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Part of the solution

Wed, Apr 4, 2012

Jim LoBianco

On Monday, March 19, gunfire erupted in front of the Uptown building that houses the StreetWise office. The gunman started firing indiscriminately across the large intersection of Wilson and Broadway. In the aftermath, the front window of a local pharmacy was scarred with bullet holes. Most tragically, an innocent bystander was shot in the leg. Thankfully, the innocent victim is expected to fully recover.

To compound the incident, the shooting took place at approximately 2:20 in the afternoon. Children attending Stewart Elementary, across the street from where this violence occurred, were only minutes away from exiting the building. The shooting was tragic enough without taking into account what may have happened had the streets been filled with grade schoolers.

To their credit, Chicago police officers responded in less than a minute, securing the area and, along with fire department paramedics, tended to the victim. 19th District supervisors have reported that the shooting stems from a gang battle over drug turf. According to the police, as the drug turf shrinks, territory gets more valuable, and the efforts to defend it and take it over gets more violent.

Shootings, like the one above, have been all too common lately and, in other areas of the city, far more tragic. Children are being gunned down on our streets. The Mayor and Police Superintendent rightfully bear the ultimate responsibility for curbing this bloodshed; however, there is responsibility to go around.

In recent remarks, Police Superintendent Gary McCarthy said, “the way we’ve done traditional law enforcement regarding narcotics has not worked. All we do is arrest narcotics dealers and seize product, that’s only half the equation.” He continued, “the idea is to fight this like a ground war and you take it spot by spot by spot and hold on to it and fill that void with police, community and resources to prevent the backslide of that community.”

The Superintendent’s reference to the role of community is critical to a successfully combating crime. The night after the Uptown shooting I attended the local beat meeting in the hope that I would learn how the community intended to respond to this gross violence. I was disheartened to find that only ten adults attended and few seemed engaged in discussing solutions to the gang problem.

After the meeting I told Alderman James Cappleman, who was in attendance, that I would help however I could in mobilizing a community response. I agree with the Superintendent that citizens have a part in combating gang crime and I hope that residents around the city will answer his call for help. As the saying goes, “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”

Be a part of the solution. Get involved. Call your local alderman or police station and find out how you can help restore safety to our streets and peace of mind to our children.

By Jim LoBianco
StreetWise Executive Director

I would greatly appreciate your thoughts and suggestions. You are welcome to contact me at either jlobianco@streetwise.org or (773) 334-6600 (ext. 22).

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