Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Breaking Curfew At Clarendon Park?

A reader writes in from Clarendon Park:
"Several what appeared to be gang members gathered last night on the softball field bleachers at Clarendon Park around 11:00pm. They were being loud and appeared to be drinking, as well as bullying one person who was down there with them. They were getting up in his face and sounded like they were threatening him, or at least looked like it. There was definitely some intense conversation going on between the majority of them (who were in black) and the one they were shoving around (wearing a white t-shirt, and he was sort of staggering, leading me to believe he was intoxicated). This went on for half an hour, and the volume of their "conversation" increased over that half hour. My significant other wanted to take the dog out before bed time, but was reluctant to do so because the situation in the park below seemed to be increasingly volatile... like they were going to deliver a beat down on this guy in the white shirt (that, or a bullet). We were wondering, over this hour long period of time, where had ANY cops been? None had driven by, patrolling the area. If they had been, they would've shut down these park loiterers in a quickness. Just as I was about to pick up the phone and call the cops, a cop car rolled up and pulled over in front of the park on Clarendon Ave. Two blues walked over and shined their flashlight on the area, saying something along the lines of "What is this here, a congregation??" At this point, the loiterers started to walk briskly away from the bleachers across the park toward Marine Drive. The cops stayed in the area for about 10 minutes, which is when my significant other chose to take the dog out. As soon as he came back in, the cops got back in there car and drove away.

The thugs returned from behind the community center a short while later and they seemed to pick up where they left off. No cops came back to re-patrol the area, interestingly enough. I fell asleep at this point, and was re-awakened at 1:15am to here them still shouting at each other out there. This time, it was full on shouting and threats.

The reason I'm reporting this is because, it seems as though something is bubbling under the surface here, and I want other residents near Clarendon Park to be vigilant, especially during this time of year. Its getting warm out, and that seems to be prime time for gang wars and related incidents to be increasing.

Someone called the cops when they saw this loitering the other night (at least, I believe someone did, as the cops seemed to pin point this area as they drove by)... people need to continue to call the cops when they see stuff like this because, as far as I know, these parks are supposed to be closed at 10pm? Or 11? Either way, those guys shouldn't have been out there. This is another place that might need some positive loitering. Just a thought."


  1. My question to the author of this post is: why didn't you pick up the phone to call the cops earlier the first time? And, why didn't you call the cops after they returned and woke you up?

    You can't expect the cops to be everywhere all the time. If we want this ward to change, we all have to continue to call the police whenever we see something unlawful going on. We live in this ward and we have to help the police by being their eyes and ears. Even if it seems fruitless sometimes, keep calling. Don't wait for others to do it for you.

  2. From the last CAPS meeting, I learned "If having a police presence at that moment would make a difference, call 911."

    If you need to walk your dog and intoxicated people are hovering in your vicinity, sounds like a police presence WOULD make a difference. Call 911.

    I know its less than ideal, but call every night if you see this going on. You have a right to request city services, including police. If we happen to need it more than more communities, so be it. If everyone in your community made it part of the routine, it might help.

    Just be honest and know the difference between people enjoying the summer in a legal manner and a potential threat to the neighborhood and your safety (and it sounds like the poster does know the difference)

  3. I agree, if you seen all this going on and did nothing you are just as guilty! If you can take the time to write about what all happened then you should have found the time to contact the police during the time it was taking place... Take pictures, record what you see and never just sit there and watch some try to hurt someone else!!! We have to get back our community by helping others in need!!

  4. I agree with all of you who commented on my letter about these incidents. I was about to call, but I should have been doing so much earlier.

    This is no excuse, but to tell you the truth I guess I'm gun shy when it comes to calling 911.. but I now know I shouldn't be. I come from a small rural area where we were taught only to call 911 if it was a dire emergency -- now I see that this is only the case in a small community that doesn't have gang loitering and violence on a regular basis. In that respect, I'm changing my way of handling things.

    I don't have any excuse as to why I didn't call earlier, except that I was trying to observe the situation further to see if anything was looking dangerous. And it indeed was. I should have called about them loitering in the first place -- and I should have called again when I was woken up, yes.

