Residents, city officials take back streets

By The Columbia Chronicle

With the number of homicides in Chicago topping 400 deaths on Sept. 29, city leaders organized a rally against violence in the 31st Ward in conjunction with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Alderman Ray Suarez.

At the head of the march were Emanuel, State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, Chicago Police Department Superintendent Garry McCarthy and Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard. After parents, teachers and children of the 31st Ward expressed frustration at the lack of cooperation between communities and the CPD, the city officals agreed to join

the event.

During the march from Schubert Elementary School, 2727 N. Long Ave., to Falconer Elementary School, 3020 N. Lamon Ave., the crowd chanted, “Up with hope, down with dope” and “Save our children, stop the shootings.”

“These streets of this block [and] this city belong to the residents of the city of Chicago,” Emanuel said. “The first part of community policing is developing that sense of community. Police officers need residents as partners, and that is how we turn around a city to make it safe for our residents. It’s how we make sure our schools are getting actively involved in preventing violence.”

According to a report from Neighborhood Scout, an organization that compiles data about Chicago crime, there have been 432 homicides in the city so far in 2012, and the total is quickly reaching the 599 deaths recorded in 2003. The report suggested that Chicagoans have a 1 in 18 chance of being a victim of a violent crime.

McCarthy said one problem facing the CPD is community members’ hesitance to provide witness information and criminal leads for fear of suffering the consequences of being called a snitch. According to McCarthy, the community must work with the CPD to solve issues quickly and efficiently.

“This is so important to have a large turnout from the community because the police department can’t do it alone,” McCarthy said. “We need community members to be coming forward.”

Emanuel said the only solution to violence is a strong network of community members and activists pushing gang activity away from apartment complexes where landlords live offsite. He added that weeding out shady property owners is key, along with demolishing vacant buildings where gang activity thrives.

“We have to be part of the solution,” Suarez said. “When you see something, say something, because we cannot stay quiet. We must get involved. Four hundred homicides is unacceptable in any city. We need to stop the senseless violence.”

McCarthy emphasized that violence prevention must include heavy parental involvement, and cited the recent case of a

14-year-old who was arrested on gun possession charges.

“Ask where your child is going after 9 p.m.,” Brizard said. “Make sure that you can communicate with them to become involved in their lives and make sure that you know what they are doing after school.”

“This march is about the young people here today,” Suarez said. “We want to make sure that everyone understands how important it is to have safe, crime free neighborhoods and crime free schools. We need to make sure that the parents start showing their children that a safe environment can only be achieved with a whole community effort.”

“We have to be part of the solution,” Suarez said. “When you see something, say something, because we cannot stay quiet. We must get involved. Four-hundred homicides [are] unacceptable in any city. We need to stop the senseless violence.”

McCarthy emphasized that violence prevention must include heavy parental involvement, and cited the case of a 14-year-old who was recently arrested on charges of gun possession.

“Ask where your child is going after 9 p.m.,” Brizard said. “Make sure you can communicate with them to become involved in their lives, and make sure you know what they are doing after school.”

Suarez said the march is about getting young people aware and involved with their communities and making sure emphasis is put on the importance of having safer neighborhoods free of violent crimes.

“We need to make sure that the parents start showing their children that a safe environment can only be achieved with a whole community effort,” Suarez said.

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