Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tribune: Uptown's Gang Violence Causes Concern

By Jeremy Gorner, Tribune Reporter
Photo by Brian Cassella

Drawn to Chicago's Uptown community by its rich diversity, Mary Dombrowski lives with her husband and preteen daughter in a spacious condo just off Wilson Avenue, a popular thoroughfare frequented by young professionals, dog walkers and mothers pushing babies in strollers.

But just around the corner, on her block of Magnolia Avenue, the Brooklyn native isn't worried about muggings or burglaries so much as being one of the city's innocents caught in the middle of a gang gunfight. She's been on the street just minutes before or after shootings but fortunately never at precisely the wrong moment. "I've been lucky, for lack of a better word," she said.

While not one of the city's high-crime areas, this melting pot of a community — a mix largely of black, white, Hispanic and southeast Asian residents — has been struggling for years with pockets of gang violence. Continue reading at the Tribune


  1. Thank God this kind of BS ends today.
    Congradualtions James and Molly! - lead us into a better 46th/neighborhood. re:

    "Shiller and her staff have reached out to local anti-violence groups for help, but she cautioned that discussions of crime in Uptown are often polarizing, creating the perception that "all poor people are criminals," she said."

  2. "Entire groups of people are demonized when in fact what we want to do is isolate a problem and address it," she [Shiller] said.

    Isolating the issue was/is easy enough; but, it's terribly difficult to address any problem if you publicly reject the fact that one exists.

    The results of such rejection couldn't be any more predictable:

    While gun violence in the Town Hall District is far less prevalent than in most other districts, two of its beats within Uptown saw shootings soar in 2010 over the previous year

    Granted, Helen and her merry bunch of anti-violence groups (*sigh*) can't be expected to solve all of the ward's ills, and she certainly isn't directly responsible for the increased violence - but, turning one's back on the issue and the public's rather vocal concerns doesn't help.

    Luckily, come May, we'll have someone in office who may actually give a sh*t about public safety.

    On a positive note, I will have to give her points for consistency: she made sure she was able to drive that wedge deeper into the class divide.

  3. Just for continuing to say things like this makes you a criminal in my mind Helen. You are far from poor!

  4. How'd they find her to get the quote? It's an election day miracle!

  5. How'd they find her to get the quote? It's an election day miracle!

    Legacy management is a powerful motivation.

  6. Where are the quotes from residents that "all poor people are criminals?" It is hard to imagine a day when this tactic worked, maybe in the 1960's in Madison, but this is 2011. Why is it these "poor people" who have been shooting up the hood are wearing 300 dollar leather coats and 100 dollar Nike's while us "rich" people are wearing 20 dollar Target items?

    WTF Bizzaro is Helen Shiller living in? I am glad she is gone, and I hope as many of the people who think like her follow her out of Dodge as well.

  7. Let's not forget, Helen still has several months in office to do things to tick us off.

  8. I just about threw up when I read this online last evening. Helen could fertilize the Great Plains with the load of b.s. she spews forth every time she opens her mouth.

  9. I hate to say it, but Helen has a point: discussions of crime are polarizing and many people do poverty and crime. BUT that only means that the alderman's job is more difficult - address crime while protecting low income residents from class-based attacks. This requires a patient, constant engagement with the community, a calm discussion of the issue, and, most importantly, a strong sense of justice.

    Which of our candidates have demonstrated these approaches?

  10. Hello bloggers. I live near the lawrence house. I was awakend by a loud pop what sounded like a gunshot at around 5:15 morning. My neighbor heard it too. He saw police as well. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

  11. Many people link crime and poverty? Or is it statistics that link crime and poverty? Im confused.

    While our new alderman/woman/man is protecting the feelings of a select few of "low income residents" from "class-based attacks" I hope that he/she protects the middle class income or as Helen would call them "rich" residents from the bullets flying through the neighborhood from these same "low income residents."

    And by "strong sense of justice" you mean "social justice," not the kind of justice that locks the bad guys up. The later had no place in Helen Shiller' Uptown.

  12. Casey - I did not hear it, but that does not mean it did not happen. Bring it up at the next CAPS meeting for sure.

  13. When was the last time Helen actually attempted to have a discussion about crime in the ward? And by 'discussion', I mean an open forum, not her lousy "attempted fisticuffs" open letter from last year.
    How would she know what the reaction would be and whether it's polarizing if she never attempts to have the discussion?

