WBEZ | graffiti http://www.wbez.org/tags/graffiti Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Try to do something nice—and face a year in jail http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-08/try-do-something-nice%E2%80%94and-face-year-jail-110667 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/DARREN ROBBINS 2.jpg" title="Darren Robbins (photo courtesy Darren Robbins)" /></div></div><p>Though he&rsquo;s been living in a small town in Southwestern Michigan for the last few years, Darren Robbins is a familiar face in the Chicago music scene. The 48-year-old musician was the long-time leader of <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2008-11-14/entertainment/0811120110_1_clive-davis-bomb-stage-fright">Time Bomb Symphony</a>, a band that flirted with major-label success, and he still handles social media for <a href="http://superiorst.com/">Superior St. Rehearsal Studios</a>, which means that a heck of a lot of local artists hear from him regularly.</p><p>Robbins also is a cancer survivor; the former owner of a successful T-shirt business who was profiled in <em><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/28/business/smallbusiness/28sbiz.html?_r=1&amp;adxnnl=1&amp;pagewanted=all&amp;adxnnlx=1408302181-u007bJyWozAGdjeUUcUSYQ">The New York Times</a>,</em> and a popular street artist who, inspired by Shepard Fairey and using the name <a href="http://www.lemmycornhole.com/">Lemmy Cornhole</a>, does a booming business selling cornhole boards and T-shirts adorned with the face of Marty Feldman in <em>Young Frankenstein. </em>He admits he also on occasion decorates skate parks and other spaces&mdash;when he&rsquo;s specifically invited by the property owners.</p><p>What Robbins is not is a reckless, property-trashing tagger, much less a menace to society. Yet the police in Dowagiac and the prosecutor in Cass County, Michigan are doing their best to demonize him as such, and they seem determined to punish him for &ldquo;Malicious Destruction of a Building, less than $200,&rdquo; which he was told at arraignment carries a maximum sentence of up to a year in jail and $2,000 in fines (penalties that are confirmed <a href="http://www.criminalpropertydamage.com/michigan/">by a state website</a>).</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/MARTY_be_original.jpg" style="height: 432px; width: 450px;" title="" /></div><p>The trouble started on July 23 when Robbins, with the best of intentions, sprayed the message &ldquo;I love you Jolene&rdquo; on the side of a vacant building that happened to be on the route his friend had to take to the hospital to receive treatment for breast cancer. Here&rsquo;s how he tells the story:</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;I was not thinking of myself, but of the fear and loneliness that she must have been feeling in those early morning hours. As a longtime romantic at heart, I have long been a fan of grand gestures, and I couldn&rsquo;t help ask myself, &lsquo;What would Lloyd Dobler do?&rsquo; Dobler, of course, was the teenage protagonist in the film <em>Say Anything</em>...</p><p>&ldquo;Whatever I was going to do, I knew it had to be big&mdash;something that there would be very little chance of missing as she drove by. A cheap can of spray paint would have done the trick, but that would have been permanent. Instead, I opted to spend 10 times what a can of spray paint cost and procured a few cans of marking chalk. I then spent a few days spraying the chalk on a multitude of surfaces to determine which was the most temporary and easiest to remove. Of the three brands I purchased, Krylon came off with a water hose, or a bucket of water and a brush. Worst-case scenario, the chalk disappears in the first rain storm, or fades altogether in a few weeks.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Krylon.jpg" style="height: 1000px; width: 300px;" title="Says the manufacturer: Provides excellent temporary marking... easily removed from hard surfaces." /></div></div><p>&ldquo;Knowing my friend had to be at the hospital by 6 a.m., I left the message around 3 a.m. and promptly fell into bed around 4 a.m. with the intent of removing the message when I awoke. Of course, I never got the chance, because my slumber was interrupted by a visit from the police.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>Robbins has had many a sleepless night since his arrest contemplating the ramifications of what seems like over-zealous small-town justice. All that <a href="http://www.casscoprosecutor.com/Prosecutor">Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz</a> will say on the record is that he cannot comment on ongoing prosecutions. But local law enforcement is doing their best to spin a very different story from the one Robbins tells.