Friday, August 20, 2010

Well, It Was Nice While It Lasted...

It was a relatively peaceful week and a half in Uptown.  Our mailbox got a break from multiple accounts of "shots fired."  We got to post items that didn't include the words "bullets" or "gunshots."  But tonight was another bad one in the area around the Sunnyside Mall:
  • "Around 6:30 tonight I heard a single gunshot down the Magnolia/Malden alley north of Sunnyside. The cops showed up immediately. I heard on the scanner someone ran into Sheridan Park Liquors and said two black males, one with dreadlocks, shot at him. They ran west down Sunnyside."  Another reader -- a police officer -- confirmed there were shots fired near the Mall early in the evening.
  • Apparently that was just Round One.  We got many reports of shots fired (between 5 and 7 rounds, in two bursts) at 10:45pm.  "There were gunshots fired in front of 1322 W Sunnyside around 1045 pm tonight. My neighbors said that there were 2 males running east on Sunnyside immediately after the gunfire. Police arrived within 5 minutes and patrolled the area."


    "Around 11:00 tonight around 4528 N Magnolia there were two shots. Cops showed up and found two 9mm shell casings. A group of teens wearing white t-shirts was seen running east down Sunnyside, but witnesses couldn't be sure if they were victims or shooters. They stopped a gray van around Montrose and Marine they thought was involved."
We're not sure if the Sunnyside reports at 10:45pm and the Magnolia report at 11pm are the same incident or two separate idiocies, but it's very troubling either way.


  1. And thats not all. A black male on a bike wearing a white T- shirt punched someone in the face, snatched an Ipod/Iphone device of some kind and rode north on Magnolia heading towards Wilson. I dont recall the exact time. When you walk these streets at night, you are going to have to assume some sort of defensive posture and PUT AWAY the valuables ! Defensive posture ? Have OC spray unit( or ASP type collapsible baton) very handy. All this while being ready to duck down in case of gunfire. Wow, Uptown today !

  2. Strangely I heard nothing and live right there. This doesn't mean it didn't happen. The guys in white shirts are the same kids from the strip mall at Wilson and Magnolia that the police just can't seem to control.

    On Wednesday night the cops were searching three of these kids on magnolia next to the strip mall. All three kids were smiling and smug, indicating the police were wasting their time. All of them live in section 8 housing just south of sunnyside on magnolia.

    I'm wondering if it is possible for the alderman/police to put the same rules into place that are supposedly in place with the new Cabrini green homes. I've been told that folks who have a prior arrest record or are known gang bangers aren't allowed.

    My other thoughts are that these gentlemen can be deterred in other ways. For the strip mall, simply put up a gang sprinkler. When they hang around, turn the sprinkler on. On the sunnyside promenade, put up gang sprinklers and remove any benches where these folks could sit down.
    I also really think it would benefit to put some large signs that say 'GANGBANGERS HERE' listing ther affiliations and who their rival gangs are.

    Yeah I know that not all of these ideas would work but who's with me on the gang sprinkler?

  3. What's going on over on Magnolia is a massive problem, and APPEARS to be getting worse (is it, or are we just more aware of it?)

    Has the block club met to come up with a list of actionable items and assigned responsibilities?

    Fixing this problem is going to take a lot of work, and the community (that wants to fix the problem) organizing and acting as a coordinated unit.

    The reality is, the community cannot offer everyone who is involved in this type of crap a better life or opportunity today, and these folks are not asking for that kind of help.

    I feel like a full-court press to demand accountability (including follow-ups) of those that actually have the power to change things is what is required. BUT - It has to come from the renters and property owners that have an investment and commitment to this community and that live right there on Clifton, Racine, Magnolia, and Malden.

    My sincere hope is that a new Alderman will help, as a new Alderman might actually engage the community to work together. That is sometime off, but why wait?

    On a positive note, I have heard that the property owner/manager at Wilson and Magnolia has agreed to work with the community to address the problems on that corner, and has already attended community meeting(s). That is encouraging news, and let's hope they continue to engage in the solution.

  4. I heard the activity around 10:45 on Sunnyside, but my neighbors and I didn't think it was gun shots...sounded more like fire crackers, but with the way sounds bounce off of buildings along the alley there we can't be sure.

