WBEZ | gang violence http://www.wbez.org/tags/gang-violence Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Amid Growing Youth Violence In Chicago, One Woman Offers A Safety Net http://www.wbez.org/program/weekend-edition/2015-11-23/amid-growing-youth-violence-chicago-one-woman-offers-safety-net <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/diane1edit_custom-d047dcd6695b373dc24bd52889c2fe27c73515d2-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res456781576" previewtitle="The youngest child remembered at Chicago's Roseland neighborhood memorial was just one year old."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="The youngest child remembered at Chicago's Roseland neighborhood memorial was just one year old." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/20/stones3edit_custom-5c7b923c2c79004121b200f7eeb5271f668d7371-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 454px; width: 620px;" title="The youngest child remembered at Chicago's Roseland neighborhood memorial was just one-year-old. (Peter Breslow/NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>In a run-down stretch of Chicago&#39;s South Michigan Avenue, miles from the museums and skyscrapers, an army of foot-high paving stones stand on shelves along the street. It&#39;s a handmade memorial to honor the young people who have died at the hands of the city&#39;s street violence. A name is written on each of the 574 stones.</p></div></div></div><p>But they are not just names to Diane Latiker.</p><p>&quot;This is the first stone that went up, Blair Hope, coming home on the school bus, 14-year-old got on the bus, sprayed the bus, trying to protect his classmate, girls next to him, and he was killed,&quot; Latiker says. &quot;Arthur Jones, 10 years old, going to get some candy. Fred Couch, he got killed a couple of blocks from here.&quot;</p><p>Just last weekend, 20 people were shot in Chicago and one died. The city&#39;s had about a 20 percent increase in shootings and homicides in the first half of this year, and an epidemic of gun violence the past few years. Most of the killings have occurred in neighborhoods on the South Side, most of those victims have been African-American and many have been teenagers and younger.</p><p>On any given day, sirens and shots ring through the night. And in the morning, children, like the bright-eyed and bold 11-year-old boy Amari, often don&#39;t want to walk to school.</p><p>&quot;Somebody, they tried to jump me,&quot; Amari says. &quot;I was walking my little sister. They said they going to kill us and stuff. I don&#39;t know, I think they must have thought I was somebody they was looking for or something.&quot;</p><p>Amari is one of Diane Latiker&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.examiner.com/article/chicago-youth-organization-struggling-to-stay-afloat">Kids Off the Block</a>, a group she began in her home in the city&#39;s Roseland neighborhood in 2003.</p><p>In a neighborhood where people bolt iron doors and lash down their window shades, Latiker opened her door.</p><p>She and her husband have eight children, and she&#39;s become what amounts to an activist mother to her neighborhood. She invites young people into her house, and into her life.</p><p>She says she tries to make a difference with these kids on a personal level.</p><p>&quot;The only way I can help them is if I listen and know what they need,&quot; she says. &quot;Because they have so many issues and I just try to be on the personal side with them. And if a kid needs a coat to go to school, I try to find a coat. If he needs a way back and forth to school because of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-11-18/gang-truces-then-vs-now-113835" target="_blank">gang lines</a>, we gonna take him back and forth to school. We do traditional programs of course, like tutoring and mentoring and conflict resolution stuff like that, but I found out you have to get into their lives. You know, you have to. Because the only way to help them is to realize that they have a life worth living.&quot;</p><div id="res456782016" previewtitle="Anti-violence activist Diane Latiker stands before the memorial for young people lost to violence in Chicago over the last several years. More than 500 stones honor the victims and there are hundreds more that still need to be added."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Anti-violence activist Diane Latiker stands before the memorial for young people lost to violence in Chicago over the last several years. More than 500 stones honor the victims and there are hundreds more that still need to be added." