Saturday, November 12, 2011

Another Night, Another Report

Around 4am, we were awakened by the sound of shots fired, followed by sirens.  Made a mental note to check the email box when we got up and yes, there it was, a note from a reader:  "4 shots were fired at 4:11 am near Sunnyside and Magnolia."  It's the third time this week we've woken up to similar notes.

As sick as we are of the gangs, we are equally sick of those who defend them.  No, folks, they are not "good boys" because you know their mother or you're dating them.  They are fools and criminals, and they put their own silly ideas of "turf" (which they don't, and will never, own) above the safety of their neighbors and themselves.

They consider themselves bad-asses, but in actuality are such bad shots that they put bullets through innocent people's windows and shoot young mothers holding babies whose only crime is waiting for a bus. They don't care that young kids are trick-or-treating... they shoot right down streets full of children. They don't thank God they didn't die when they were shot; their solution is to murder someone six months later.

So, gangbangers, here's a free clue -- unless you get out of thug life, you will either die or go to prison because of your stupid choice to join a gang.  We as a community will do everything in our power to prevent you from shooting and gangbanging here.  Uptown has a lot going for it and we're not fooled:  You're not "good boys."


  1. Let's talk facts and philosophy.

    1, People are inherently good, but make bad choices that can put themselves and others in harms way. There is always the potential to begin to make good choices and turn things around, however. But if we are to subscribe to your philosophy that these individuals are inherently bad, then we may as well throw our hands up in the air and expect no change whatsoever.

    All of this bitching and whining that I read that is conducted in this manner is totally not productive or progressive.

    2, Countless studies show that we cannot expect to see behavior change in individuals that live in an environment that does not encourage or foster it. So having our police officers "crack down" by arresting suspicious individuals (reading: my boyfriend, who is African American, was running to catch the train yesterday because he was late for work and was tackled by officers who thought he might look like a gang member) or engaging in other profiling activities is not going to fix or improve the problem, as we have all witnessed.

    What it takes is a community-based response - social support, improved communication, opportunities for alternatives, etc. Chicago has half-assed this response since the 1980s. You think city officials have learned by now? So why don't you spend less time bitching and more time researching the real roots of the problem. Google is a great start.

  2. Sweet Beat, lest you think my "thank you" was directed to you, it most assuredly was not. It was directed to UU.

    I'll respond to your "facts and philosophy" with some more facts and philosophy. When I suggested some weeks ago that there were opportunities outside of the gangs for young black men, I was ridiculed by members of the subsidized housing contingent who said that there was no way that I would hire a felon to walk my dog. Correct, I won't hire a felon to come into my house when I am away. However, I said "young black man" and a person from that contingent automatically assumed that the person must be a felon. If we're going to talk about perception, then perhaps the change in perception needs to happen within the community closest to the offenders and would-be offenders.

    I am sorry that your boyfriend got tackled; that totally sucks. And this is not directed to him or you because I have never seen/met you. But your claim that this environment doesn't foster or encourage behavior change is absolute bulls**t. I don't care if I am labeled a racist, but I will assume (and probably do so correctly) that a man wearing baggy pants well blow the beltline, a hat with the tag still attached, an standing around or ambling with no apparent purpose or direction is nothing more than a worthless gangbanger. Yes, it's profiling, but it is perfectly reasonable under the circumstances. I will also call the cops if I see a similarly dressed man standing in front of my condo building for more than 5 minutes doing absolutely nothing. There are very few legitimate reasons to behave that way. The corollary is that I will not eagle eye or call cops on people who do not engage in such behavior. My actions create a negative response that surely encourages a change in their behavior, if they're willing to recognize that encouragement. But any change must come from choice first. By making it more difficult and annoying for the gangbangers to do their gangbanging shtick, I hope they are more likely to choose to become a contributing member of society. This community has the social support for these young men and plenty of opportunity for alternatives to the criminal lifestyle. But you are unwilling to admit the crucial fact that these young men have free will and make their own choices and they reject that community support.