    The cops were there very quickly though.

  5. I also heard and reported 6 plus shots last night coming from the Sunnyside mall close to Beacon. This morning my neighbor found a bullet lodged in the windshield of their which was parked on Beacon at Sunnyside.

  6. Try a book launcher. Gangs tend to flee at the sight of learning opportunities.

  7. I live right on the corner of Sunnside & Beacon, my building is next to the Mall. I was laying down and then I could have sworn I heard 5 shots in very quick bursts of 3, then 2. I looked at noted the time was 10:47pm on my clock. I though that it could have been some kind of noise from another unit in the building and kind of dismissed it, but then I saw this report.

    Also, I don't know I am seeing this correctly, but it seems that I have noticed some increased loitering on the bench on the far west of the mall and some cars driving down Beacon and slowing down along the curb on the west end of the mall and moving back and forth slowly looking anxiously down the mall, possibly looking to score some drugs. From the looks of the people and the cars I have seen doing this, based off how they look (disheveled, thuggish), I wouldn't be surprised if they are users.

  8. Where are the section 8 parents of these punks that hang around all day and night in the streets of Uptown? Why don`t they take some responsibility in their life once and for all to help stop their good for nothing kids from being a big factor in crime around here.

  9. good luck with pepper spray, batons, sprinklers, posted gang signs and book launchers people. the majority of people on this blog are still unwilling to recognize how deep and complex the problems and roots of gangs and violence are in our society. looking for a quick fix to this problem for you and for young people who join gangs is not gonna happen. i'm not just taking jabs at your suggestions, i've posted my own thoughts on these matters before, but you should stop fooling yourselves with the get-tough mentality and other quirky strategies to move people off the block/out of the neighborhood.

  10. Stash - I think it's always been this bad but folks are just now wising up to it.

    Ron Durham - I'm certain there is a tipping point. Ever read Malcolm Gladwell's book, The Tipping Point? He talks about how crime in the subways of NYC in the 80's was defeated by simply eliminated the grafitti. As soon as it went up, MTA was there to take it down. Once the grafitti was gone, crime was drastically reduced and folks began to help deter it.

    Thinking that we're in a hopeless situation is a ridiculous approach. If you know soo mch about gangs then you can definitely serve the community better here by offering education.

    In terms of the research I've done on the gangs that are on this block and any block thereafter, alot of this stems from not having positive male role models during formative years. The majority in our neighborhood are young black males. I'm certain that somewhere along the line they needed a male role model with guidance and what they got was a man toting a gun, sporting gang tattoos and affiliations.

    Now, the tipping point here in uptown may not have anything to do with gangs whatsoever. Grafitti really didn't have much to do with crime in the NY subway, but maybe it changed the mindset of those committing crimes.

    When I walk the streets of uptown, I feel like I could do anything I want. That could be drinking on street corners, smoking joints while leisurely walking down the street, sleeping on the sidewalk, or shooting at a bunch of folks. I'm sure others feel that same way. Essentially, we've let this neighborhood get away with murder. If we can somehow restore a sense of community where these things aren't accepted, as in a neighborhood like Lincoln Park, this might inadvertently cure a portion of the problem. However the community needs to be there to help keep it clean.

    I'm tired of being negative. We have a unique opportunity as we are undoubtedly get a new alderman within the year and have a chance to implement some changes. One thing we will all need is that sense of hope.

  11. Safety First! That's my motto. Safety... for EVERYONE!

  12. The fact they're moving west down Sunnyside is good news/bad news. It's good news that Kate's Security and other measures are discouraging loitering. The problem is still there, i.e. gunshots on the 4500 block of Magnolia yesterday, but loitering is moving.

    It's bad news for those west because, short of changing behavior or moving the gangs out, they're playing a game of cat and mouse and will move to where ever they can get away with loitering. Let’s see what happens when the problem crosses Clark.

    Cousin Richie: Based on my observation, the slow moving cars you're seeing are:
    1. Buyers looking to score
    2. Dealing accomplices looking for someone to deliver drugs to or pick up cash
    3. Rival gangs scouting the area

    When you see it, report it to 911 as a suspicious vehicle.