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/20/diane1edit_custom-d047dcd6695b373dc24bd52889c2fe27c73515d2-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 456px; width: 620px;" title="Anti-violence activist Diane Latiker stands before the memorial for young people lost to violence in Chicago over the last several years. More than 500 stones honor the victims and there are hundreds more that still need to be added. (Peter Breslow/NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>In the beginning, she says she took a naïve approach.</p></div></div></div><p>&quot;I thought everybody wanted to help the kids and the young people. So when I invited those kids into our house, I never thought it would go this far. I never thought all those other kids were out there,&quot; she says. &quot;When those kids, the ones I invited to my house, the nine, they went out there and told other kids, &#39;There&#39;s this lady can help,&#39; and they started coming.&quot;</p><p>Latiker works with about 50 kids at the moment. She receives support from local churches, city agencies and neighborhood groups, and has become well-known. The mayor of Chicago has paid his respects. She was one of CNN&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cnn.heroes/archive11/diane.latiker.html" target="_blank">Heroes of the Year in 2011</a>.</p><p>&quot;There are two brothers up here, their mom lost them a week apart,&quot; she says, surrounded by the memorial stones. &quot;Shamiah Adams, 11; Antonio Smith, 9; Devonshay Lofton, 16; They all had lives.&quot;</p><div id="con456884754" previewtitle="related"><div id="res456884790"><div><div>&nbsp;</div></div></div></div><p>She can recall many young people who&#39;ve passed through her home, touched her heart and gone on to success. But she also remembers, just as sharply, a boy named Red who came to her when he was 15. She helped him get a summer job and he did better in school. But Red couldn&#39;t outrun the streets:</p><p>&quot;At 18, he got with the wrong crowd. He started dodging me, I couldn&#39;t find him. Next thing I know he&#39;s robbing people, shooting at people, throwing up gang signs, getting high,&quot; Latiker says. &quot;The last time I saw him was two weeks before he was killed. He said he didn&#39;t want to have anything to do with what I was talking about, he didn&#39;t believe in it. And he rode off.&quot;</p><p>She saw Red once more: dead in the street.</p><p>Now and then, another name rises to the top of the news. Three weeks ago, it was Tyshawn Lee, a 9-year-old boy who was&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-tyshawn-killing-autopsy-results-met-20151118-story.html" target="_blank">lured into an alley and shot at close range</a>. Police say a gang wanted to terrorize Lee&#39;s father, who reputedly belongs to another gang.</p><p>Latiker has seen how gangs have begun to target the families of rivals, a cruelty she says she once thought was too brutal even for gangs.</p><p>&quot;I don&#39;t care how heartless you are, you couldn&#39;t imagine that &#39;I&#39;m risking my mother or that my four-year-old sister or brother is in danger coming from school because I made a decision&#39; &mdash; and you&#39;re still going to stay in it? Knowing that it&#39;s beyond you now and that your family is marked,&quot; she says. &quot;You couldn&#39;t have imagined that.&quot;</p><p>But she did imagine that an empty lot across the street behind all those names on stones could be a basketball court free from drugs and crime. A donor came forward to build it, and the hoops drew boys to her door.</p><p>Today, two 13-year-olds, Jaheim Elliot and Cinque Dunn, will receive Champions for Teens Awards.</p><p>Elliot&#39;s father died about five years ago, of a heart attack. Dunn&#39;s father was shot to death in the street two years ago.</p><p>They&#39;re both 8th graders who found Diane Latiker through playing on her basketball court.</p><p>&quot;I seen a whole full court basketball rim and then when I asked I came across the street and knocked on the door and asked could we play basketball and she said yeah...like a whole group of us ready to play basketball ... And she said we could come up here any time.&quot;</p><p>And they say she&#39;s helped a lot.</p><p>&quot;Diana&#39;s a grandma to me. She treat me like a grandma.&quot;</p><p>&quot;She takes care of us,&quot; &shy;&shy;Elliot agrees.</p><p>Their words touch Latiker.</p><p>&quot;When I&#39;m around Miss Diane I feel safe.&quot;</p><p>And they say she&#39;s helped a lot &mdash; that she&#39;s like a grandmother to them.</p><p>The boys and their friends play on as the sun comes down, and Diane Latiker looks on.</p><p>She has to add another 500 stones to the shelves on this lot, with more names of children who have died in Chicago&#39;s gun violence.</p><p>But for a moment she gets to watch five boys who have knocked on her door run, laugh and feel safe enough just to play basketball.