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Victor-Fitz.jpg" style="height: 408px; width: 450px;" title="Victor Fitz (Cass County Prosecutor's Office)." /></div><p>Officials portray Robbins as a &ldquo;stalker&rdquo; whose message to Jolene was most unwelcome; they add that the woman barely knows him, and doesn&rsquo;t even have cancer. They also say he&rsquo;s &ldquo;been tagging all over town,&rdquo; and that the punishment they&rsquo;re seeking is so stiff because he has a prior conviction in 2005 for tagging.</p><p>&ldquo;I was able to get the guy from the TV station to tell me what they told him and, believe me, it took me aback,&rdquo; Robbins says. &ldquo;But it did make me see exactly how comfortable they are in feeding half-truths to the media to scare off any press scrutiny.&rdquo;</p><p>In fact, Robbins says the 2005 conviction actually stems from a traffic accident in a neighboring town, and that Dowagiac officials &ldquo;have credited me with every unsolved tag or act of vandalism in this town from the dawn of time in hopes of getting the big one&rdquo;&mdash;the Jolene message and malicious destruction of a building&mdash;&ldquo;to stick.&rdquo;</p><p>As for Jolene, whose last name is being withheld in this report out of respect for her privacy, stalking is the last thing Robbins&rsquo; message brings to mind, and she is indeed battling cancer.</p><p>&ldquo;All I know is that I love what Darren did for me,&rdquo; she told me. &ldquo;How can anyone see saying &lsquo;I love you&rsquo; as a bad thing? I was in such a bad place&mdash;some days I still am&mdash;but when I think of seeing that message, I still get goose bumps. He is someone I love having in my corner.&rdquo;</p><p>Meanwhile, Robbins is angry&mdash;and worried.</p><p>&ldquo;I have come to realize that there is no end to the strong-armed idiocy displayed by prosecutors and law enforcement alike across the country,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m not a teenage gang-banger, but a 48-year-old business man, musician, and artist who never thought a simple message in chalk could send me to jail for a year.&quot;</p><p>Indeed, his crime, if it is one, seems more akin to what kids regularly do with chalk in the school yard. But this ain&#39;t child&rsquo;s play: Robbins is due in court in Cassopolis, Michigan for a pre-trial conference on Sept. 22, with his jury trial scheduled to start at 9 a.m. the next morning.</p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong> and </strong></em><a href="http://jimcarmeltvdinner.libsyn.com/"><strong>Jim + Carmel&rsquo;s TV + Dinner</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Mon, 18 Aug 2014 06:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-08/try-do-something-nice%E2%80%94and-face-year-jail-110667 What I See: Katie Prout http://www.wbez.org/sections/art/what-i-see-katie-prout-108221 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/katie thumbnail.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Katie Prout is a writer, runner and storyteller living in Humboldt Park. Here, she documents one of her late afternoon runs on Chicago&#39;s West Side.</p><p>&quot;In every town and every city I&#39;ve ever lived in, I&#39;ve ran,&quot; she says. &quot;I think it&#39;s a wonderful way to get to know the area and the people and it takes me down a lot of unexpected side streets and roads. It shows me a lot of beautiful and, sometimes, sad things that I wouldn&#39;t have necessarily seen otherwise.&quot;</p><p>You can read Katie&#39;s personal blog, including a post called <a href="http://inmyspiralringnotebook.blogspot.com/2013/04/why-i-run.html" target="_blank">Why I Run,</a>&nbsp;<a href="http://inmyspiralringnotebook.blogspot.com/" target="_blank">right here</a>.&nbsp;</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/KycOUPigWDU?rel=0" width="640"></iframe></p><p><strong>More from the What I See project</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/what-i-see-dmitry-samarov-107924" target="_blank">Painting, sketching and coffee-roasting with Dmitry Samarov</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/sections/lifestyle/what-i-see-trainers-day-shedd-aquarium-107766" target="_blank">A trainer&#39;s day at the Shedd Aquarium with&nbsp;Jessica Whiton</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/what-i-see-bike-bee-107686" target="_blank">Bike-a-Bee with Jana Kinsman</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/what-i-see-early-morning-edition-107362" target="_blank">Early Morning Edition with Lauren Chooljian</a></p><p><em>Show us what your Chicago looks like! Email web producer Logan Jaffe ljaffe@wbez.org or tweet @loganjaffe to find out more about how to make a What I See slideshow for WBEZ.</em></p></p> Tue, 30 Jul 2013 09:26:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/art/what-i-see-katie-prout-108221 Majority of aldermen call for budget changes http://www.wbez.org/story/majority-aldermen-call-budget-changes-93680 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-October/2011-10-21/CPL books.