keyes supporter known as Gerald Farinas.

    3. Da Cop known as a Peace Corp Alumni, otherwise known as Mike Carroll.

    4. Female known only to Eye in Da Sky

    5. Former 19th Warder known only to me or at least my imagination

    6. Me




    I'm leaving some spots open for the other contenders.

    I'm relatively sure of only two things.

    1. Unless this is the alternative bizarro 46th Ward young Mr Farinas has no chance.

    2. Cappleman is clearly the main contenda to unseat Shiller.

    3. Didn't I say two things?
    Anyway, Mike Carroll has an interesting resume and might make a good altercritter. However, while the cop thang appeals to me, it is unappealing to a significant portion of the population. Dat's just the unfortunate fact.

    4. Dammit, you said only two things. There are other serious potential candidates out there, but until they create a website or formally announce I won't mention there names.

    5. I've reconsidered and despite being asked by thousands of people and the Pope I will not be a candidate. I'm running for Mayor.

  34. The fact that some of these things occur between 3 and 6 or, as Meg points out, "correlates" with kids getting out of school is not really surprising or an original observation--I think it's been pointed out by people who work with youth that this is generally a high risk time for kids and violence. What I am somewhat surprised (pleasantly) to see here is Mr. Cappleman raise the point that crime is rising around the city, and that solutions may be found by examining this from a citywide perspective (and maybe even looking nationally) to see what factors may be causing this increase. So often I hear posters say, we only care about Uptown, we don't want to hear about what's happening elsewhere--but when other communities may be experiencing similar violence increases, such an approach seems very short-sighted. Far from Cappleman's suggestions on looking at the root causes (and looking beyond Uptown to gain some insight) being milquetoast, I think it is probably the best way to avoid any future Alderman from being set up for failure and disappointment--because I don't believe the solution to what's happening here is quite as simple as some suggest, i.e., get rid of SHiller. That may certainly cause some of you to feel better about communication issues, but I'm not so sure that'll reverse the increase in gun violence and gang activity that we--and other Chicago communities--are witnessesing as of late.

    ALso, I think in general, someone engaged in criminal activity on property should be in violation of their lease. However, as we saw with the young man who was shot on Sheridan the prior summer, he had to leave his apartment building because of his activity (with his family remaining). While that MAY have made the building safer, it did not prevent violence in our community, as clearly he still lived and hung out here in the community. So evicting people may work to some extent, but for many it just puts a family member out (typically a young person), making them that much more likely to rely on gang "family." I'm not opposed to evicting a true "criminal" family so to speak--just saying even eviction can only go so far in terms of making the community overall safer.

  35. The election is 15 months away and I trust that there will be plenty of time for people to make their decisions about the best candidate. I’ve learned to be very measured about what I say on a blog for a couple of reasons, but mainly because I’ve found what I state is often taken out of context. Some of those verbal attacks come from people already supportive of someone else so anything I say will be attacked. That comes with the territory for running for public office.

    A candidate using a forum such as UU is still rather unexplored territory. I believe UU is its own entity and it needs to stay that way and not be saddled with supporting any candidate, me included. Other candidates should feel free to blog here as well. Perhaps UU can explore how to do this at some point.

    As for public safety, I believe in the need to address this issue on many different levels. It’s what I’ve been doing for the past 10 years in Uptown. My list is long, but I’ll keep the focus on gang activity. Those ideas include….

    • Working with the schools to get programs in place that foster a relationship between youth and the police
    • Hiring more police and getting their contract negotiated once and for all
    • Creating incentives for businesses to create jobs for those with low skills and/or a history of incarceration
    • Addressing the gross underreporting of domestic violence, which is a major variable for children who resort to violence with their peers
    • Working with the schools to create peer mentorship programs that foster healthier interactions with one another
    • Working with residential buildings with reports of high gang activity to develop strategies with the residents to make their buildings safe
    • Working with CAPS to identify their 5-point safety plan and documenting it so that it’s made public
    • Making drug rehab more readily available
    • Working with state legislators to get the prison system more focused on rehabilitation and creating incentives for prisoners to get their education
    • Working with the businesses and residential buildings to share best practices in the use of cameras
    • Working with the community to develop a plan about how to best use more cameras in public areas
    • Working with the social services to ensure they are using evidence-based practices to discourage gang activity
    • Creating stronger incentives to build more affordable housing in areas with lower rates of poverty
    • Requiring stricter design standards for affordable housing that can deter crime

    There are many other ideas out there. I believe the best answers come from the community. I believe in a strong participatory approach to governance with high standards of ethics and transparency.

  36. James C, you continue to be an oasis of common sense and reason.
    What's alarmingly clear, is that the 46th Ward is a ship without a rudder. Any and all help is appreciated.

