SAUGANASH — Dozens of neighborhood residents took to the Sauganash Trail Thursday morning to send a message.
"We are here to take back the trail," said Ald. Margaret Laurino (39th). "We can't give it up to the bad guys."
Laurino led dozens of residents, strollers and dogs on a walk from Sauganash Park north to Devon Avenue in an event sparked by last Thursday's attack against an off-duty cop jogging on the trail in broad daylight.
Police said the incident occurred about 2:50 p.m., when a man forced her down to the ground near Bryn Mawr Avenue and tried to take her clothes off.
After the officer yelled for help, the man ran south on the path.
Laurino and other walkers said they were shocked by the incident in the neighborhood, which they prided for its low crime rates and high sense of security.
"It happened in broad daylight," said neighborhood resident Beth Cerrado, 38. "This is a way for us to get together in solidarity and tell the world that this is our trail."
Eileen Neis, who uses the trail at least three times a week in her role as a track and cross country coach at Queen of All Saints School, echoed that thought.
"We came to say, 'Get out of our space,'" Neis said.
While lights along the trail aren't being considered — the trail's too pristine for that — a security camera near where the attack occurred might be installed, Laurino said.
Programs, including a walking club, are being developed at Sauganash Park to increase usage of the trail in a safe way.
"We need to get our baby buggies, get our bicycles and dogs walking on this trail," Laurino said. "But we also need to be aware."
The officer's attacker is described as a white Hispanic man about 22 to 26 years old. He is about 5-foot-7 tall, weighs 140 to 150 pounds and has short black hair. He was wearing a gray T-shirt and a blue jeans.
Police are asking anyone with information to call 312-744-8200.