  13. Ron, you take a lot of flack on this site but I'm glad that you posted something. It's always good to have a different opinion even if I don't agree with it most of the time. BUT, I do agree with your analysis of the situation when you say that many people do not think about the depth and complexity of the problems that lead to violence in our society. Having said that, I also feel that knowing there are reasons for the violence does not make me inclined to tolerate it in any way. Nor do I feel what I consider to be a misguided need to support legislative or other efforts that everyone knows serve to ensure that criminals are able to continue hurting others (i.e. repealing the gun ban).

    Law abiding people have rights too. It is my right to walk down my street when I want to without worrying about someone popping a cap in my a$$. I am not without empathy and compassion though. The question for me is, "What can we as individuals do to help the disadvantaged who get caught up in a lifestyle that leads to violence?" For me, the answer is to put my efforts toward the education of children. That's just my thing. Either way, I am not ashamed to say that I don't want violent individuals in my neighborhood and will do what I can to get them out.

    Just my 2 cents.

  14. Ron, Ron, Ron... nothing is ever going to change until 1. The laws dealing with these gangbangers get far stricter (call them domestic terrorists and treat them as such)

    2. our government stops encouraging poverty with all the social services and freebies for the able-bodied that doesn't encourage anyone to take personal responsibility for themselves if they know the government will make sure they are fed and their butts are clean

    3. sex education is taught in every elementary school and birth control options for both sexes are given out for free and these teens are no longer encouraged to pop out illegitimate babies because they will no longer get government aid for doing so

    4. People are willing to stop coddling these criminals because of their upbringing. Boo hoo... stop playing the victim. For every whiny gangbanger who thinks he has the right to kill people because his life sucks, is another person who had it just as bad, if not worse and managed to become a responsible citizen. The difference? Choices. One made the right one, and the other chose the easy money option

    5. All drugs are legalized so they are no longer worth so much money to these bangers

    6. Politicians stop using race/poverty hot button issues to bolster their careers

    The list goes on...considering there isn't a chance in hell that any of this will ever happening, you'll have to understand people's frustrations or using sarcastic humor to deal with yet more news of people acting like animals.

  15. At the last CAPS meeting, a man who identified himself as a former gang member from Rogers Park made this statement, "You can't expect the police to clean up the gang problem by themselves. The people who live here have to be involved if you want the gangs out."

    I absolutely agree with this fact.

    Here's what we're doing to actively make this happen:

    * Graceland Wilson Neighbors, GWNA, and Beacon Neighbors will co-host a meeting in September. You can join GWNA on Facebook by searching for Graceland-Wilson Neighbors, or use this link,!/group.php?gid=135394579827029&ref=ts.

    * After the last CAPS meeting I spoke with a lot of newbie Uptown residents who were shell-shocked by the violence. At the block club meeting, we'll share information on how residents work together to improve neighborhood safety.

    * We also heard there was a meeting with the mall owners, however, we have no information on who attended this meeting and what actions are being taken.

    * Our top block club priorities include the Sunnyside Mall, Magnolia and buildings that harbor gang members, drug dealing and all that goes with the lifestyle.

    If you are not a member of GWNA and Beacon Neighbors, please join today. We also are recruiting block club captains who will be helping us connect with neighbors who don't have Internet access.

    Someone asked me, "Can anyone join the block club? Or is it only for homeowners?" Block clubs are for ALL residents who want to live in a safe and vibrant neighborhood.

  16. I can only hope that we remain mindful that these individuals described are not the origin of the problems we continue to see in our community. The violence and crime that we see near our homes is systemic. We must acknowledge that we live in a community that is economically, culturally and racially diverse and there are many members of our community that lack access to decent education, safe housing, stable homes, and positive role models. This places individuals at greater risk for involvement in illegal and/or violent activity when the typical avenues for generating a sustainable and livable income are unavailable.

    My question is how do we, as a community, participate in the process to promote empowerment as we seek permanent change from this sustained pattern of poverty, oppression, drugs and violence in our community? We cannot treat only the symptoms of a disease and expect the disease to go away, just as we cannot take an approach that only targets specific offenders and expect all crime and violence to dissipate. We are unlikely to find any viable solutions without the full cooperation and participation of each system that contributes to and is impacted by this issue.