  3. What it takes is a community-based response - social support, improved communication, opportunities for alternatives, etc

    It's one thing to offer such programs, and another for those in need to take advantage of them.

    Last I checked, we're swamped with such services and yet, the shooting continues.

    CeaseFire came in. And yet, the shooting continues.

    Alternatives is here, and yet, the shooting continues.

    That's not to say those groups aren't experiencing some level of success (again, proving that something didn't happen is a tough logical nut to crack).

    It's to say that people are trying, and yet, the shooting continues.

    One very important fact: not every one who lives in the same environments as gangangers turns into a gang banger.

    Maybe all people aren't inherently good, afterall.

    And, while there's much truth in what you posted, there is also much validity in allowing people to vent their frustrations at the continued failure of programs, politicians and special interest groups who, like you've said, have been half-assing responses .. dating back much further than the 80's.

    Bitching and moaning are integral to progress to a solution.

    Without such outcry, there is limited motivation to address the problems.

    Or, short version: don't be angry at people for being upset that a small group of ignornat, selfish, dumbasses are shooting up the neighnborhood after so many resources have been used in so many attempts to make any sort of progress.

    Let's not overlook one very important cause/effect aspect: these morons are fostering an environment inwhich people, such as your boyfriend, are put into such situations as the one you'd mentioned.

    Your boyfriend was tackled because of the actions of gangbangers.

    Of course, my entire post is moot if you were able to provide any sort of example where a community-based response - social support, improved communication, opportunities for alternatives, etc have proven successful in curbing this type of ignorant behavior.

    I'm sure everyone would love a productive framework to use in order to build this support system.

    Maybe there's something on Google.

  4. STOP crying and complaining!! And no I'm not for gang activity nor do I live in low income housing, I feel aside from the gang problem, robberys, rapes and other s@&t that goes on in our neighborhood as a matter of FACT crime in uptown is lower than other neighborhoods we as a COMMUNITY have to stand up or shut up!
    Starting with this cease fire crap they got going on.. HOW can they put a so called x gang member from down the block and have them walk around aiding and abeding his co- Horts as to WHO to hurt Mame or injure next? That's first off. I know about cease fire and I would LIKE to know WHO is letting these people gangbang AND get payed for it????? NOW I'm pissed off. It's adding fuel to the fire.... Give me an answer!

  5. If we agree that people are inherently good, then doesn't that make it worse that they CHOOSE to shoot other people, and put innocent lives in danger? I am sick and F--KING tired of these "good" people making me feel unsafe in my own front yard! If they choose to do bad/stupid things when they obviously know better, they deserve (and have earned) any consequences they may suffer from their actions.

    Now, not only are these "good" people endangering others, but they are burdening the rest of society to change their behavior for them. But wait, they are already good people, they just don't ACT good. "Hey there's Jim, he's a nice guy. He just ACTS like an a-hole."

    Therefore, it seems to me, that an inherently good person who chooses to bad, is worse than someone being an inherently bad person who doesn't know the difference between right and wrong.

    If you want people to consider you a good person, do good things, and dont f--king shoot people!!

  6. Amen to nugatory.
    I follow the same philosophy. Its nice to hear it expressed in such plain english.

    If you check out everyblock RP you will see around ashland and farwell and ashland and morse we just had some nutso gangbangers shooting up the town last night.

    WE have positive loitering going on as well and its successful.

    Dont fit the profile if you dont want to be profiled. Right?

  7. cweetbeat, you go your way (chucking snowballs into the eternal pit to lower the temperature) and I'll go mine (not pretending that there's sweet @#$% all anyone can do about those unfortunate hoodlums ... I'd say 90+% of them are _done_ sociologically ... all we can do is politely clean up their messes).

