Gang war rages in Safe Passage zone

September 13, 2013 (CHICAGO)

The warning comes as a gang war rages in the neighborhood.

The school involved is the Dulles School of Excellence in the 6300 block of South Calumet.

With the dedication of a new playground featuring a visit by the mayor, this was supposed to be a day of celebration. Instead, the party was tainted by fear.

At the corner of 63rd and South King Drive, everyone knew about the latest gang dispute in the neighborhood.

"People that's trying to hurt each other for no reason over little arguments, you know, just a crazy situation," said neighborhood resident Demetrius Clinton.

In the line of fire are students at the nearby Dulles Elementary School. Their Chicago Public School Safe Passage route is suddenly a gang war's "no man's land."

"Instead of kids worrying about education, they're worried about safety," Clinton said.

"It is becoming a problem for our children going back and forth," said 20th Ward Alderman Willie Cochran. "It is a problem for our neighborhood."

The Dulles football team switched practices from afternoons to mornings and the principal ordered that students are to go home immediately after school and not linger on the campus.

"We were advised by Safe Passage that we should have an efficient dismissal and that's what we followed," said school spokeswoman Shana Hayes.

"I can't just walk around scared and have my children scared also," said parent Larado Boler.

"If we live as adults up to our full responsibility, then our children can live up to their full potential," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Emanuel visited Dulles Friday to cut the ribbon on a new playground donated by a private developer. He did not mention the safe passage program.

Darius Vivian says public officials ignoring violence in the neighborhood will not make it safer.

"They just trying to make themselves look good and make it seem like they're doing something," Vivian said. "Its just a show because it ain't nothing safe about it if kids are afraid to go to school."

The mayor's office noted that Dulles is a turnaround schools that has shown dramatic improvement in its test scores during the past three years.

But his is another example of how violence is getting in the way of the Emanuel administration's message.

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