'Gang leaders' going public after police warning

September 1, 2010 (CHICAGO) The so-called gang leaders have scheduled a news conference and even notified the media with a press release from a public relations firm.

It comes after police superintendent Jody Weis issued a warning to reputed gang leaders at a meeting last month.

As some elected officials criticize Weis for the meeting, some of the purported gang leaders are saying they were tricked into the meeting and have no plans to respond to what they call the superintendent's threats.

Jim Allen calls himself a minister with a long-established West Side gang. He distinguishes himself by saying he's a 'legal' gang member, not a gang banger involved in drugs and violence. He was not at the meeting with Superintendent Weis but he says he has friends who were and say they were tricked into being there.

"We don't have to be tricked into meetings and then be told you are going to govern people that can't be governed," said Allen.

Allen says he and about ten other reputed gang leaders plan to talk about the meeting with the superintendent at a news conference on Thursday morning, even as others question whether Weis should have met with them in the first place.

"Now they're calling press conferences. What is this all about? It legitimizes the role of gangs in our society," said Alderman Bob Fioretti, 2nd Ward.

Alderman Fioretti says the superintendent should be focusing on more effective policing rather than talking with gang leaders. Governor Quinn also opposes the meeting.

"In my opinion I don't think that's the way to go. I think a better way to go is to take on the assault weapons used to terrorize neighborhoods," said Quinn.

U.S. Attorney Pat Fitzgerald says he supports police using creative strategy to fight crime but it's not something his office would try.

"We are not negotiating with anyone. Anyone who thinks that anyone has a pass to commit crimes in this city is wrong. The federal government goes after drugs, guns and gangs," said Fitzgerald.

Despite being a gang member, Jim Allen says he's working to try to stop the violence. But he says the answer is to provide resources to his underprivileged community.

"A lot of this violence was started, was birthed by patronage, corruption and cronyism and us being locked out of contracts and jobs and resources within our communities," said Allen.

At the news conference the purported gang leaders say they plan to accuse the superintendent of harassment and making unenforceable threats.

A spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department had no response Wednesday night.

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