ROGERS PARK — A longstanding gang conflict in Rogers Park took a scary turn for some neighbors when an Internet video appeared featuring gang members flaunting big guns at the corner of Farwell Avenue and Ashland Boulevard.
The video, posted earlier this month to YouTube, features a rapper by the name of Bang Da Hitta, rapping about the death of apparent rivals.
He and others in the video hold what appear to be long-barreled, semiautomatic firearms, while spitting lyrics that call for the death of "L'z," a nickname for a Howard Street gang called LOCs, or Loyalty Over Cash.
"Rogers Park is going down. Don't f--- around with that f---ing ground. Don't f--- with, don't get f---ed around. Thirty up in that clip, boy. F--- around and get hit, boy," the rapper says, before the chorus repeats, "Die L'z."
The gang whose territory includes the intersection of Farwell and Ashland is known as ICG, or Insane Cutthroat Gangsters, said Rogers Park Police Cmdr. Thomas Waldera.
Waldera said he and his officers are aware of the video and others that have popped up on YouTube this summer since suspected gang member Blake Lamb, 20, was shot to death at Willye B. White Park.
Waldera, who commanded the Area North Gang Enforcement Unit from 2005 until he was promoted to district commander at the end of April, said the ubiquitous nature of social media has led to gang members using internet videos, instead of graffiti tagging, to provoke rival gangs.
After Lamb was killed, Waldera said, another video had been posted that showed rival gang members taunting what appeared to be Lamb's body under a white sheet at the scene of the murder.
"It’s unbelievable," he said. "They somehow got video of the body with the sheet over it. [They were] saying, like, 'Come on, get up, Blake. Get up. I thought you don’t lay down for anyone.' "
Other lyrics from the video, which was also posted to a neighborhood blog, conveyed a similar ruthless attitude.
"Toe tag DOA. That's for being in my way," the lyrics say, referencing a term used when someone dies before first responders arrive at a scene. "Killing 'til my heart swell. Disrespect my hood, guaranteed there's gonna be all hell. Thirty days, 30 nights, it's going rain all shells."
Neighborhood sources say the rapper in the video is active in the area, but his given name is not clear.
Bernard Garbo, an area CAPS beat facilitator, said most of the language in the videos is "hot air."
"It’s a lot of bravado," he said. "What’s important is there’s a community response to it."
Garbo said neighbors have denounced the video and what it calls for.
"It’s all total foolishness," he added. "Any video like this is a cause for concern — and people should be aware of it, and they are, but it should not cause panic."
John Warner, a CAPS beat facilitator who lives near Farwell and Ashland, said the video was unsettling to watch.
"It makes me nervous," he said, "but speaking with the commander concerning especially that video, I’m not as nervous as I had been."
Waldera said the Chicago Police Department had arrested four convicted criminals who appeared in the online videos while holding guns, a violation of their parole. The same sort of stunt got South Side rapper Chief Keef in trouble last year.
The commander said the video posted this month was most likely shot inside and edited to make it look like they were waving guns around on a street corner.
"Under no circumstances do I think 10 gang members in daylight hours were standing at Farwell and Ashland with guns," he said, but the footage illustrates what police are up against on the street.
"Did you see the weapons in that video?" Waldera said, almost in disbelief, before issuing a warning to other gun-toting gang members: "If you’re in a video with a gun in your hand, we’re coming after you.”