Gang member: 'Ain't no more leaders'

September 2, 2010 (CHICAGO)

The gang member, who asked not to be identified, said his parole officer told him to report to Garfield Park Conservatory. He said he was shocked to find Supt. Weis, federal prosecutors and others there to deliver an ultimatum telling gang leaders if their members commit a crime the feds might use racketeering and conspiracy charges to take away the leaders' homes, cars and freedom.

"I can't control what's going on out there. People killing for any silly thing," said the gang member, who admits to being an influential member of the Unknown Vice Lords. "There ain't no more leaders. People just have their own little crew. People get in their way and they got to handle them."

The gang member spoke with ABC7 at an event held by a group of self-described former gang members to fire back at what they see as hypocrisy. None of the people involved in this morning's news conference was actually in the meeting with Weis and gang members.

"Is the mayor going to be held accountable for all the corruption on his watch? Is the police superintendent going to be held accountable for all the corrupt cops that go out and kill young black men?" said Mark Carter, Voices of Ex-Offenders organization.

The group includes some who claim they've turned their gang influence into a force for good. Now they want city money to pay for their own violence prevention programs.

"They're giving us an ultimatum and we're offering alternatives," said Reginald Akkeem Berry, Sr., former gang member.

"Why are you sitting back if you got the solution while innocent people are shot everyday? If you got the solution it shouldn't be any dollar amount attached to it," said Ald. Anthony Beale, Chicago Police & Fire Committee.

"They're calling press conferences, being angry and mad and talking about their constitutional rights, that says to me it sounds like it's working," said Rev. Michael Pfleger, St. Sabina Parish.

As for the gang member, he left the meeting with police angry, but said he also heard the message loud and clear.

"If something happens and they say I'm going to be blamed for it I've got to tell 'em, 'Don't shoot, don't kill, none of that.' I can't be held accountable for someone else. I've got to take the message out and let 'em know I'm gonna be blamed for it if they do it," said the gang member.

Does that mean the meeting worked?

"Yeah, it worked for me," said the gang member.

Despite the interest it's generating, meetings between police brass and alleged gang leaders are nothing new. The same warning has been going out to gang leaders for a few decades now with varying degrees of success.

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