    There is no place for tolerance of violence and crime just as there is no place for the perpetuation of stigma that already exists.

  17. I look forward to hearing what the aldermanic candidates plan doing to address these problems.

    These people are terrorizing this neighborhood and don't deserve to live here.

  18. My question is how do we, as a community, participate in the process to promote empowerment as we seek permanent change from this sustained pattern of poverty, oppression, drugs and violence in our community? We cannot treat only the symptoms of a disease and expect the disease to go away, just as we cannot take an approach that only targets specific offenders and expect all crime and violence to dissipate.

    Nice sentiment, but I think you have conflated two issues. "Empowerment as we seek permanent change from this sustained pattern of poverty, oppression, drugs and violence" is a long-term systemic issue.

    Removing specific violent offenders would very likely lead to a dramatic drop in violence. If you lived in those buildings, I bet you could name the 20 people who cause 95% of the problems. You don't live in those buildings, so you think that the problem is BIGGER than specific people making specific decisions.

    So, go after the current criminals and work to empower to prevent the future criminals.

  19. Well that explains it. I live RIGHT there and didn't hear a thing. I took the dog out for a walk at 11pm and was greeted by a cop with his gun drawn and a flashlight at my gate. Well, not 'greeted' per se, he was looking for something on the parkway. There was a suspect being frisked on a police car outside the section eight. There were a couple people who I think are residents of the section 8 walking slowly away and mumbling to themselves. By the time I got to the Sunnyside mall, saw a number of police cars slowly circling the neighborhood from several directions. One even slowed down to give me and the dog a once-over. I've live here for almost 12 years. Sheridan Park has never been this eerie.

  20. ron durham: I did not intend for my references to self defense items to be considered a cure-all for what ails Uptown. I understand the problems are deep and complex, and I do not pretend to know or have any easy answers. I am sick and tired of hearing about nice people getting punched in the face for an Ipod or a cellphone. I just want folks to have a chance to survive these encounters without serious injury.

  21. Along with the sprinklers... perhaps some country music. Tammy and Dolly could do the job.

    Ask JPUSA to come out and do a little outdoor bible study.

    Buy some skunk spray.

  22. ___________________________________
    “My question is how do we, as a community, participate in the process to promote empowerment as we seek permanent change from this sustained pattern of poverty, oppression, drugs and violence in our community?”

    It is extremely clear that this is a systemic issue. We cannot ignore the fact that the level of violence occurring in our community, the City of Chicago and in other urban centers is a direct result of pervasive issues such as poverty, oppression, drugs and violence. What I’m addressing in my previous question does in fact target only one issue. Albeit, an extremely large and complex issue that continues to withstand all action that does not address the core elements of the problem.

    Maintaining our efforts to remove violent offenders from the streets supports our stance of intolerance for violence but it does not eliminate the problem. How long have we been witness to crime and violence near our homes? Over and over our police force has taken action by removing offenders from the streets. Let me ask, how’s that been working for us? Who considers last night’s shootings evidence that this strategy is successful? Repeated arrests and incarcerations haven’t eliminated crime and violence yet and it won’t if we continue to rely on this strategy alone.

    Many seem to want to push the gangbangers out of the neighborhood. I agree that it is important to take a stance that violence and drugs in our community will not be tolerated. I also disagree with any methods that will only relocate the problem. Are we succumbing to NIMBY mentality? All for one and one for ourselves? I expect more.

  23. Sorry, but I prefer to relocate the gang bangers to the jails, not to other neighborhoods, so technically I am a NIMBY. Is it a long-term fix? No, but I need a short term fix that keeps children in our neighborhood safe. It's all well and good to talk about the underlying causes and long-term, but immediate efforts at security are needed first. And sorry, but as we've seen in NYC, an aggressive approach to crime, even smaller minor ones, can significantly improve the levels of crime and violence.

  24. Sarah, I agree that it's a systems issue. I also observe that our community has a disproportionate amount of crime.

    Helen and her ilk will claim our efforts to get rid of gangbangers is NIMBYish. I've always thought it rather insulting to assume that poor people like putting up with gangs too.