    Here's some reading: [Summary (moral judgments aside): What do you do when you close a place like Cabrini-Green? Move the low end to a new place of that type, or sprinkle them throughout the city? There's no easy answer. In Chicago, what's the difference, really, between the Thorndale and Wilson stops? History aside, it reduces to proximity to Section 8 housing.]

  8. Thank you, cweetbeat. My argument here is not over whether or not we have programs and opportunities available, whether or not they're being utilized, or whether the environment directly causes these individuals' behaviors -- it's simply about the overall mentality. If we have all decided that these are "bad" people to their core, then what are we hoping for? What outcome are we really expecting? Why do we even bother creating programs in the first place? As a gang member, would I be likely to buy into those programs when the messages I'm getting from EVERYWHERE else is that I'm "bad" and need to just go to jail or "get out," only to be told by the next neighborhood that I shouldn't be there either? We create programs, we positive loiter, and we expect that to send out positive vibes when immediately in the background we keep on grumbling about there being no hope for these inherently bad people.

    So I'm just not sure what we're hoping for here. Yes, I'm sure many would bluntly respond to my question with, "send them all to jail for life," but it's just naive to think that's the solution to the problem. Keeping people in jail is expensive, most are going to be let out eventually, and from years of history I think we can conclude that sending people to jail doesn't scare others into ending gangs and violence anyway.

  9. cweetbeat that was the best comment I've read on UU in months!!

  10. Immaculate -- If you'd still like to connect via email, you can contact UptownUpdate and they'll exchange our email addresses.

  11. @cweetbeat

    No, people are inherently NOTHING. Good & bad are subjective societal norms, not objective measures. As such, these people are showing that they do not care or abide by societal norms. Societal norms get codified into LAW.

    So they demonstrate they are a threat to the society at large. Yes, it suck, but when you have total disregard for others in hat society/culture, don't be surprised when you come out on the short end of he stick.

    Screw 'em. There's enough places around Uptown for them to "seek help" if they want it. It's obvious they do not want it, so F' Em. Hopefully we'll get conceal carry and then they will be running scared.

    A half-wit gangbanger is no threat to a lawfully firearmed trained citizen. How many 'accidenatl' shooting of 6-year olds do you see from. Licensed carrier?

  12. @cweebeat. 1)Maybe this will come as a surprise to you but the truth is the 10 year olds make mistakes, 17 year olds dont make mistakes. They make choices and they hope that they are gonna get away with it. Needless to say they do not.
    2)uptown has been an enviroment that has actually tolerated this behavior for years. Now that things are turning around and everything is in the open everyone is crying racial profiling. And its not only white people that are fed up with it. Weather you like to admit it or not an AA male standing in the corner with a hood covering all his face and his pants to the tell me. The drug dealers are African Americans the shooters are African Americans. What am i to think? How can you blame the police for it?
    Lastly. Why are we obligated to offer alternatives and social support? They are available but no one seems to take advantage of them. You are an adult, you made your bed. Sleep in it.

  13. So, your boyfriend got tackled running for the train. Really? Cops don't tackle people "just because they look like a gangbanger." That sounds like an anti-cop political statement. I ams ure all these shooters are really honors students at Uplift.

    If people are inherently good, why do we need programs for behavioral change?

    Sorry... I don't agree with your post.

  14. Ok - so instead of bitching non-stop and having team 1 and team 2 - why doesnt anyone do anything? Sunnyside and Magnolia - i hear shooting all the time. it sucks, of course it does. social programs are in available, but what is the incentive for a gang member to go?

    profiling is vile - and until its been done to you, you shouldnt argue its case. im a white female, who is part hispanic - i don't always look "white." after september 11 - i was profiled a number of times when flying to europe. its vile, its rotten and i dont believe it makes anyone safer. because just as easily as i can be pulled out a line and coralled, somone else slips through. its absurd. same with doing it to black males.

