Gold Coast residents on edge after mob attacks

June 8, 2011 (CHICAGO)

The incident comes after several mob attacks over the weekend in the Streeterville community. However, police say it was not a mob-related attack. Officials say a fight erupted between two groups of teenagers over a borrowed cigarette.

Nonetheless, police say they have a plan in place to counter the violence.

There was no shortage of Chicago police officers near the Magnificent Mile Wednesday. Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said it is all part of a plan that includes the department's gang unit, detectives and patrol officers to combat mob attacks.

"It involves posting officers at locations, choke points where people will be flowing into the city in large numbers," said McCarthy.

While a heavy police presence was noticeable Wednesday, Loyola University professor Ivan Medina wondered where the police were the night before when he witnessed a group fighting.

"It actually started on Michigan Avenue, then proceeded to Rush, then proceeded to Wabash, in a time line of 15 minutes this was going on and no police were around at all. That's kind of hard to understand," said Medina.

Medina said he called police when he saw two kids getting beat up on Chicago Avenue.

"It was a very violent fight...they had one kid at one point down on the floor, they were punching and kicking him," said Medina.

But police say Tuesday night's incident is completely unrelated to any of the recent mob attacks. Regardless, those who live and work in the Gold Coast are on edge.

"The amount that we pay for rent in this particular community in this area, you don't expect to not be able to put your iPod on or put your headphones on and walk to Starbucks and fear of somebody snatching them off your head. That's just ridiculous," resident George Willborn said.

"I live a couple blocks from here and I also work at the Richard Driehaus Museum down the street, and we were talking about the safety of not only our staff but of our visitors," Richard Driehaus Museum Director Lise Dube-Scherr said.

University of Illinois at Chicago crime professor Dennis Rosenbaum said these crimes will only stop when communities get involved.

"What happens in downtown, what happends in upper income neighborhoods is we rely on the police to do everything...It's only when you have a sense of community that your fate and their fate is connected that you can prevent crime," said Rosenbaum.

Merchants on Michigan Avenue have been victims of the mob-related robberies for several months. Stores have a coordinated plan in place with the police to try to combat the robberies which seems to have been successful worked. The number of incidents at retail shops have gone down recently.

Superintendent McCarthy said so far they have made 29 arrests in connection with the mob-related attacks and 10 people have been charged. Most of those suspects are juveniles.

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