    Still, I wonder why the rate of gangbanging is higher in Chicago than in other large metropolitan areas?

  25. I agree with Sneki--relocate the criminals to the jails. There is no doubt that the police are doing the best they can but without the numbers and all the legal loopholes that thwart them from really cracking down on those they need to, things aren't going to be changing. Until then, I love the idea of sprinklers, JPUSA running Bible studies at the Sunnyside Mall or country music blasting from loud speakers.

  26. violence in general is certainly systemic. who are some of the biggest gangs operating on the global level? look no further than u.s. corporations and their proxies that pollute, steal land and kill when necessary to maximize profit. i think it's pretty hypocritical and INEFFECTIVE to complain about (or try to prevent) gang violence on our streets without acknowledging how deeply ingrained violence is in the way our institutions do business around the world. we'll never get rid of the violent problems at home until we work on changing the violent values we promote on a larger scale. i know hearing this makes a lot of people VERY uncomfortable but it's tough to argue against it. whether you believe it or not, these institutions (corporations, military, etc.) provide models of behavior for all young people in our society.

  27. Okay, Ron, you've got your socialist rant out there, so now you can be satisfied.

    But remember, your values are not those of the community at large. Remember when you were invited not to return to a neighborhood group of lower-income folks who were working on the problems in Uptown after you freaked out at the suggestion that youth GET JOBS? Their moms were all for it. You were horrified at the very idea. So you and Lucky were asked not to return. You are so far to the radical left that you've left everyone else in the dust.

    You're like the guy quoted in LEN -- a fellow COURAJ member -- whose solution to the gang violence on Magnolia was to "take over the federal government and then legalize all drugs, and then work on Magnolia."

    So your plan to get rid of the military and corporations might just have to take a back seat to, oh, I don't know, enforcing the One Strike Law and working with the owners of the businesses at the strip mall at Wilson and Magnolia.

    THEN you can work on dismantling capitalism, corporations and the U.S. Military. Priorities, y'know?

  28. haha, "trumansquarenabr",

    i don't think i've ever been dis-invited to a community meeting (except maybe CAPS a time or two but that's more of a police meeting i was told!), nor do i oppose jobs for people who need and want them, quite the opposite; you're either lying (bc i doubt you were actually at a meeting like that) or you were misinformed. i think the type of jobs that are created is important though. creating jobs that contribute to the exploitation of other people or violence would not be a good thing for the world or those holding those jobs. i think you would agree, if not, you should support the local drug trade! that was my point at the aforementioned meeting.

    hey, by the way, "trumansquarenabr", weren't you supposed to buy me a beverage of my choice last year at the truman square block party? i was there and saw who i believe to be you there too! what's up with that? peace.

  29. Ron Durham, I love your comment: "i think it's pretty hypocritical and INEFFECTIVE to complain about (or try to prevent) gang violence on our streets without acknowledging how deeply ingrained violence is in the way our institutions do business around the world."

    It's such a wonderfully out of sync, 'hippy-dippy' type of comment. Uptown is like a triage. Gang violence needs to be dealt with immediately, like a tumor.

  30. i think it's pretty hypocritical and INEFFECTIVE to complain about (or try to prevent) gang violence on our streets without acknowledging how deeply ingrained violence is in the way our institutions do business around the world. - Ron

    Ron, your way of thinking makes it so that we can never ever address gang violence in this neighborhood until we rid the entire country of institutions that promote any sort of violence first. You're so focused on the forest that you can't see the trees right in front of you.

    Honestly, you are no different than those businesses that promote violence. You and Lucky both promote violence in this community in your attempts to throw up roadblocks to address it. You know better but you choose to be blind. Kids die and you're focused on corporations. How very sick.

  31. The best thing we can do to combat gang activity is make it uncomfortable for the gangs to operate in our streets. Clearly the gang war is moving west to Beacon and Sunnyside.

    Dover is looking to add speed bumps between Wilson and Sunnyside, and Sunnyside and Clark to slow gang vehicles speeding and cruising.

    Years ago, Andersonville added the bumps and islands to their sidestreet intersections to slow gang related traffic. This maybe a good idea.