    i dont understand why people dont go out and instead of standing around loitering with their dogs, why dont you try to integrate yourself into the community - go to bronco billy and play with the kids. there are plent of kids there - if you dont want grown people using the basket ball hoops - organize some pick up games or something for the kids. i went over there plenty of times this summer with my kids extra bike, just so the kids could have a bike to mess around with. they looked forward to it. take some chalk out to sunnyside mall - the kids will come.

    the truth is - youre not going to do anything about the grown gang members - if there was an easy answer, gang problems wouldnt exist virtually everywhere- but if you start with the kids, and give them a reason to feel good, its a start. and parents should be held accountable, of course.

    but for the shooting - i dont know - the work needs to be done at the root cause, deal with the social issues - but even still - where is the incentive for a gang member to do anything else? In most cases, i doubt there is much incentive. sad.

  15. You had me until "People are inherently good."

    They are not.

    People have a tremendous capacity to justify immoral behavior in order to preserve their self-worth. No one ever sees themselves as a buy guy.

    People do have the ability to change, but frankly, if you're pulling a gun and shooting at people at the corner of Sunnyside and Magnolia, you have a lot of changing to do. The first bit of change doesn't involve any community-based response. It's called "STOP F*CKING SHOOTING PEOPLE."

    "Countless studies show that we cannot expect to see behavior change in individuals that live in an environment that does not encourage or foster it."

    Here's a environment that encourages and fosters change: the neighborhood is sick of your gangs and the police will roust and harass and arrest you until you PUT THE GUN DOWN.

    Do you realize how great this neighborhood is? It's tremendously diverse with an awesome friendly spirit and gorgeous streets. It's close to the lake, public transportation, and shopping. If you are not encouraged by this environment, then something is wrong with you.

  16. I feel the root of the issue is at home. If more parents took their parenting roles more seriously and ingrained right and wrong in their kids instead of letting them roam the streets unchecked, the gangs would be less successful in recruiting. It is not the government’s job to teach these concepts. It is not the community’s responsibility to supervise neighborhood kids’ behavior. These kids need to be at home, learning from positive parental figures, not on the corner smoking, swearing and acting a menace.

    Unfortunately, it's a difficult cycle to break when poor parenting has been going on for generations. If the parents don't understand the salient points of family and society, how can they teach their kids? I don't know the answer to that.
    What I do know is social services, taxpayer-provided alternatives and good Samaritans are ineffectual if the subject does not want to change. A gangbanger cannot be converted by the will of others. These kids somehow need to understand that they don't have to follow the path they are on. They can put down the gun and read a book. They can get an education and begin a career. They can pull themselves up by their own bootstraps and become respected human beings and contributors to society.

    It's not easy but who has ever promised an easy life? Not even God or the Bible promises you an easy or comfortable life. Conversely, God intentionally challenges everyone in an effort to shape and perfect them over a lifetime. I have been provided every opportunity possible by a loving middle class family but my life certainly isn’t easy. When things don’t go my way, I work harder or change my perspective. Seems with many of these troubled youths, they shrink in the face of adversity. They claim they want ‘respect’ but what have they ever done to earn it? This comes back to family and instilled values.

    We could shut up and pour money and resources into more services and alternate avenues for these people as some recommend but that will not work either. Many of these kids may want to do well and want to improve themselves but they feel trapped so they go the only route they see is an option. Conversely, many of these kids will not ever be ‘good’ because it is more difficult to move against the grain and they do not have the guts/willpower to save themselves. I may complain as cweetbeat states some do. However, I cannot save these kids. I am an engineer with a new wife and, god willing, a family to come. My life is not dedicated to helping people who choose not to help themselves. Heck, I am not really qualified to help those who CANNOT help themselves. I strongly feel it is on the families to turn this behavior around; to raise morally grounded children that value life and family. Cut the gangs off at their source; by no longer raising children in a loveless, hopeless household. I can say with confidence, my kids will never be in gangs. That is my way of helping the greater good: raising positive contributors to the next generation.