  14. I for one can't wait for Helen to leave office so you guys can maybe think of something more constructive to do with your time other than bad mouth her. Who will you have to blame for all the 46th wards problems when she is gone?

  15. Greyhound,

    when Shiller is gone I will blame YOU for all the problems around here.

    Now lighten up and watch some Mickey and Donald doing the William Tell overture.

  16. 2/23/11

    Drove home down LSD back to Rogers Park. Decided to get off at Wilson.
    Cops stationed all over. One at LSD. Others at good strategic postions on Wilson by Sheridan and also by Broadway north and south.

    New lights are ablazing on Broadway north of Wilson.

    Almost seems like a new spectre is presiding over the city and over Uptown.

    I think the cops/mayor/alderman/etc etc all know that this is the most crucial strategic zone in the city to get under control. And the city is in transition and should be moving in the right direction....

  17. "I think the cops/mayor/alderman/etc etc all know that this is the most crucial strategic zone in the city to get under control."

    I wish that you were right, but really doubt that it's suddenly now a priority for city hall.

  18. *I* hate to say it, but discussions about crime in the 46th Ward is polarizing very simply because Helen Shiller has chosen over her time in office to MAKE those discussions polarizing. Every time valid concerns have been raised in recent times, Shiller and her gang have immediately turned the residents' "we are concerned about crime...what can we do?" into "YOU ARE CLASSIST PIGS WHO WANT ALL THE POOR PEOPLE OUT OF UPTOWN!! IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT, MOVE TO LINCOLN PARK!!" Never mind that when the crime is somehow connected with particular buildings, we consistently bring the message that even the people who live in subsidized or CHA housing should have the right to live without fear of crime. In reality, the classist pigs and polarizers have been Shiller and the Shilleristas. I am looking forward to having an alderman who truly cares about the community in its entirety and invites ALL of its members to the table to discuss our common problems and find common solutions. I think the people who actually live in our neighborhood should have the voice in how we work together, not rabblerousing outsider groups with their own agendas, not developers who pocket our money and retire comfortably to the suburbs, not research projects from the U of C, and not those who want to keep the status quo for the gangbangers who don't care any more about Uptown than they do about, say, Hinsdale.

  19. How could Helen relate to the crime. Doesn't she live north of Lawrence? A block or so away from Lakewood-Balmoral?

  20. Just a thought here, but my real concern is what happens when she is gone? I have a feeling that no matter who we elect to take her place, there's going to be a lot of people who got used to the "support" her and her staff provided that aren't going to have those connections any more and might feel a bit adrift. I worry that those people who got used to a certain level of service - regardless of income or race -might take it upon themselves to be a little more aggressive in getting what they feel is their due. Once they start feeling like they're not taken care of by the system, they might be even less invested in obeying the law to get what they want. We have all the social services and shelters and housing a person could want in this neighborhood, but once those face to face connections are broken with the new alderman, I am concerned there will be a long line of people waiting not just for it to hit the fan, but to throw it in themselves.

  21. Wow you think you could, perhaps, project or more pessimistic prognostication?

  22. Yeah, note that Shiller doesn't live anywhere near the crime-ridden parts of Uptown. Guess it's fine as long as it's not in her backyard.

  23. Bradley - like it or not, this Trib article does inspire a bit of pessimism in me. Maybe it sounds overly dramatic but I'm am truly concerned that the changeover might be a bit more bumpy and, yes, polarizing than one might anticipate. People who might have gotten extra care from Shiller are bound to get upset when their level of service changes and in this neighborhood, anything goes when someone's upset.

    Don't get me wrong. I'm as happy as anyone that Shiller's showing herslef the door and I'm optimistic that either of the two candidates can make a big difference long term, but I won't be surprised if things get even more "polarized" by the time the weather warms up to shootin' temperature. As the father of a very young child and someone who lives on Magnolia, the Trib article only reinforces my concerns. At this point, I've called 911 way too many times to be optimistic about what a new alderman can do about gang violence in this neighborhood by the time school's out for summer.

    And I am exceptionally happy that new alderman or not, there's any media coverage of the issue.

  24. If there are residents of the ward that required "extra care" in order to keep a lid on violence this is information that would have been helpful over the years if Shiller bothered to actively communicate with the community. Alas, she did not.

    If the new alderman arrives to discover there was a program in place to do this they can work on a new framework. Because I doubt residents are going to support an unequal application of policy.