South Shore official: Nat'l Guard needed

July 21, 2008 4:42:29 PM PDT
The alderwoman for Chicago's South Shore community says the National Guard should be brought in to help fight crime.Residents in that neighborhood have seen a disturbing rise in violence in their community. And right now, they say they don't believe the city or the police are doing enough to stop the violence.

Mayor Richard M. Daley and Police Superintendent Jody Weis have dismissed the governor's claim that violent crime in Chicago is "out of control." But in the South Shore neighborhood -- arguably the city's deadliest this year -- many residents say the governor is right on:

"Everywhere you look, somebody is getting shot down. It don't make no sense," said Florence Lewis.

The latest murder in South Shore was the high noon homicide Monday of 20-year-old J.R. Steel.

"I don't understand why they shoot my baby. He didn't hurt nobody," said Lewis, victim's mother.

Police report that violent crime is rising faster in South Shore than anywhere in Chicago. Most of the neighborhood is in the 4th or South Chicago Police District, where during the first six months of this year, murders increased 127 percent and aggravated batteries, which include non-fatal shootings, are up nearly 35 percent.

"And they (are) robbing people. They (are) just doing everything. They (are) doing what they want to do. And they are getting away with it," said Fannie Howard, South Shore resident.

The gunfire is so frequent during the day that 20-year-old Deangelo Mosely spends most of those hours in the public library branch.

"I come to the library. I feel kind of safe. It ain't too much violence in the library," said Mosely.

Last weekend, Weis led an outdoor roll call near 4th District headquarters, promising to beef up patrols in the area.

"We do need more police, but like I said, the ones we got, they are not doing their job. They just ride," Howard said.

"They don't have enough police to patrol these areas," said Ald. Sandi Jackson.

But Jackson said she wants the superintendent and the mayor to accept Governor Rod Blagojevich's offer to send state police or the National Guard to her ward.

"This is not something that we're going to stand by and allow to happen. So if that means we bring in guys with camouflage for a short period of time, then so be it," Jackson said.

And what worries neighbors most is that the shootings are generating more violence.

"I hope he rot in hell! I hope somebody drive by and shoot him and his momma, too!" Lewis yelled.

Even as ABC7's Charles Thomas conducted the interview with Lewis, young men milled around South Saginaw Avenue, where the victim lived. ABC7 photographer Ken Bedford said he saw a gun tucked in the waistband of one young man.

Police say they are moving specialized gang and gun teams into South Shore Monday night to head off any possible retaliation.


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