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A majority of Chicago's aldermen are calling for changes to Mayor Rahm Emanuel's 2012 city budget. They say his proposed budget cuts would hurt public safety and quality of life.</p><p>Twenty-eight of the city's 50 aldermen signed the letter to Mayor Emanuel.&nbsp; They say his plan to cut library hours would cause too many layoffs and negatively effect patrons who rely on the library.</p><p>"We're hearing it loud and clear, all across the city, from the West Side to the East Side to the North Side to the South Side," said Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd). "Everybody's complaining about the cuts."</p><p>Fioretti said cutting library hours, as mayor Emanuel has proposed, would hurt kids and people who use the internet to search for jobs.</p><p>In addition to the library cuts, the 28 aldermen voiced other concerns.</p><p>The current budget proposal also consolidates 12 mental health clinics into six, and privatizes some health services. Aldermen say public clinics are vital for Chicago's neediest and must be protected.</p><p>Other concerns include the $10 million cut from the Office of Emergency Management and Communications. That would eliminate fire and police dispatcher positions - and, aldermen say, endanger public safety.</p><p>The bloc says they also "have reservations" about the proposed near doubling of the fee for city stickers on SUVs. But aldermen recognize that the 2012 budget won't avoid cuts entirely, said Ald. Walter Burnett (27th).</p><p>"'Cause somethin' have [sic] to give. And we're rational enough to understand that. But we just wanna see if we can balance the burden out a little bit more," Burnett said.</p><p>Meanwhile, Mayor Emanuel said he remains open to changing his proposed budget, as long as alderment identify other cuts or revenue sources to offset the ones they don't like.</p><p>"I hear them. It doesn't mean I agree. But it doesn't mean I disagree," Emanuel said. "And as I always said, not all signatures on a letter are created equal."</p><p><br> &nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 02 Nov 2011 11:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/majority-aldermen-call-budget-changes-93680 On the streets of Hyde Park, Basquiat lives again? http://www.wbez.org/blog/lee-bey/2011-06-20/streets-hyde-park-basquiat-lives-again-88032 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-June/2011-06-19/bey-samo.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-19/P6184721.jpg" style="width: 501px; height: 392px;" title=""></p><p>I was driving through Hyde Park a few days ago when I saw this bit of graffiti on a piece of plywood at the Metra underpass at 51st Street: <em>Stay Positive +</em>.</p><p>That the cheery street scrawl was signed "SAMO2" made me smile a bit. The late NYC artistic phenom <a href="http://basquiat.com/">Jean-Michel Basquiat</a> and two other friends of his used to secretly spray paint sayings on the sides of Manhattan buildings in the 1970s and 1980s, signing them "SAMO"--pronounced "SAME O." Stuff like, "Life is Confusing at This Point--SAMO", and "SAMO Does <u>Not</u> Cause Cancer in Laboratory Animals.."</p><p>Basquiat went on to great, albeit brief, acclaim as an artist, striking up friendships with Andy Warhol and other notables before dying of a drug overdose in 1988 at age 27. More than two decades later, a new SAMO seems to have taken up the call in Hyde Park. Who is behind this, I wonder? A few steps east of the above sign, there was this reminder from SAMO2:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-19/P6184724.jpg" style="width: 499px; height: 372px;" title=""></p><p>Why, <em>thank you</em>.</p><p>AN UPDATE: A purchase agreement has been signed--but the deal has not yet been closed--to sell the endangered Forum hall in Bronzeville to a developer who wants to repair and reuse the dilapidated 112-year-old structure at 43rd and Calumet. The building was <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/lee-bey/2011-06-05/unfunny-thing-thats-going-happen-forum-demolition-planned-decaying-bronzevil">profiled in this blog</a> earlier this month. The developer,<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/lee-bey/2011-06-07/temporary-stay-execution-bronzevilles-historic-forum-building-87495"> Bernard Loyd</a>, said he has erected protective scaffolding beneath a section of the building that was shedding bricks. He said he expects the purchase to be completed in a few days.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 20 Jun 2011 10:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/lee-bey/2011-06-20/streets-hyde-park-basquiat-lives-again-88032 Crime issue boils in some ward races, simmers in others http://www.wbez.org/story/24th-ward/crime-issue-boils-some-ward-races-simmers-others <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/24th Ward forum 2cropped.