</p></p> Mon, 23 Nov 2015 10:42:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/program/weekend-edition/2015-11-23/amid-growing-youth-violence-chicago-one-woman-offers-safety-net Morning Shift: November 18, 2015 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-11-18/morning-shift-november-18-2015-113836 <p><p>The murder of Tyshawn Lee on November 2 shocked the entire city. The nine year old boy, a fourth-grader, was gunned down, execution-style. Police say his murder was part of a series of gang-related retribution killings. That has a lot of Chicagoans wondering how to reduce gang violence, perhaps through a ceasefire of some kind. But <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-11-18/gang-truces-then-vs-now-113835">could a gang truce even be brokered</a> in 2015? An author joins us to look back at two gang truces from Chicago history. And, we ask two former gang officials whether there&rsquo;s anything we can learn from a truce they helped broker back in 1993.</p><p>Plus, the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-11-18/%E2%80%9Cstate-literacy-symposium%E2%80%9D-strives-improve-literacy-113834">state of literacy</a> is the topic of discussion Thursday at Chicago&rsquo;s first ever Literacy Symposium. We talk with two of the organizers and get some advice on how to make better readers of adults and children.</p><p>And we get a preview of this week&rsquo;s<a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-11-18/reclaimed-soul-preview-1960s-chicago-rock-113832"> Reclaimed Soul</a>, the Thursday night soul music love fest on our sister station, Vocalo.</p></p> Wed, 18 Nov 2015 11:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-11-18/morning-shift-november-18-2015-113836 When social media fuels gang violence http://www.wbez.org/news/when-social-media-fuels-gang-violence-113212 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/7910370882_39d180fb66_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have become an everyday part of life for many young people &mdash; and increasingly, the way some, including rival gang members, threaten each other.</p><p>The practice is called &quot;cyber banging,&quot; and it&#39;s often led to fights and even death.</p><p>Jaime, 17, has been in a gang for two years and is trying to leave. NPR agreed to use only his first name for his safety. Logging onto a computer at the YMCA of Metro Chicago, he clicks on a video in his Facebook feed. It shows a group of young men mugging for the camera, flashing gang signs and guns. Jaime says it&#39;s one of many so-called gang pages online.</p><p>&quot;Social media is just endorsement, that&#39;s all,&quot; he says. &quot;To endorse where you come from, what gang you are in.&quot;</p><p>He points to one of the men who pushed his way to the front of the video for a just a moment. &quot;He got killed a week after [by] the rival gang. It was crazy, and now people actually make pictures making fun of him,&quot; Jaime says.</p><p>He says there will be retaliation over that disrespect. Using social media to gang bang reaches across all platforms. There is still rancor in some Chicago neighborhoods over a long-running feud on Twitter between Chicago rappers Chief Keef and Lil JoJo, both associated with rival gangs. Three years ago, shortly after Lil JoJo issued a taunt along with his location, he was killed.</p><p>This year, police say cyber banging fueled the death of another Chicago rapper.</p><p>Shaquon Thomas was called Young Pappy. On YouTube, there have been nearly 2 million views of his song &quot;Killa,&quot; which glorifies gang life and violence. He was gunned down in May.</p><p>Eddie Bocanegra, a co-director of Metro Chicago YMCA&#39;s Youth Safety and Violence Prevention program, says gang banging on social media for some is a way to get street credibility. Others that post gang raps think it&#39;s a way to make it big in the music industry, where dark and violent lyrics &mdash; so-called &quot;drill music&quot; &mdash; sells. But Bocanegra says the potential for violence spurred by social media extends even to those not in gangs.</p><p>&quot;This kid could simply say, &#39;Hey, I was in class today, and the girl next to me was really cute. Her name is so and so. I thought she was fine,&#39; &quot; he says. &quot;Well, this girl has a brother who is in the street who really already has a reputation of being violent or has a boyfriend, and he sees that post. Now it&#39;s like, &#39;Hey, why you making comments about my girl?&#39; &#39;Why you making comments about my sister?&#39; And it just escalates.&quot;</p><p>Chicago police do monitor social media sites, and they&#39;ve been able to work with school social workers to prevent some violence from occurring. Desmond Patton, a professor of social work at Columbia University, says he and fellow researchers want to take those efforts a step further.