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Concern About Gangs Unite Neighbors in West Town

By Alisa Hauser | September 13, 2013 12:35pm
  An officer said violence among the Satan Disciples gang has subsided.
An officer said violence among the Satan Disciples gang has subsided.
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Getty Images/Keith Levit

WEST TOWN —  Neighbors attending a CAPS meeting Thursday night complained about crime in the area, including hearing gun shots in three instances in recent days in the 1500 block of West Superior Street.

A 40-year-old property owner who wished not to be named said the shots were heard about 9:30 p.m.

Other neighbors said at the community police meeting for Beat 1215 that they sense a flare-up of gang activity in the area and that many of the residents are frightened.

The beat is bounded by 
Wood Street on the west, Ogden Avenue on the east, Chicago Avenue on the north and Lake Street on the south. The West Town beat includes several side streets east of Ashland Avenue such as Huron and Superior.

Police said they made 65 arrests during a two-month period from July 11 to Sept. 11. In recent weeks, violence among the Satan Disciples, or 'SD' gang members, has subsided, with the lockup of three members, an officer at the meeting said.

One woman, 26, said that she is afraid to walk her dog and recently made her back fence a foot higher to stop youths from using her yard to access another yard nearby.

Police urged residents to call them if they're worried.

Gatherings of four or more youths who might yell at passing cars or cause a commotion is reason enough to call 911, police Sgt. Juan Clas said.

The more calls for service received, the more there's documentation of a problem, added Jerry Gabrielatos, a community liasion for Ald. Joe Moreno (1st).

"Keep calling. The calls create a record," Gabrielatos said.

The woman who is afraid to walk her dog said she's called police, dut the squad cars drive by and do not see the young troublemakers who hide in a garden apartment not visible from the street.

"Then call back and say they're hiding under the stairs," urged Nancy Arroyo, a CAPS community facilitator.

Arroyo suggested the woman form a phone tree with her neighbors so they can call to alert each other, as well as organize a positive-loitering event. Such events can be as simple as  having people come outside with their dogs at the same time.

A beat officer, one of six who said he patrols the beat regularly, told the group that if he gets a call, he and his partner search suspects and "look diligently." But if there are no drugs and no guns "we can't do anything," he said.

"Detail is important," the officer said, explaining that if a resident sees someone putting something under the tire of a car before police come, for example, police should be told about it so they know to search under that tire.

After the meeting, Sharee Chambers, 44, who lives near Throop Street and Chicago Avenue, advised the neighbor scared to walk her dog to do it anyway.

"Go outside. They need to see you. They need to know you're watching them," Chambers said.

Another resident, Karen Edwards, 54, told a reporter that  "yuppies" move into West Town and buy million dollar homes next to houses that have been the source of gang activity.

"I rent. I don't care. But I'm out there every day on my lawn," Edwards said.

Beat 1215 CAPS meets at 7 p.m. Thursday in the basement of the Goldblatt's building at 1613 W. Chicago Ave. in West Town. For more information, contact the Near West Community Policing Office at 312-746-8306 or CAPS012District@chicagopolice.org.