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Chicagoans who punch cards for their favorite aldermanic candidates might have the issue of crime on their minds. But depending on where they live, they will have heard more&mdash;or less&mdash;about crime from their candidates. Talk of crime is loud on Chicago&rsquo;s North Side, where there&rsquo;s relatively little violence. And some say there&rsquo;s complacency among candidates in West Side neighborhoods, where there&rsquo;s more crime. Two WBEZ bureau reporters, Odette Yousef and Chip Mitchell, look at this mismatch between crime and election talk. We start with Odette on Chicago&rsquo;s North Side.<strong><br /></strong><br />AMBI: Ready? Front! At ease.<br /><br />YOUSEF: Thirty or so police officers from the Rogers Park police district are on hand for an outdoor roll call. They&rsquo;re at Warren Park on a freezing night.<br /><br />AMBI: Twenty-four oh five, Twenty-four twelve...<br /><br />YOUSEF: Normally, police hold roll calls inside the district station. But 50th Ward Ald. Bernard Stone asked them to do it here this time.<br /><br />STONE: On behalf of the entire 50th Ward, I want to thank each and every one of you for what you do for us.<br /><br />YOUSEF: Usually, shows like this only happen when a jarring crime rocks a neighborhood. The police and community all come out to show criminals that law-abiding citizens still own the streets. But no major incident has happened recently in this police district. Ald. Stone is running for reelection. One of his opponents thinks that&rsquo;s the real reason he called this show of force: A little politics before a scheduled CAPS meeting. CAPS is the city&rsquo;s community policing program.<br /><br />MOSES: I was very disappointed in Ald. Stone trying to take CAPS and make it a political event. CAPS and politics do not mix.<br /><br />YOUSEF: So candidate Michael Moses leaves after the roll call. But he&rsquo;s the only one. The other four candidates all stay through the meeting. It&rsquo;s hard to say exactly how residents and politicians in the Rogers Park police district should feel about crime, because the stats are kind of all over the place. In 2010, general &ldquo;violent crime&rdquo; in the district fell more than 5 percent from the previous year but murder went up 75 percent. In another North Side police district, murder increased 400 percent. But consider this: That&rsquo;s from only one murder the previous year. So, we&rsquo;re talking about five murders in one North Side district in 2010. But some West and South side police districts saw dozens of murders last year. Still, crime is one of the top issues in North Side races.<br /><br />ROSENBAUM: Too often the media and everybody in this business, we talk about violent crime rate in Chicago. And the reality is that crime is more complex and neighborhood disorder is complex.<br /><br />YOUSEF: This is Dennis Rosenbaum. He&rsquo;s a criminologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Rosenbaum says even when violent crime may be low, residents feel fearful when they or their neighbors are victims of lesser offenses, like graffiti, car breakins, and auto theft. And, that fear translates into politics.<br /><br />ROSENBAUM: In times of fear and external threat, we tend to turn to authority figures to give us guidance. So it&rsquo;s a way of taking control over issues.<br /><br />YOUSEF: So Rosenbaum says it&rsquo;s little wonder North Side politicians are talking about nonviolent crime&mdash;after all, their constituents take it seriously. But there&rsquo;s another reason why North Side candidates are talking crime and safety. For two years, Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis has advocated so-called beat realignment. It would involve redrawing maps of where cops patrol, so there&rsquo;d be more officers and cars in high-crime areas. One fear is that the North Side would lose officers to the West and South sides, where there&rsquo;s more violent crime. Previous efforts to realign beats have fallen flat, but there are rumors Weis is still trying to make it happen. Weis declined to confirm those rumors for WBEZ this week, but here&rsquo;s what he told us a couple months ago.<br /><br />WEIS: What we think by moving people around from districts that are not necessarily the quietest districts, but districts that have an abundance of police officers, we think we can move them over to the districts that are shorter, we can start attacking the whole image of Chicago.<br /><br />YOUSEF: The future of beat realignment in Chicago is unclear. For one, the two frontrunners in the mayoral race are against it. And they say they want to dump Supt. Weis. Still, North Side aldermanic candidates continue to talk about realignment and run against it. One of them is Michael Carroll. He&rsquo;s running in the North Side&rsquo;s 46th Ward. He&rsquo;s also a cop.