</p><p>&quot;One idea is that if we can decode the language, then perhaps we can send triggers to social workers, violence workers who are embedded in these neighborhoods already, so that they can utilize the strategies they already have to reach out to youth before the post becomes an injury or homicide,&quot; Patton says.</p><p>Patton conducted what he calls an &quot;Internet banging study.&quot; He interviewed current or former gang members between the ages of 14 and 24 in some of Chicago&#39;s toughest neighborhoods. He asked them what they see on social media, how they use it, how they believe it connects to violence in the neighborhood, and, he says, &quot;under what conditions are they responding to situations and posts online that they believe to be threatening.&quot;</p><p>One of the scientists working with Patton to create a cyber banging gauge is Henry Lieberman, a visiting professor at MIT&#39;s Media Lab. He plans to devise an algorithm to understand content on social media and how words turn to violence.</p><p>&quot;You want to be able to recognize patterns like that and then you can suggest to people to try to do things that de-escalate the situation,&quot; Lieberman says.</p><p>Meantime, Patton says there is much more to come, including more interviews and scientific testing, in the quest to use social media that&#39;s so essential to young people to curb gang violence.</p><p><em>&mdash; via <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2015/10/07/446300514/when-social-media-fuels-gang-violence">NPR&#39;s All Tech Considered</a></em></p></p> Wed, 07 Oct 2015 09:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/when-social-media-fuels-gang-violence-113212 Daley Academy students illustrate effects of gun violence http://www.wbez.org/news/daley-academy-students-illustrate-effects-gun-violence-109013 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 5.29.18 PM.png" alt="" /><p><p>On September 19th, 2013, 13 people were wounded in a shooting at Cornell Square Park in Chicago&#39;s Back of the Yards neighborhood. Directly across from that park is Richard J. Daley Elementary Academy &mdash; a school that&#39;s been affected by gun violence not just in the park, but all over the neighborhood.</p><p>This week, Daley Academy hosted a special art show in partnership with the Illinois Coalition against Handgun Violence. WBEZ Reporter Lauren Chooljian visited the one-day-only exhibit, where a group of 25 seventh graders stood proudly behind their works, done in marker and ink, and all inspired by gun violence.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/lchooljian-0">Lauren Chooljian</a> is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a>.</p></p> Fri, 25 Oct 2013 17:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/daley-academy-students-illustrate-effects-gun-violence-109013 Violence in the streets can start in the home http://www.wbez.org/news/violence-streets-can-start-home-107225 <p><p>Ubaldina is a mother of six, who works the night shift at a packing company so she can be there when her kids come home from school.</p><p>She&rsquo;s raising her kids alone now. She said her husband abused her verbally and physically almost every weekend.</p><p>&ldquo;He came home drunk one day,&rdquo; Ubaldina said. &ldquo;I was pregnant with my 12-year-old. And the police came home and arrested him because they found him hitting me. I was on the floor with my face covered in blood.&rdquo;</p><p>Ubaldina said she didn&rsquo;t have the strength to end the relationship, until her husband tried to abuse her oldest daughter.</p><p>&ldquo;I woke up,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;I didn&#39;t make any noise or turn on the lights. I was going to the bathroom and everything was dark. I went back and heard my daughter&rsquo;s bed moving and that&rsquo;s when I opened the door and I found him there, but my daughter had no clothes on.&rdquo;</p><p>All of her children slept in that bedroom. They watched what happened next.</p><p>&ldquo;I took him out of the room,&rdquo; Ubaldina said. &ldquo; I slapped him in the face twice and pushed him out. I was so angry that I remember going to the kitchen sink and grabbing a knife. I wanted to kill him.&rdquo;</p><p>Ubaldina took her kids out of their house and waved down a cop car. Juvenal, her oldest son who is now 16, was terrified.</p><p>&ldquo;That really got to me. I wanted to like, already be grown so I could beat up my dad. I wanted to beat him up, and I got so mad.&rdquo; Juvenal said.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/BOTY%20Photos%20by%20Bill%20Healy%20016%20.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 350px; float: right;" title="An altar made with stuffed animals, candles and a bottle of vodka memorializes a young man who was shot. Violence prevention groups are trying to stop violence in the home before it erupts in the streets. (WBEZ/Bill Healy)" />His dad was arrested, convicted and is still in prison. Ubaldina said her kids got some counseling at the time, but nothing to deal with all the domestic violence they witnessed at home.