Saturday, March 29, 2008

100 RUMBLE ON HOWARD STREET (Bench Exclusive)

The Bench - Exclusive - About 100 teens were fighting each other on Howard Street late Friday night. A huge rumble broke out around 11:50 p.m. A CTA employee, on duty at the time, made the 911 call to report the melee. Today, he blamed a local youth club.

UPDATE: "It should be pointed out that the 'youth' involved in these on- going problems are from activities at 'Noah's Ark', owned and operated by Rev. Bud Ogle and his 'Good News Partners' organization." Update from North Howard Neighbors Association. Also: Much more about Bud Ogle at 24/7 North of Howard Watchers.

Police initially dispatched about a dozen cars to the scene, at Howard and Paulina, which was closed to traffic to facilitate the ongoing CTA station construction. Howard CTA station is the norther end of the Red Line and is in Chicago's 49th Ward, on the border of Evanston.

Early police radio chatter, at 12:05, indicated that about 20 people were fighting. But another officer soon came on the air and said it was "like a riot" and estimated the crowd at "about 40." However, The Bench spent a couple of hours in the neighborhood today, talking to people about the event. We found the CTA employee who called 911. He said that the crowd was "close to a hundred" people and there were "about 30 police cars" on the scene.

Was it gang fighting? we asked. He said it was just a bunch of young people fighting. "It's that youth club right up around the corner," he said. "The one right next to that church where they feed the people."

"The Good News Church?" we asked. Thanks to the North Howard Neighbors Association, we know now that the youth club is "Noah's Ark," owned and operated by Rev. Bud Ogle and his "Good News Partners" organization.

"Yah, that's right. They had a dance there last night. I don't think they have drinking in their, but those kids come out and they want to fight." He said a similar incident happened "about a month ago," and that the neighborhood needs to "get rid of that club."

"The whole block, the street was solid people fighting," the man said. "See those orange and white cones, they was picking them up and throwing them at each other, at the buildings." No damage was visible on the storefronts, but several of the traffic barrels were dented from abuse of some kind.

"We gotta get rid of that club," he repeated.

Good luck. That club is run by people who are apparatchiks and tools of Alderman Joe Moore, and Moore doesn't give a rat's ass about the people on or north of Howard Street. If he did, he would have clamped down on this years ago.