<br /><br />CARROLL: As a police officer, I know, absolutely, putting more police officers in high-crime areas to bring down the crime rate works. However, I have a very hard time sending our police assets from our community, when we have a clear problem with gang activity and violence somewhere else.<br /><br />YOUSEF: Carroll says his ward has pockets of violent crime that are just as bad as parts of Chicago&rsquo;s West or South sides. He fears losing cops on the North Side would make those places more dangerous. Carroll&rsquo;s opponents are pretty much of the same mind. Most want the city to hire more officers, rather than shift existing officers around. But those same candidates concede that could be tough because the city&rsquo;s faced with a $600 million deficit. Not many have detailed roadmaps for how they&rsquo;d overcome that tricky problem. But in the 48th Ward, one candidate does. It&rsquo;s Harry Osterman.<br /><br />OSTERMAN: What I&rsquo;d like to try to do is see if we can modify state law to use dollars for public safety. There&rsquo;s a surplus in TIF funds for the city of Chicago, and potentially using some of that to hire police officers is something that I think would be worthwhile.<br /><br />YOUSEF: Osterman&rsquo;s goal of hiring more police is popular on the North Side. But using TIFs to get there may be less so. Tax increment financing districts have a bad reputation for being slush funds. So, maybe it&rsquo;s telling that Osterman wants to use them. On the North Side at least, the debate about crime and safety is so loud that candidates will turn to whatever tools are around to ensure police resources stay put. Reporting from Chicago&rsquo;s North Side, I&rsquo;m Odette Yousef.<br /><br />MITCHELL: And I&rsquo;m Chip Mitchell at WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau. The political talk about crime is a lot different in this part of Chicago. Not many aldermanic candidates are hollering for more patrol officers. There are some loud voices on the issue. They&rsquo;re regular folks or community activists, like a woman named Serethea Reid. She moved into the Austin neighborhood a couple years ago.<br /><br />REID: There were people on the corner, drinking, selling alcohol out of the trunks of their cars&mdash;partying, loud music&mdash;two blocks from the police station.<br /><br />MITCHELL (on scene): So what have you done about it?<br /><br />REID: I started by calling the police. We&rsquo;d call, wait 10 minutes, call, wait 10 minutes, call. And the police were not coming.<br /><br />MITCHELL: Reid started attending local meetings of CAPS, the community-policing program. She soon noticed a stronger police presence near her house, but she wanted more help for the rest of Austin. So, last summer, Reid formed a group called the Central Austin Neighborhood Association. It meets in a church.<br /><br />AMBI: Today, I wanted, I was going to start with reviewing and sharing what our mission is....<br /><br />MITCHELL: Reid&rsquo;s group shepherds Austin residents to Police Board meetings, where they demand better service. She&rsquo;s writing various Chicago agencies for data to see if police response times are slower in Austin than in other neighborhoods. And Reid wants information about that beat-realignment idea police Supt. Jody Weis talks about.<br /><br />REID: All the responses I&rsquo;ve gotten were that it was going to take a few months before he&rsquo;s done: &lsquo;It&rsquo;s not finalized. We can&rsquo;t talk about it because he&rsquo;s working on it.&rsquo;<br /><br />MITCHELL: Reid says she feels like officials are giving her the runaround. She says her alderman isn&rsquo;t helping much either. That&rsquo;s despite the fact that it&rsquo;s election season, when politicians tend to speak up about nearly everything. So I&rsquo;ve been checking out West Side campaign events to see whether aldermanic candidates are pushing for police beat realignment.<br /><br />AMBI: I want to say thank you to each and every one of you candidates. Let&rsquo;s give them a round of applause.<br /><br />MITCHELL: This is a high-school auditorium in North Lawndale. Sixteen candidates crowd onto the stage to explain why they would be the best 24th Ward alderman. The forum lasts more than two hours, but not one of the candidates brings up the idea of realigning police beats or other ways to bring in officers from lower-crime areas. After the forum, I ask incumbent Sharon Denise Dixon why.<br /><br />DIXON: I can&rsquo;t answer that question for you, but that is a very good question. I can&rsquo;t answer it but it certainly should have been on the radar here, seeing that Lawndale is a high-crime area with lots of homicides and drug activity, etc. So that should definitely be a concern.