&nbsp;</p><p>Today, eight years later, Juvenal and his younger sister still struggle with anger. They&rsquo;ve both been arrested for getting into fights at school.</p><p>&ldquo;My anger is like when you feel the blood is coming up to your head and is not working back now. You get this nervous feeling and your hands ball up,&rdquo; Juvenal said.</p><p>Experts say that anger can lead to violence on the streets if youth, like Juvenal, have ties to local gangs. They&rsquo;re finding a link between domestic violence and youth involvement in gangs that goes largely unreported.</p><p>&ldquo;Domestic violence is basically at the root of much of the violence that we see here in the streets,&rdquo; said Father Dave Kelly of Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation. He teaches at-risk youth -- even rival gang members -- how to resolve their disputes peacefully.</p><p>&ldquo;Most of the kids whom we deal with, youth who are locked up, speak of the violence they had to endure a big part of their life,&rdquo; Father Kelly said.</p><p>Several other agencies say they&rsquo;re seeing the same pattern.</p><p>CeaseFire Illinois, the local branch of Cure Violence, tries to &ldquo;interrupt&rdquo; violence before it erupts in the streets. More and more, leaders there say, they&rsquo;re being asked to intercede in homes, too.</p><p>But there&rsquo;s no single way to measure how big the problem is in Chicago. The Chicago Division of Domestic Violence said it doesn&rsquo;t collect data on the number of minors who witness violence at home. They referred me to the Chicago Office of Violence Prevention, which doesn&rsquo;t collect such data either.</p><p>&ldquo;The primary challenge is to find a unique way to count children,&rdquo; said Chicago Office of Violence Prevention Director Marlita White. &ldquo;That is going to continue to be a difficult thing, because you are dependent on internal resources of very different departments. And often times you have a child who may be exposed to domestic violence, but also to community violence or to child abuse or neglect.&rdquo;</p><p>The Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority collects some data from state-funded domestic violence programs. They said of the 22 state-funded domestic violence organizations in Chicago, more than 11,000 victims of domestic violence sought services last year. Those clients had a total of more than 20,000 children, but only 1,348 of them were identified as witnesses of domestic violence, and also received some type of supportive service.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/BOTY%20Photos%20by%20Bill%20Healy%20011%20.jpg" style="float: left; height: 233px; width: 350px;" title="Residents walk in Juvenal’s neighborhood. The teen witnessed domestic violence, and now his mom says he needs counseling to deal with the trauma. (Bill Healy/WBEZ)" />Domestic violence groups said victims of domestic violence like Ubaldina are often afraid to come forward themselves. They&rsquo;re also hesitant to acknowledge their kids witnessed the violence and are in need of services. The leaders of those groups said there is no uniform intake form that asks that information.</p><p>Some of those agencies like Mujeres Latinas en Accion are starting to identify and treat these young people, but they lack resources and can serve only small pockets of the population. But even when the resources are there, it can be hard to fight the influence of gangs over kids like Juvenal who have seen violence at home.</p><p>Juvenal said if he has trouble at home or if he&rsquo;s being bullied and no one is around to protect him, the gangs are there.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s easy man. It&rsquo;s really easy. If what you need is protection, they are gonna throw it at you,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>His mom said the gangs have been after him since he was 13.&nbsp; He also has cousins who are already gang members.</p><p>What stands between Juvenal and the gangs is the aid of one cop.</p><p>Officer Rafael Yañez mentors Juvenal and other at-risk youth. He founded an organization called Union Impact Center that provides after-school sports and mentoring.</p><p>On his own time, Yañez picks up Juvenal and his sisters every Saturday and drives them to a local gym.</p><p>&ldquo;He is running away from the problems and the male figures and the real role models that he has are not the most positive ones, but are the only ones there,&rdquo; Yañez said.</p><p>Juvenal sits up front so they can talk. Juvenal tells Yañez his plans of building a recording studio in his room. At the gym, they talk about the importance of keeping good grades for college and, as usual, they play ball.