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Rogers Park Gang Wars About Rap Videos, Hatred, Not Turf Battles: Police

By Benjamin Woodard | September 24, 2014 5:46am
 Rogers Park Police District Cmdr. Thomas Waldera (l.) stood outside the building where Glenford Johnson, 19, was shot dead on Sept. 11.
Rogers Park Police District Cmdr. Thomas Waldera (l.) stood outside the building where Glenford Johnson, 19, was shot dead on Sept. 11.
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DNAinfo/Benjamin Woodard

ROGERS PARK — The two warring gangs in Rogers Park aren't fighting over turf, Rogers Park Police District Cmdr. Thomas Waldera said.

Addressing residents of the area north of Howard Street Tuesday night, the Waldera spoke little about the recent shooting on Juneway Terrace on Sept. 11, only saying it was "gang-related."

But he said the two fighting gangs — one identified by other police officials as being based near Howard and another from Farwell and Morse avenues — aren't like gangs in other parts of the city that are butting heads over drug turf.

"It’s all about these videos and hating each other and getting back at each other," he said, referring to several rap videos posted by area gang members disparaging their rivals.

Ben Woodard says police consider the YouTube videos as a sort of modern-day tagging:

Waldera said so far this year there have been seven homicides in the district, which covers about 140,000 residents in most of West Rogers Park and Rogers Park. Last year there were six homicides all year, and in 2012 there were 14 homicides, he said.

He said stopping crimes is "about problem-solving, not just complaining. We battle perception. We know that a couple of high-profile crimes can disrupt a neighborhood — they don’t feel like they’re safe."

Waldera commanded the department's Area North Gang Enforcement Unit from 2005 until he was promoted to district commander in 2013.

After Glenford Johnson, 19, was killed earlier this month, Ald. Joe Moore (49th) said in an email to constituents that he was "allegedly one of the top leaders of a local street gang" and involved in other shootings in the neighborhood.

Some members of Johnson's family have disputed that claim.

Moore didn't identify the gang Johnson was believed to have led, but the prominent street gang in the area north of Howard is called the LOCs, or Loyalty Over Cash. Police have said the LOCs are in a longstanding conflict with a Morse Avenue-area gang called the ICGs, or Insane Cutthroat Gangsters.

Residents attending the meeting complained of loitering in the area north of Howard and asked police to address it. Other residents said an increased police presence on Howard has pushed some gang activity north — a sentiment expressed last year, too.

Beat facilitator Toni Duncan encouraged residents to not be "victims in their own homes" and walk the neighborhood in a positive show of force.

"I want someone from every block to sign up" to be a part of a block club, she said.

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