    I will keep this in mind for the future.. as I'm sure this isn't the first time I'll witness illegal events unfold in Clarendon Park and the surrounding area. Thanks for your comments, everyone.

  5. How would you have felt if someone had been killed while you watched, knowing that it could have been prevented by calling 911 sooner?

    Would you have called 911 in the country if a loud gang of people were outside your window threatening someone?

  6. i call the cops all the damn time now. the other night a man was getting verbally/physically abusive on the corner of Wilson and Clarendon (guess which one!!) and i called the cops immediately. It could have been a misunderstanding, but they showed up and the situation was diffused.

  7. I was talking with Kathleen Boehmer (our precinct commander) last week and she REALLY encouraged us to call 911 if we see anything where their presence can make a difference. Also, she made specific mention that the cops will get tips from various people in the community who might call just because they get the feeling something suspicous is going on (e.g., shifty-looking guy on a cell phone at the same time each morning slowly walking down the sidewalk watching for cops). If something feels off to you, nine times out of ten it is... particularly if you are seeing patterns. The cops won't ever know about it unless you call it in.

    Also, please go to your CAPS meetings. The police have their hands full dealing with all the crime in Uptown. Particularly with summer upon us, it's really crucial to have an engaged community presence to fight it -- whether that is calling 911, doing postiive loitering, getting your neighbors to know it is OK to call 911, etc.

  8. As someone who has been loud and intoxicated in public parks in the past (hey, when you can't yet drink legally, you have to have SOMEWHERE to be sneaky about it), I can't condemn THAT bit, but volatile situations, yeah, call the cops. All I ever really did past park closing time was make out with my boyfriend...

    Still, I have never agreed that public parks should stop being public when it gets dark. I demand midnight picnics on Cricket Hill and the right to write and photograph in Millennium park just before dawn, when I am most creative. EVEN if the photographs are of The Bean!!! Can we please have the night back?

  9. All - Glad to see we are generally in agreement.

    Let's not condemn each other for exercising our own personal judgment, but rather encourage each other to maintain control of our community with the resources we have available to us.

    Thank you to everyone for being good citizens.

    As an aside, I took a walk through Uptown from Broadway and Lawrence to the Lake and back. I generally felt safe and was happy to see people out enjoying the night, but had I seen anything (which, unfortunately is more than a remote possibility) I would likely have called 911.

  10. Candice has a point. We are increasingly living in a 24/7/365-6 world and it can no longer be AUTOMATICALLY assumed that people who want to use public spaces after "closing time" are always up to no good. What about night workers downtown who might want to take an unmolested stroll in Grant Park on break time, like the 9-5 crowd? How about romantic walks (upright and fully clothed) along the beach on a summer night?

    There has to be a way to allow these activities while maintaining public safety and decency. But in today's economic climate, among other factors, it probably will have to wait a while to be a reality.

  11. Candice... I did the same thing. Litle did I know at the time that I was breaking the law. Park curfews are set for a reason... whether you're making out or playing sudoku or beating someone's ass in a corner... regardless of what you're engaged in, you are breaing the law just by being there. I don't feel the conduct of these people I observed should even begin to be condoned in any way... even for girls who wanna make out with their significant others... take it somewhere else than a park that you are intelligent enough to know IS CLOSED beyond a certain hour.

  12. gayle ... the events that occur out here are few and far between, but might i remind you that there was a murder on the corner of windsor and clarendon (just below my balcony) many years ago. there was an attempted drive-by towards clarendon park no less than a year ago. most nights? that block is safe as ever. would i walk tomy building on Clarendon from the Red Line after a night uot with the girls? Hell no. But Clarendon Park area has its problems too... Sheridan and Leland are not the only places crime and riots occur.... its all about what is reported.... and when there is a riot on our side, and then one on the Sheridan/Leland side... well obviously one gets more coverage than the other. But we have our corner boys asking us "what you want" (referring to drugs) and we've seen a shooting (no more details will be discussedon that). We are still part of Uptown and just as much stuff goes down over here, if not more, because its not in the central intersections...

  13. Obey the damn law. Do it or not. No grey area. What is so hard to understand there?????