</p><p>Yañez said it&rsquo;s hard for Juvenal to control his anger and that gets him in trouble.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;There was a time where I had to be in his high school, I was called by the principal maybe every week. Sometimes every other day to come and talk to him about his behavior,&rdquo; he said, adding that&rsquo;s slowed down since the pair started working together.</p><p>And he said Juvenal&rsquo;s mom, Ubaldina, calls him when her son comes home late or breaks the rules.</p><p>&ldquo;I prayed to God so my kid would not accept to join the gangs,&rdquo; Ubaldina said.</p><p>Despite all of this support, there are ongoing pressures for Juvenal. His family lives in a crowded apartment. The TV is always on, and his younger siblings play everywhere.</p><p>At home he loses his temper easily. Ubaldina worries because her son is growing up without a father. And if he wants to go out, the gangs are right there.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;My perimeter is where I live and how I get to school, that&rsquo;s it. You know like sometimes I get mad because I can&rsquo;t go places that some of my friends can go to,&rdquo; Juvenal said.</p><p>He lives with a constant reminder of the looming violence just across the street. It&rsquo;s a memorial made of stuffed animals and beer cans.</p><p>A young man* who lives nearby stooped to clear garbage away from it and said the altar&rsquo;s there to remember a friend who was shot three years ago, on Thanksgiving.</p><p>&ldquo;All his friends gathered up before going back to their families for Thanksgiving and I guess they thought they were gangbangers and started shooting at the group, and he is the one that got shot,&rdquo; the neighborhood resident said.&nbsp;</p><p>So Juvenal sees this every day. And he said he stays inside as much as he can. He&rsquo;s trying to figure out how to build that recording studio in his bedroom using foam and cardboard.</p><p>But the lure of the streets is evident even in his favorite rap tune, &ldquo;Knuck if You Buck.&rdquo; He likes the song because he said it reminds him to always stand strong.</p><p>But even though Juvenal&rsquo;s trying to stay out of a gang, he knows one more fight could change everything. If he joins, he said he&rsquo;ll have to get tattooed, carry their guns and sell their drugs.</p><p>When I ask Juvenal where he sees himself in five years, he said he isn&rsquo;t sure if he&rsquo;ll even make it that far.&nbsp;</p><p><em>*Name withheld by WBEZ to protect the family&rsquo;s confidentiality. And&nbsp;WBEZ isn&rsquo;t using the last names of the family in this story to protect their confidentiality, given the nature of the abuse.</em></p></p> Fri, 17 May 2013 07:51:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/violence-streets-can-start-home-107225 Chicago firefighters asked to guard school routes http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-firefighters-asked-guard-school-routes-107172 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/fire_smaedli.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago firefighters are being asked to establish a visible presence on the streets during the first three weeks of the new school year, when dozens of schools are slated to close.</p><p>The closures have parents worried that many children will have to traverse dangerous areas to get to their new schools. The school district and police have been working to create safe routes.</p><p>Now firefighters have been asked to help.</p><p>Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago says in memo that &quot;during specific hours of the day, all companies will be on the routes.&quot;</p><p>The idea is to make parents and children feel safe.</p><p>But the firefighters union is concerned that if violence breaks out its members could be thrust into a role for which they are not trained or equipped.</p></p> Wed, 15 May 2013 09:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-firefighters-asked-guard-school-routes-107172 Chicago remembers teen victim of city gun violence http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-remembers-teen-victim-city-gun-violence-105447 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Funeral2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Hundreds of mourners and dignitaries, including first lady Michelle Obama, stood and applauded the family of a 15-year-old Chicago girl for their strength Saturday, a week and a half after her death brought national attention to the city&#39;s staggering gun violence.