    Stockton school will be in session shortly, perhaps the parents who walk their kids to school through the gang area can get in touch with the school to see what the safety plan is for kids going and coming from the school, ie school guard at Beacon and Sunnyside, patrol cars at intersections around the school before and after session...

    A lot of students pass through the gang area. Do we need a positive loitering event at the mall for the first week of school?

    These are all actionable ideas.

  32. I'd like to invite all of the alderman candidates to host events smack dab in the middle of the gang-related areas, specifically the Sunnyside mall. Let's draw attention to these areas! And let us see what each candidate is proposes to end the gang violence.

  33. "holey moley." et al.

    this isn't about me, all i've done is propose some ideas that criticize the usual, ineffective approach in this neighborhood to reducing violence. i notice that nobody has refuted my idea, only criticized it for being too broad and criticized me personally.

    i don't attempt to put up road blocks to reducing or stopping gang violence. and i don't think we need to fix every other problem in the world before trying to reduce violence on our streets, but in order to be effective we need to see how these different issues are so closely related. in fact i've talked with and LISTENED to many of the guys on the street to try to better understand the violence that exists in order to convince guys to stay out of it. and working with only a small number of people who are willing to actually do this type of work, unfortunately we've been pretty much totally unsuccessful. these are deep problems and will not be solved overnight. in order to see lasting results we need fundamental structural change to our institutions and societal values.

    i commend people who actually put in work to fix these problems (instead of just complaining) but am only trying to encourage them to think about these problems in a different way which i think allows people to better understand the situation. the very strong response of people here speaks to how uncomfortable this topic makes people because it make us evaluate our own lives and how we are connected to/contribute to negative aspects of our society. i fully expected such a response some some of you.

    i have worked with others to prevent the police from violating people's constitutional rights and disrespecting the community. i have in no way attempted to prevent them from doing their jobs by investigating crime and making arrests when someone commits a crime. if that is a road block to stopping violence then maybe we need to change the Constitution.

    and as far as jobs, it'd be great if there could be more jobs for people in the community who need and want them. that would do far more to reduce crime than more cops or more speed humps in the street.

  34. ***Agrees with Ron

    It isn't about Ron at all. He's right in that respect, but where I disagree is his hopeless approach. Ghandi said 'be the change you want to see in the world'.

    If you want to focus on nuclear proliferation, suffering in other countries or the generalized things that are way beyond your control, than certainly the world is a hopeless place. It seems to me if you can start with yourself and your own zen that will rub off on those around you, whether it's your family, friends, neighbors, romans or countrymen.

    Rather than fixing the world, why not fix the part you can change and especially the part you control?

    I'm from Detroit and if you think we've got it worse off in uptown, you are highly mistaken. There is a street in Detroit called Heidelberg. Like most places in the D, this street was abandoned and left to urban decay until one day a man who returned from vietnam decided to paint polka dots on a house. Then he began collecting the decay around him and organizing it into piles. Eventually he covered the block.

    Today, it's known as the Heidelberg Project ( and one of the most important art exhibits in the city's history. Millions have visited including myself on a multitude of occasions. I've gone looking for inspiration, in times of solitude and to show others. It's hard to believe that ONE mans' vision found the beauty in the decay of humanity. This gave a city with little hope a bright shining beacon, smack dead in the middle of violence.

    From his point of view, it must've been hopeless. It started with ONE abandoned house. Now the world is watching. Maybe his hopelessness is what fueled a macro revelation?

  35. in order to see lasting results we need fundamental structural change to our institutions and societal values. -Ron

    I also want world peace. While I'm solving the world's problems, I want to focus on having violence stop in my own neighborhood. Ron, every time you and Lucky come to CAPS, it's a focus on police picking on some innocent gangbangers who are just trying to make a few bucks selling their dope in their hopes of poisoning the community. At one CAPS meeting, Lucky accused the police and the residents of jumping to conclusions when a woman with over 300 arrests had a court case coming up.

    You do everything you can to wage a war between different classes of people. You're not interested in peace. You never were.

    You're interested in waging a revolution. Let's call it for what it is and stop playing around.