Saturday, January 17, 2009

Chicago Cops Protect Gang Shrines

Chicago Police are actively protecting gang graffiti and "shrines." That's the disturbing report from Rogers Park, Chicago today. "Serve and Protect" is the motto of the Chicago Police Department. However, CPD seems to be taking that a bit too far as regards gang graffiti and gang "shrines." A Rogers Park blog reports today on a shocking admission by Chicago police that they deliberately allow gang shrines. In effect, CPD is protecting them. You may have seen a gang "shrine," which is meant to honor and commemorate a recently-killed gang member. The "shrine" is usually nothing more than a tacky, unsightly pile of crap, most likely consisting of a teddy bear or two, balloons, candles, and a variety of miscellaneous discount store crap. Whenever possible, a shrine is hastily put up on or very near the actual spot where the gangster was killed, which is usually on a public sidewalk. I photographed the one shown here in June, 2007 at the spot where a parolee was shot by CPD officers on a residential stretch of W. Pratt Avenue. The dark area where the dirt and sidewalk join is blood from the shooting on the previous night. Sometimes, a shrine is nothing more than graffiti scrawled on wall near the point of death. Chicago News Bench recently reported on an incident of Chicago police officers protecting gang graffiti in the north side neighborhood of Rogers Park. The site, across from Alderman Joe Moore's 49th Ward service office, was where a young man was killed in a gang scuffle. Police officers swooped in to prevent neighbors from applying a clean coat of white paint to cover the gang-glorifying graffiti across from the Jarvis CTA Red Line station. Whether a shrine is just graffiti or a pile of crap dumped on a public sidewalk, an unsightly mes has been created. The pile-of-crap variety usually does no harm; it can easily be picked up and removed in moments with no lasting damage. Nevertheless, it is littering and dumping. Graffiti, however, is vandalism, and even after being "removed" can leave a permanent stain. Today, a report on the blog of North Howard Neighbors Association (NHNA) reports that it is official policy for Chicago police to allow gang shrines to be undisturbed for two full days. (NHNA's blog is always a good read and should be checked often; I recommend their RSS feed.) I hope NHNA will forgive me for republishing their post in full here, posted by "mcl": Gang Shrines and the 24th Police District In relation to the crime situation in our community, I want to relate the following to residents: I attended a meeting last night as a member of the NoH Parks' Advisory Council's Security Committee. In addition to Chicago Park District personnel (program, facilities and security), Sargent John Delgado, 24th District, was in attendance. When the subject of 'gang shrines' came up Sgt. Delgado informed us that it was the 'policy' of the 24th District to allow 'gang shrines' to remain, in place on public property, for up to 48 hours. I was dumbfounded by this revelation, as I'm sure all law abiding RP residents will be. I strongly voiced my objection to this 'policy' as completely absurd and ridiculous on a number of levels. This 'attitude'/policy is a serious affront to our community and should be discontinued immediately. There should be a zero tolerance to ANY glorification or tolerance of gang activity, period, particularly on the part of our Police. I personally intend to pursue this matter further, with STRONG objections to 'the powers' that be, i.e., Superintendent Weis, Commander Sobczyk, as well as the Alderman. I strongly urge ALL residents of our community to do the same. Voice your feelings and opinion now to: Subscribe to Chicago News Bench