</p><p>One speaker after another at Saturday&#39;s funeral remembered Hadiya Pendleton as more than a symbol, but as a girl who had dreams, joked with her friends and loved school and performing as a majorette with the group that performed at events surrounding President Barack Obama&#39;s inauguration just days before her death on Jan. 29. Police say Pendleton was an innocent victim in a gang-related shooting.</p><p><span id="_oneup">Her godfather, Damon Stewart, said some people on Facebook had asked what made Hadiya&#39;s death noteworthy when more than 40 people had already been slain in Chicago this year &mdash; many without so much as a mention in local newspapers. The answer, Stewart told the packed South Side church, was obvious.</span></p><p><span id="_oneup">&quot;She&#39;s important because all those other people who died are important,&quot; Stewart said. &quot;She&#39;s important because all of those lives and voices of those families who were ignored, she now speaks for them. ... I don&#39;t believe in coincidence. God needed an angel. God needed to send somebody for us to change.&quot;</span></p><p><span id="_oneup">Michelle Obama met privately with the family before the service and then accompanied the girl&#39;s mother to the open casket at the front of the church. Obama, who grew up on Chicago&#39;s South Side, put her arm around Cleopatra Pendleton and patted her back. The woman threw her head back and wailed as the lid of her daughter&#39;s flower-strewn casket was closed.</span></p><p><span id="_oneup">Moments later, the hundreds in attendance rose to their feet to begin the service with a round of applause &quot;to the strength of this family.&quot; Then, the choir began to sing so loud the floor shook.</span></p><p><span id="_oneup">Some of Illinois</span>&#39; most recognizable politicians and clergy were in attendance, including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush and the Rev. Jesse Jackson. But Pendleton&#39;s family says her Saturday funeral service was not about politics &mdash; it was about remembering a girl who loved to dance, who once appeared in an anti-gang video.</p><p><span id="_oneup">None of the dignitaries was slated to speak Saturday. Instead, close friends, holding back tears, got up to remember her. One of them said she felt Hadiya was &quot;still here with us, whispering the answers in chemistry.&quot; The captain of the King College Prep majorettes presented Cleopatra Pendleton with her team jacket.</span></p><p><span id="_oneup">Father Michael Pfleger, a prominent Chicago pastor, said Hadiya was the face of an &quot;epidemic of violence causing funeral processions around the country.&quot;</span></p><p><span id="_oneup">&quot;Sisters and brothers, I beg you,&quot; he said. &quot;We must become like Jesus. We must become the interrupters of funeral processions.&quot;</span></p><p><span id="_oneup">Pendleton was shot and killed while she talked with friends after school at a park not far from the Obamas&#39; home in the Kenwood neighborhood. Police have said the shooting appears to be a case of mistaken identity involving gang members who believed the park was their territory. No charges have been filed.</span></p><p><span id="_oneup">Pendleton&#39;s death brought new attention to Chicago&#39;s homicide rate and the national debate over gun violence. Pendleton&#39;s slaying came in a January that was the city&#39;s deadliest in a decade. In 2012, Chicago recorded 506 homicides.</span></p><p><span id="_oneup">A glossy, eight-page funeral program included photos of Pendleton and details about her life, including her favorite foods &mdash; cheeseburgers, fig cookies, Chinese and ice cream &mdash; and the numerous school organizations she was involved in. The program also included a copy of a handwritten note from President Obama addressed to the girl&#39;s family.</span></p><p><span id="_oneup">&quot;Michelle and I just wanted you to know how heartbroken we are to have heard about Hadiya&#39;s passing,&quot; it reads. &quot;We know that no words from us can soothe the pain, but rest assured that we are praying for you, and that we will continue to work as hard as we can to end this senseless violence. God bless, Barack Obama.&quot;</span></p><p><span id="_oneup">Other dignitaries at the service were Gov. Pat Quinn, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett &mdash; all of whom are from Chicago.</span></p><p><span id="_oneup">Quinn mentioned Pendleton&#39;s death in his State of the State address earlier this week as he called for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.</span></p><p><span id="_oneup">&quot;There are no words in the English language . or any language . to relieve the pain of parents who lose a child,&quot; Quinn said.