  37. I like the fact that James Cappleman cares so much.

    It seems his motivation is to serve his community and make the world a better place.

    A lot of Alderman candidates run for other reasons.

    Yes I times I wish Cappleman would have fought harder but I have come realize that is exactly what we don't need and that divides the community even more.

    Living in Chicago for 10 years it's amazing to me people are so fickle about voting a new candidate in even if they aren't the best. Heck you can vote them out in 4 years. Instead in Chicago they keep voting for the same Chicago Machine crooks because they are so afraid of the unknown. Instead they keep voting for the same candidates election after election to only bitch about how bad they are.

  38. Mr. Cappleman, your list sounds good. A few picky points.

    Re this:

    • Working with the schools to get programs in place that foster a relationship between youth and the police--

    I'm sure you know historically people of color--in particular black people--have had, some would say, well-founded reasons to distrust police. Hopefully, as one seeking to become alderman of a diverse community where some people have real and founded reasons to have ambivalent feelings toward the police, you will also work to encourage the police to be more proactive in responding to those concerns. In other words, the onus should not be entirely on the schools to build these relationships--police must also be willing to address and deal appropriately with officers who cause a fracture in the public trust and relationships between police and the community. I know posters here brush such concerns off as being anti-police, but it is not, as such feelings left unaddressed get in the way of community and police being cooperative partners.

    Re this: Working with state legislators to get the prison system more focused on rehabilitation and creating incentives for prisoners to get their education

    I think this is good in theory, but not sure how realistic it is to expect prison to ever be anything other than punishment and retribution. I personally think it would be better to focus on alternatives to incarceration, which may prove to be more effective in reducing recidivism and more cost effective.

    • Working with the schools to create peer mentorship programs that foster healthier interactions with one another.

    I think there are local schools and service agencies that already engage in this sort of thing. I would like to see some indication that you, as a future leader, have reached out to these various institutions/organizations and have spoken to them about what they are doing and what their particular challenges are.

    Re this:

    • Working with the social services to ensure they are using evidence-based practices to discourage gang activity

    Are there agencies in particular that you are referring to? Of course, all such agencies aren't geared toward stopping gang activity, though the youth organizations of which I am aware in Uptown work with youth to provide tutoring, counseling, art, peer mediation,etc., --a variety of methods to inject positive influences and grounding into the lives of kids they come into contact with. I'm certain in this way they work hard to discourage gang and any other detrimental activity. Is there some particular practice of which you are aware that these agencies should be using?

  39. Hi Uptown Writer,

    Regarding improving the relationship of the police with youth:
    The 23rd Police District has an Explorers Program that has the police doing activities with youth in order to break down the barriers that exist. Uplift is not currently involved with this program. My belief is that when both get the opportunity to rub elbows, both change.

    Every Uplift student must do community service… wouldn’t it be wonderful to have the students work with the police in their annual toy distribution program? When two groups get together to do an act of kindness, it changes perceptions.

    Regarding prisons
    Prisons must become more focused on rehabilitation. The State of Illinois is in the early stages (finally) of making this happen, but more needs to be done; otherwise, people leave prisons as more highly trained career criminals. I’m fine with alternatives to prison as long as there is evidence that this approach is shown to be effective. If it also saves money, even better.

    Regarding my work with other youth organizations:
    I used to be a teacher, so this is close to my heart. About a month ago, I was asked by Sen. Heather Steans to be on a task force with other community leaders to explore what could be done to address gang violence. The idea of peer mentoring came up. However, it was from reading a book that discussed the role of peers influencing other peers to join gangs that first captured my attention. My training in social work also validates this. Last summer, I went to a series of task force meetings led by the executive director of Alternatives. Our purpose was to find ways of communicating the different activities available to the youth during the summer. I strongly support their mission of helping youth.

    Regarding social services and gang violence:
    There was a peace rally led by a social service for a local school that had a graff wall, taught kids what not to say to the police when they are questioned, and invited them to join the Communist Party. Does that approach with youth work to discourage them from gang activity? My hunch is no, but that is my opinion and who is to say whether or not my opinion is correct. That’s why I believe such interventions that get government dollars must objectively demonstrate their effectiveness.

    There is discussion about funding Cease Fire again and thoughts about whether or not this would be a good idea are all over the map. The Chicago Justice Project has been very critical of research that substantiates Cease Fire, but I remain open to hearing evidence from other sources. I don’t want to hear anecdotal information about how well it works… I want to hear clear and objective evidence about its effectiveness.

    Every dollar we spend on any intervention that is not evidence-based is a dollar taken away from another intervention that does work. I want to ensure every dollar is spent wisely.