<br /><br />MITCHELL: I&rsquo;ve reached out to aldermanic incumbents in five West Side wards with a lot of crime. All of the aldermen express interest in shifting police to high-crime neighborhoods. But none is trying to organize any sort of campaign to make it happen. In the 29th Ward, Ald. Deborah Graham points out that any organizing would meet resistance from people in low-crime areas.<br /><br />GRAHAM: Some of our aldermen on the north end [of the city] are fearful of losing their police officers.<br /><br />MITCHELL: Graham wishes police Supt. Jody Weis would lay out his plan and build public support for it.<br /><br />GRAHAM: Having a clear understanding of why we need the realignment&mdash;to ease their discomfort of possibly losing squad cars&mdash;would be very helpful.<br /><br />MITCHELL: But there may be another reason why so few West Side candidates are pressing the issue. 24th Ward challenger Valerie Leonard says many constituents don&rsquo;t want more officers.<br /><br />LEONARD: Talk to younger people, especially on the street. They say they&rsquo;re scared of the police. They say that the police are always picking on them and...<br /><br />MITCHELL (on scene): It&rsquo;s not a winning campaign issue.<br /><br />LEONARD: That&rsquo;s true, given the history.<br /><br />MITCHELL: The history includes a point in 2003, when Mayor Daley was running for reelection. He promised to realign police beats. That riled aldermen of lower-crime wards, including some on the North Side. After the election, Daley backed away from his promise. Instead of realigning beats, his administration set up elite police teams to rove across large swaths of the city, from one crime hotspot to another. That way, the low-crime areas didn&rsquo;t have to give up patrol cops. One reporter called it the path of least resistance. But Chicago police SWAT officer Erick von Kondrat points to a downside.<br /><br />VON KONDRAT: These teams out there&mdash;whether they&rsquo;re area gang teams or some of the other citywide teams that move from district to district on a need-by-need basis&mdash;they don&rsquo;t have that opportunity on a day-to-day basis to make the connections that are really going to bolster the trust between the community and the police department.<br /><br />MITCHELL: Officer Von Kondrat says distrust in the police partly explains why West Side aldermen don&rsquo;t campaign for more beat officers. But he says there&rsquo;s another reason. He noticed it when he was a 24th Ward candidate himself (before a challenge to his nominating papers knocked him off the ballot).<br /><br />VON KONDRAT: A lot of these incumbents, because Mayor Daley is leaving, they don&rsquo;t really know what they&rsquo;re going to be stepping into at this point in time.<br /><br />MITCHELL: Again, the mayoral frontrunners don&rsquo;t support beat realignment. So, Von Kondrat figures, no West Side alderman can afford to be on the new mayor&rsquo;s bad side.<br /><br />VON KONDRAT: Going against that force is probably not in your best interest. It wouldn&rsquo;t make much sense to bring that issue up.<br /><br />MITCHELL: The beat-realignment idea has stalled, time and again, since the 1970s. The alternative would be to hire more cops for high-crime areas. That&rsquo;s basically what the top mayoral candidates are suggesting. In this economic climate, though, it&rsquo;s not clear what option the city can afford: financing a larger police department or shifting around the cops it already has. Chip Mitchell, WBEZ.<br />&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 17 Feb 2011 21:59:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/24th-ward/crime-issue-boils-some-ward-races-simmers-others Gang mediators take on domestic violence http://www.wbez.org/story/advocate/gang-mediators-take-domestic-violence <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Kerr_0.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>A Chicago-based group called CeaseFire works in the city&rsquo;s toughest neighborhoods. It trains former gang members to mediate conflicts that could turn violent. Those conflicts might be over turf or money, a pecking order or a personality clash. Now CeaseFire is addressing another source of gang tension: wives and girlfriends. But some advocates for battered women worry that mixing gang intervention with domestic-violence work could backfire.</p><p>MITCHELL (at the scene): I&rsquo;m at the offices of a Humboldt Park group called the Alliance of Local Service Organizations. It runs a CeaseFire chapter and they&rsquo;re letting me listen in to a debriefing about a shooting this month.<br />CEASEFIRE WORKER A: Could there be retaliation to this incident?<br />CEASEFIRE WORKER B: There could have been, very likely, but since we talked them down and...<br />CEASEFIRE WORKER A: Because somebody went around on a graffiti rampage, right?<br />MITCHELL (at the scene): I&rsquo;ve agreed not to identify the CeaseFire workers or anyone involved in the conflict.<br />CEASEFIRE WORKER A: The victim was in a relationship?