Fed up with crime, Near North residents plan protest

The intersection of Chicago Avenue and State Street is among the most crime-ridden areas in downtown. | File

By Inside Publications

Neighbors living in the area around Division and Clark streets are getting fed up with all the petty crime, shoplifting, drug dealing and open drug use in their community. Now, they are going public with their complaints.

For these residents, it’s all about the quality of life crimes that are now plaguing many downtown and Near North Side neighborhoods.

As part of their effort to cut down on illegal activity in the neighborhood, a “positive loitering” event will be held from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday outside Jewel-Osco, 102 West Division.

Mel Jones of the Clark and Division Community Group is organizing the event.

“The Chicago Police Department can’t be everywhere all the time,” Jones said. “In today’s legal climate, different approaches must be considered and tried to quell violence and drug activity around our homes.”

Some of the areas located within the local police district experienced a dramatic increase in overall crime during the past four years, including carjackings and shootings. Earlier this year, an off-duty police officer was shot and killed. A nightclub bouncer was slain in a separate incident.

Residents have seen mob assault activity and mass shoplifting raids by youths. Now, some neighbors say there is an open drug market operating daily in their community.

Muggings are being reported at least twice as often as they were just five years ago in the heart of Chicago’s business and tourism districts, according to city data. And a police beat that covers the Magnificent Mile, River North, and Streeterville is now among the worst for robberies in the entire city.

Jones specifically referred to Chicago’s police consent decree, which has been modified with a civil rights focus including new federally-mandated requirements for officers who approach suspected criminals.

“These restrictions combined with lower prosecution initiatives seem to have an overall result of fewer deterrents,” Jones said. “But the consent decree does not require neighbors to accept the normalization of this criminal activity at risk of safety in our day-to-day life.”

This story appears in the Sept. 25 edition of Skyline, one of three local weekly newspapers published by Inside Publications. You can support the 100-year tradition of Skyline, Inside-Booster, and News-Star with a modest $20 annual subscription.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com