  17. @ cweetbeat~
    I am trying to understand your position and even half agree with it; however, I think that Uptown actually does have plenty of social support for the "community-based response, social support and improved communication, opportunities for alternatives, etc." that you say is needed to help take care of the crime problems. So, what that tells me is that those who need the services--such as gang bangers who may want to leave their doomed lifestyles--are not taking advantage of them.

    You also say that "Countless studies show that we cannot expect to see behavior change in individuals that live in an environment that does not encourage or foster it." Obviously, it makes the choice to turn one's life around harder without support but if the choice is not made, that's where the police come in. Their job is not to help people turn their lives around.
    That's what social service agencies are for. The job of the police is to protect the innocent people whose lives are in danger BECAUSE of the people who engage in all kinds of criminal activity for a living. Sorry about your boyfriend. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time and probably fit the description of someone the cops were looking for. It happens.

  18. We all know why sections of Uptown have more than their share of gang bangers, drug dealing and crime. The die was cast during Shiller’s reign when she continued to stuff more low-income housing into those very neighborhoods. No social program, better communication, or improved opportunities will change the fact that youth are influenced by the other youth around them (for good and for bad) and when the scales are tipped too much in one direction it’s too late.

    Jasper provided a link to a very astounding article. Here it is again. Read it.

    Here’s an excerpt.
    “About six months ago, they decided to put a hunch to the test. Janikowski merged his computer map of crime patterns with Betts’s map of Section8 rentals. Where Janikowski saw a bunny rabbit, Betts saw a sideways horseshoe (“He has a better imagination,” she said). Otherwise, the match was near-perfect. On the merged map, dense violent-crime areas are shaded dark blue, and Section8 addresses are represented by little red dots. All of the dark-blue areas are covered in little red dots, like bursts of gunfire. The rest of the city has almost no dots.”

  19. Cweetbeat... you want facts and figures? You say that Uptown has gangs because we don't provide social opportunities or alternatives?

    Well, here are some facts and figures for you. "The 46th Ward has more service providers than the combined total of our neighboring wards to the north and south. Many of these services are targeted toward low-income populations and children. The 2007 study by Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago entitled Chicago Children and Youth 1990-2010: Changing Population Trends and Their Implications for Services shows that Uptown has the highest concentration of services targeting children on Chicago’s Northside."

    So much for the big, mean community not providing any support for your poor little misunderstood gunslingers.

    In fact, the very largest number of services are for ... let me Google it ... "Extra Curricular Youth Activities." There are 25 such agencies in the 46th Ward, 23 in the 48th Ward, and 5 in the 44th Ward.

    So I call bullshit on your theorem that if only the gangbangers had something else to do, they'd stop shooting up our streets.

    If that's the case, Uptown would be the LAST place on the Northside they'd feel the need to terrorize.

    Frankly, I am amazed at your attitude. If you can't be against armed criminals shooting guns in your community in broad daylight, and hitting innocent victims instead, then what can you be against?

    Seriously, I think you need to be tested for Stockholm Syndrome. Or Shillerista Syndrome, perhaps?

  20. Media Critic, I'm one of the white people who lives in the midst of the Racine/Sunnyside/Clifton gang hotspot (since 1996), and I would LOVE to see the bangers locked away to rot. But I also take strong issue with your assertion about "anti-cop" statements and the entire idea of racial profiling. IT HAPPENS.

    My partner works at a home improvement store in Lincoln Park with a very quiet and respectful African-American man who commutes by CTA from the south side, where he cares for his Alzheimer's-afflicted mother. He was running late one day, and jogged from the Fullerton Red Line to get to work on-time...and was detained by the CPD. Why? He was dressed for work, not looking or acting like a thug...but he is black, and he was not walking. Detained for "being black". And then there's my best friend, son of an Air Force officer, conservative dresser, retired insurance executive, well-off financially, and who happens to be black yet doesn't speak with a hint of "ghetto". He was walking around a house he rented, getting landscaping ideas for the house he just bought--and was sat in the back of a police cruiser until they verified with the house owner that he was indeed renting the house (they wouldn't even let him go inside to get the lease as proof).