<br />CEASEFIRE WORKER B: He&rsquo;s in a relationship. He was having another relationship outside the relationship....<br /><br />MITCHELL (in the bureau): Here&rsquo;s the gist of the story&mdash;all of it alleged. A gang member got a teenager pregnant and started slapping her around. This didn&rsquo;t sit well with her family. And, the thing is, her family&rsquo;s in a different gang. So someone in that mob tracked down the man and shot him.<br /><br />CEASEFIRE WORKER A: Did the victim die?<br />CEASEFIRE WORKER B: No.<br />CEASEFIRE WORKER A: Did the victim know the perp?<br />CEASEFIRE WORKER B: Yes.<br /><br />MITCHELL: Violence involving gangs and girlfriends is nothing new in Chicago. But it&rsquo;s only lately that CeaseFire&rsquo;s Humboldt Park chapter responds this way:<br /><br />CEASEFIRE WORKER A: OK, so a domestic-violence advocate has been notified and is working with the related parties around safety planning. We don&rsquo;t know if that has taken place, right?<br />CEASEFIRE WORKER B: No.<br />CEASEFIRE WORKER A: Because we gave her the card but...<br />CEASEFIRE WORKER B: It&rsquo;s on her if she wants to go get the help. We can&rsquo;t force her to do anything.<br />KERR: And there are other services that we&rsquo;ve connected with as well so...<br /><br />MITCHELL: This last guy is Norman Kerr. He&rsquo;s a social worker who oversees the CeaseFire chapter. Kerr speaks with me after the meeting.<br /><br />KERR: A year ago, we didn&rsquo;t really concern ourselves with needs of the victim in a domestic-violence case. If there was a young lady who was victimized by her boyfriend, that really wasn&rsquo;t something that we addressed.<br /><br />MITCHELL: So Kerr and some former gang members he supervises got some training from the Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women&rsquo;s Network. And the CeaseFire chapter has developed an approach to what it calls &ldquo;intimate-partner violence.&rdquo;<br /><br />KERR: If we know someone is victimized, we want to make sure that they&rsquo;re getting the help that they need. And, at the same time, we&rsquo;re sitting here talking about how we can educate the young guys that they shouldn&rsquo;t be perpetrating domestic violence.<br /><br />SHAW: That&rsquo;s a dream come true.<br /><br />MITCHELL: Barbara Shaw heads a state agency called the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority.<br /><br />SHAW: Men sometimes feel that they have a right to hit their girlfriends or hit their wives&mdash;that they&rsquo;re supposed to maintain control. And having other men, particularly men who have a macho image themselves, telling them that this is not OK and not manly increases the validity and strength of the message.<br /><br />MITCHELL: Shaw says gang interventionists with roots in the neighborhood have much more access to perpetrators than victim advocates do. That&rsquo;s actually the idea behind expanding the program. Starting next month, the Humboldt Park chapter will train CeaseFire street workers citywide about intimate-partner violence.&nbsp; But some battered-women&rsquo;s advocates warn that CeaseFire could be putting those workers in greater danger.<br /><br />ABARCA: The offender may try to send other people after him or may teach him a lesson for getting into his business.<br /><br />MITCHELL: Rosa Abarca heads the domestic-violence program at Mujeres Latinas en Acción. That&rsquo;s a women&rsquo;s center in Chicago&rsquo;s Pilsen neighborhood. Abarca says a perp. might mistake what a CeaseFire worker&rsquo;s up to.<br /><br />ABARCA: He may feel like this is a boyfriend that&rsquo;s trying to help her out. And that can escalate the abuse for her because he&rsquo;s probably thinking that, &quot;She&rsquo;s being unfaithful. I need to control her more.&quot;<br /><br />MITCHELL: And Abarca points out some victims may not be ready for help.<br /><br />AMBI: Debriefing.<br /><br />MITCHELL: Back in Humboldt Park, the CeaseFire workers are still talking about the shooting.<br /><br />CEASEFIRE WORKER A: Let me ask you this: What happens if she does end up getting slapped again tomorrow?<br /><br />MITCHELL: I ask the group&rsquo;s leader, Norman Kerr, whether Abarca has got a point.&nbsp; Maybe a CeaseFire worker could make a domestic dispute worse. Maybe he could spark more violence.<br /><br />KERR: We&rsquo;re not trying to work directly with female victims. We&rsquo;re making referrals. We&rsquo;re making sure that the female victims in those situations are getting some services.<br /><br />MITCHELL: Kerr wants his crew to be careful. But since so many gang disputes involve girlfriends and wives, he says, CeaseFire has no choice but to get involved.</p><p><em>Music Button: Calibro 35, &quot;Appuntamento Al Contessa&quot;, from the CD Rare, (Nublu) </em></p></p> Mon, 24 Jan 2011 11:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/advocate/gang-mediators-take-domestic-violence