</span></p></p> Sat, 09 Feb 2013 13:23:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-remembers-teen-victim-city-gun-violence-105447 Chicago Crime Commission calls for 1,400 more cops http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-crime-commission-calls-1400-more-cops-102671 <p><p>There are many ideas swirling from aldermen, religious leaders and community groups about how to address gang violence. The Chicago Crime Commission joined the conversation Tuesday with their own recommendations, which quickly garnered the support of the Fraternal Order of Police.</p><p>The commission&#39;s plan is twofold: First, they want the city to hire 1400 more police officers immediately. According to members, their calculations came from comparing the number of sworn officers working in patrol operations with the number of established beats and norms for police patrol manpower across the country.&nbsp;</p><p>Second, they said the&nbsp;US District Attorney and the Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney should help train Chicago police to prosecute armed gang members under federal laws.&nbsp;</p><p>Commission board member Peter Bensinger says they want gang members locked up in federal prisons.<br /><br />&quot;It&rsquo;s a different story. It&rsquo;s different time, harder time, further away from their cohorts and their gangs,&quot; Bensinger said.&nbsp;<br /><br />As for how to fund this plan, Bensinger and other members say that&#39;s not their job. &nbsp;</p><p>&quot;The Crime Commission here is not going to respond to &#39;how do you address the payroll or the budget problems for these additional policemen&#39;. That&#39;s up to the mayor, the city council and our greater community. And we wouldn&#39;t be doing our job if we had to comment on how many police officers can you afford,&quot; Bensiger said.&nbsp;</p><p>Pat Camden, spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Police, said he thinks Chicagoans would be willing to foot the bill for the commission&#39;s plan.&nbsp;<br /><br />&quot;It becomes an issue that &lsquo;we&rsquo;re not going to raise property taxes, we&rsquo;re not going to do this.&rsquo; By not raising property taxes, put us in this situation to begin with,&quot; Camden said.&nbsp;<br /><br />Camden said he supports the Crime Commission&rsquo;s recommendation wholeheartedly.<br /><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 26 Sep 2012 05:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-crime-commission-calls-1400-more-cops-102671 Aurora combats gang violence with a new special prosecutor http://www.wbez.org/story/aurora-combats-gang-violence-new-special-prosecutor-91056 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-25/latin kings_flickr_nvaughn.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The city of Aurora, Illinois has gotten a new $60,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to help pay for a special prosecutor who will go after street gangs. He or she will file civil lawsuits against Aurora's known gang members to stop them from gathering or wearing certain colors.</p><p>Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon said the position will help the police department use new methods to combat gang violence. "They have the ability to make an on-scene arrest, which then can lead to the removal of weapons or illegal street drugs, as opposed to waiting for the gang member to use that weapon or to deal that drug," said McMahon.</p><p>McMahon believes the city has done a good job preventing gang activity, but this hire is "another step we can take."&nbsp;</p><p>Aurora doesn't track gang related activity, however, <a href="http://www.aurora-il.org/detail_news.php?newsDateID=823">crime records</a> for 2010 show an 11 percent decrease in overall crime from the year before.</p><p>"This is certainly not a one-year project. This is a step in a long-term approach to getting gangs to stop expanding in and around the city of Aurora," said McMahon, citing the nearby city of Elgin, which has received a similar grant.</p><p>According to <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-01-17/news/ct-met-street-gang-lawsuits-0118-20110117_1_gang-members-gang-activity-satan-disciples">the Chicago Tribune</a>, since <a href="http://law.justia.com/codes/illinois/2005/chapter57/2052.html">a 1993 law</a> passed allowing injunctions against against gang members, suits have increased in Illinois, and in the greater Chicago area. The <a href="http://www.aclunc.org/issues/criminal_justice/facts_about_recent_gang_injunctions.shtml">popularity of injunctions in California</a> has prompted the American Civil Liberties Union to become heavily involved in combatting what they see as a racially targeted and ineffective method of reducing gang violence. Ed Yohnka, Director of Communications and Public Policy for&nbsp;the ACLU-IL, said that the issue was not one that had yet been heavily targeted by his branch.</p></p> Thu, 25 Aug 2011 18:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/aurora-combats-gang-violence-new-special-prosecutor-91056