Friday, January 23, 2009

Updated: Open Letter to 24th Dist Commander Sobczyk

ROGERS PARK, CHICAGO - January 23 - What a mess in Chicago's 24th Police District and the 49th Aldermanic Ward. David Sobczyk, 24th Dist. Commander recently admitted that it is policy to allow gangsters to make "shrines" to murdered gang members. Community activists were outraged when this was learned, which set some local bloggers (including this one) to post against the practice. The "shrines" often deface public or private property, sometimes both. Building a shrine to memorialize a dead gang member involves dumping items such as cheap teddy bears, mylar balloons, votive candles, bottles of liquor and trinkets on the public way. Often, gang graffiti is sprayed on any nearby walls and the sidewalk. (For background, see "Anger in Rogers Park Over Police Protection of Gang Graffiti, Shrines" and "Chicago Cops Protect Gang Shrines.") Updated: Also see "(Another) Open Letter to Commander Sobczyk (Jan. 24)" Today, Commander Sobczyk is making matters worse by sending out an email blast which, in effect, repeats the admission that police have orders to essentially protect gang shrines for 48 hours. Chicago News Bench was included in the email blast, which prompted me to respond to him in an open letter (below). To make matters worse, Sobczyk subtly chides the concerned citizens for being insensitive, and calls the grotesque practice "universal." The commander, still fresh in his position as Boss of the 24th District, seems incapable of stepping around messy piles in plain sight. He has chosen, rather, to step right into them, and the mess is sticking to his shoes. OPEN LETTER TO COMMANDER DAVID A. SOBCZYK 24TH DISTRICT, CHICAGO POLICE DEPARTMENT Date: Fri, 23 Jan 2009 16:08:25 -0800 (PST) From: Tom Mannis Subject: Gang Shrines and The Office Who Attacked Me To: Jody Weis, Superintendent, Chicago Police Department I feel you should be aware of the following email thread. Kind regards, Tom Mannis Chicago News Bench --------------------------------------------- Date: Friday, January 23, 2009 5:48 PM (CST) From: Tom Mannis Subject: Gang Shrines and The Office Who Attacked Me To: David A. Sobczyk, Commander, 24th District Commander Sobczyk: Two things. A response to your letter regarding gang shrines and a request for information about the investigation one of your officers. On June 28, 2008 I was assaulted by 24th District Officer Kanski (badge number 10983). He and other officers stood by and watched a paramedic assault and try to forcibly rob Craig Gernhardt of his camera. Officer Kanski then turned his attention to me, and tried to forcibly take my camera. I filed a formal complaint with [a sergeant] in July, 2008, who assured me that there would be a full investigation. The 24th District has not extended the courtesy of informing me of the outcome of that investigation, and I hereby request a report of said promised investigation. (See As to your comment in your email dated 1/23/09 that "the placement of candles, signage and stuffed animals has become a universally conventional practice in honoring the loss of a loved one," do you honestly expect us all to believe that the vandalization of property public and private is now the way in which most of us (you said "universal") honor the loss of a loved one? Sir, how stupid do you think we are? If what you wrote is true, please explain why we don't commonly see people defacing the public way when a friend or family member dies. Commander, where do you draw the line? I am no gang member, but are you saying that if a friend of mine dies, I can load a pile of crap onto the public way, light a bunch of candles around it, and the police won't haul it off for "48 hours?" (By the way, sir, who sets the official time for the start of that 48 hour period?) Or, Commander, does this free pass on vandalism and defacement of public and private property apply only to select denizens of the local underworld? Commander, your comments and the CPD policy as regards gang shrines insults all of us. Tom Mannis Chicago News Bench --------------------------------------------- On Fri, 1/23/09, Sobczyk, David A. wrote: From: Sobczyk, David A. Subject: Re: Gang Shrines To: "''" Date: Friday, January 23, 2009, 4:01 PM Sir, I certainly regret that you are unable to come and discuss your concerns with me in person. In your response to wanting an “official, written response” regarding the policy of gang memorial removal, I will answer as follows: First and foremost, the Police in the 024TH District in no way condone or wish to promote criminal street gangs. Having said that, the guiding light in the removal of a “memorial” is common sense and practicality; two highly valued attributes that do not lend themselves well to intractable/official policies. In other words, the precise method and timing for the removal of such a memorial is based upon the careful consideration of one or more of the following circumstances and/or concerns: • Officer Safety • Public Safety (traffic obstruction issues) • Location of the Memorial (i.e., public versus private property) • Availability of Required Street & Sanitation Personnel • Memorial Content (generic versus gang-related) In today’s world, the placement of candles, signage and stuffed animals has become a universally conventional practice in honoring the loss of a loved one. For those memorials which have no gang-related connection, the police will typically assess the situation and respectfully inform the family and friends that such a memorial will have a finite existence. Those memorials which are gang-related, will be removed in a more expedient manner pursuant to the aforementioned considerations. Commander David Sobczyk 024TH District Chicago Police Department -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- From: Michael luckenbach To: ; Sobczyk, David A.; Jody Weis Sent: Fri Jan 23 15:33:59 2009 Subject: Gang Shrines Gentlemen: The residents of the 24th Police District and the 49th Ward continue to await a written reply to the open letter (below) sent to you on Thursday, January 22, 2009. As requested, we would like clarification regarding the 24th District 'policy' in dealing with 'gang shrines' in and on the public way in our community. Sincerely, M. Luckenbach North Howard Neighbors Association -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- An Open Letter to: Police Superintendent Jody Weis 24th District Commander Dave Sobczyk Alderman Joe Moore Gentlemen: A response to this concern, which was e-mailed to each of you last week, has not yet been received. The residents of the 24th District and 49th Ward await your response and clarification on this matter. Sincerely, Michael Luckenbach North Howard Neighbors Association -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 'GANG SHRINES' AND THE 24th POLICE DISTRICT In regard to the crime situation in our community, I want to relate the following to all 49th Ward residents: I attended a meeting the evening of Friday, Jan.16th, as a member of the NoH Parks' Advisory Council's Security Committee. In addition to Chicago Park District personnel (program, facilities and security), Sergeant 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, from enabling and glorifying to coddling the gang lifestyle and activity in our community. This 'attitude'/policy is a serious affront to our residents and our community. It should be OFFICIALLY discontinued immediately. There must be ZERO tolerance to glorification or tolerance of ANY gang activity, period, particularly on the part of our 24th District Police officers. I intend to pursue this matter further, with STRONG objections, to Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis, 24th District Commander David Sobczyk, as well as 49th Ward Alderman Joe Moore. I strongly urge ALL residents of our community to do the same. Voice your feelings and opinion now to: ----------------------------------- When your mother dies, Dear Reader, will you memorialize her by dumping a few cheap teddy bears, mylar balloons, votive candles and bottles of cheap liquor on a street corner? Commander Sobczyk thinks you are likely to. Why else would call such a practice "universal?" Subscribe to Chicago News Bench