Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Crime Next Door

The Sun-Times is running an article this weekend about what happens when violence hits close to home for Chicago's aldermen.  They discovered that ten City Council members live within two blocks of where gang murders and shootings have taken place in the past year, including Ald. Cappleman.
"The Chicago Sun-Times took a look at murders and shootings in the city over a span of 13 months beginning in June 2011 and found at least three instances of such violence within two city blocks of where 10 Chicago aldermen live — one out of five members of the City Council."
In actuality, Uptown is having fewer murders and fewer shootings than in years past, but the previous 46th Ward alderman lived in Andersonville, on a leafy street far from where three gangs have been shooting each other over territory for years. The current alderman, like many of us, lives in the thick of it.
Ald. James Cappleman lives with his partner, Richard Thale, in Uptown a short walk from the Aragon Ballroom and the area Mayor Rahm Emanuel hopes one day will become a rock ’n’ roll tourist mecca. It’s just as close to a shooting gallery of warring gangs.

In the immediate vicinity of their elegant, century-old condo, there have been nine shootings and two murders since the summer of 2011. That’s more violence close to home than for any other Chicago alderman outside of Englewood.

That amounts to nearly half the shootings and one-third of the murders in Cappleman’s entire North Side ward, where the police say three gangs battle for turf amid a highly visible population of public drinkers, aggressive panhandlers and drug addicts, many of whom suffer from mental illness.

Cappleman (46th) and Thale moved to Uptown in 1999. Their first summer, a stray bullet ricocheted off a Dumpster as the couple walked their black Labrador nearby. That was one of the things that pushed Cappleman, a former social worker, and Thale to become community activists. “Bullets missed us by a couple of feet,” Cappleman says. “Kids were telling everybody to run and duck. So we ran in the alley to escape.”

Things haven’t changed much near the house they’ve shared for eight years. Last Dec. 4, about a block from their home, a drive-by shooting took the life of 20-year-old Edward Clark. On June 18, 19-year-old Henry Soyege was killed in what the police called a gang-related shooting nearby. On Aug. 24, Cappleman got chased by a woman he claims had a knife.

“There have been times I’ve panicked,” Cappleman says. “I don’t want people to think the area isn’t safe and they move out. But if I don’t feel safe walking home, I’ll go into a store.”

The alderman looks at his partner and says, “It’s more I’m panicking about you.”

Still, Cappleman confronts gang-bangers. And he calls the police when he sees drug deals going down. “I’ve gone up to P-stones and said, ‘Will you make me a promise, no shootings today?’ ” Cappleman says. “... I don’t approach people in gangs as evil. But I’m not going to tolerate this violence. And they know that.”
The entire article is here, and we encourage you to read it while it's still up on the Sun-Times' website. We are particularly impressed by the words of Ald. Toni Foulkes, who experienced two murders and 11 shootings within two blocks of her home:
“It’s your son out there, and he’s a gang-banger with a gun on him,” Foulkes says. “How is that my fault? I didn’t raise him. I just get pissed off when they say, ‘Where are these no-good aldermen?’ I’m like, ‘Hey, we’re living in this environment, too.’"

1 comment:

  1. I like this article because these alderman (atleast cappleman) are standing up for their neighborhood and the squeaky wheel gets the grease. And now the wheel is getting pretty darn squeaky, and thats the only way things change.