Mayor, police supt. team up to fight violence

August 1, 2011 6:21:37 AM PDT
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Supt. Garry McCarthy took part in an anti-violence rally on the West Side on Saturday.

It was the mayor's first appearance at a neighborhood anti-violence march and rally since taking office.

"These streets are for our children and the streets will not be a random shooting gallery for the gangbangers and thugs who are terrorizing our children," Emanuel said at Saturday's rally.

The second annual Austin Community March Against Violence comes as the City Council passed a tougher curfew law, which Alderman Deborah Graham, 29th Ward, says will help make neighborhoods safer for families.

"People are tired. They want to be able to sit on their porches. They want their kids to able to play," Graham said.

West Sider Terry Redmond says anti-violence marches and rallies are great, but not enough to deter drug dealing. She would like an even more visible police presence.

"They need to make a show. When they show, the guys move on," Redmond, an Austin resident, said.

"That's why we have 750 more cops on the street, holding commanders accountable, implementing crime strategies. with all of those, we'll see things happening," McCarthy said.

McCarthy also stresses the importance of community involvement, which Austin Neighborhood Block Club President Mary Brown took to heart when she spearheaded a successful community effort to close a local grocery store where drug dealing was allegedly going on.

"In the 11 years that I've been block president, this street has made a turn," Brown said. That's what many in the Austin neighbhorhood hope will continue to happen, only if they fight back against the violence.

"It's a very good Austin area, and I love living here," said Austin resident Kyle Smith.

Residents say they are committed to making their community a safe place. The City Council is also doing its part. Members passed an ordinance addressing the issue of vacant buildings which can provide criminals with a safe haven.

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