    So don't pull this crap without knowing about what you're writing--yes, the police have to use their best judgement when deterring crime, but too frequently they ignore behaviors and focus simply on race. Police have to be smarter, and they have to act appropriately--after the last teen girls' fist fight in front of our building, they had THREE separate (white) households ask to file complaints against the instigators, and they decided their judgement was better than ours. They never followed up, and the girl who started the fight is now threatening other girls and their family members. Inexcusable.

  21. This goes so much deeper than even the gangs and gangbanging issue. It is much deeper, to how deeply racist our society is, all around.

    We can have all the programs in the free world, all the understanding white folks in the world, all the tools available to end poverty and help people get housing and jobs….

    ….and it will not matter if we can't get people to participate.

    And we have a society with huge barricades - the primarily-white business world is reluctant or unwilling to hire a black man who hasn't finished HS or college…and even one that HAS.

    And black people are deeply suspicious of white folks (hmm, wonder why) and disregard most opportunities because they wanna "keep it real."

    Yes, the gangbanging activity is intolerable. But I see this as a much bigger issue. This is like Israel and Palestine - just looking at the gunfire isn't an answer, but understand the conflict underneath might be.

  22. JJ, you can make it all racial, but I disagree with your idea that it's the sole reason for gang membership. In Chicago, there are black gangs (what we have in Uptown), Latino gangs, white gangs (Eastern Europeans), and Asian gangs (some of the worst... FBI recently investigated Chinatown's gangs' ties to human smuggling). It's colorblind.

  23. Helen Shiller was,and is, the problem. In my opinion, which is the correct one, her legacy will be the cause of deaths and crime for years to come.

    She concentrated poverty in Uptown, put in no checks and balances, was hostile to the police, and urged,.even encouraged, class warfare and non-cooperation between residents.

    Her legacy was one of hate and entitlement and it will take years to heal and repair. It has begun slowly under Cappleman, but she was in power for 22 years and totally screwed up this area.. it will take some real time to bring Uptown, and its residents, back up to their potential..

  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

  25. uptown superzero, blaming Helen Shiller and promoting the big lie that she 'concentrated' poverty in Uptown is really getting old, it is really just so stupid. But hey, I realize it is more acceptable to openly express hate for Shiller than for the people of color struggling to survive living in poverty, and so, you do. If it is as simple as blaming Helen Shiller for the problems of poverty in Uptown, what individuals are to blame for the poverty and associated social ills that affect large areas of the South and West sides of Chicago, or other urban areas in the U.S.? Hmmm? Englewood has a lot more shootings than Uptown, tell me the one individual who, like Shiller in Uptown according to you, is responsible for that?

  26. I think the problem is right here in the comments section. I see a lot of talk, debate, and discussion, but you're text is not going to make a compelling case to convert a "thug" or "gang-banger." To those of you whom suggest making useful and integrating with your neighbors, I applaud you.

    And if you don't like what some community groups are doing [i.e. Positive Loitering], don't complain about it. Do something that suits your belief in how you can make an impact in promoting safety in the community. Whether or not it "works" those folks taking the time to participate are doing more than you. Start something up. Get involved.

  27. Sean, the fact you are a Shiller supporter and felt the immediate need to start calling me names could not illustrate more what she, and her supporters, did to Uptown... thanks for giving the perfect example of hate that vile woman advocated... Have a good night now!

  28. Does anyone else think that cweetbeat is a woman, and (more important) that her first name is Helen, *and* (most important of all) that her worldview is frozen in 1968? :)

    It's funny (in retrospect, anyway) -- I was one of the thousands on northbound Red Line trains last night. In the tunnel I got out and asked the conductor "WTF? Are they having a shootout up there?" Of course he had no idea at that point.