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Chicago’s security priorities

Monday, Jul 7, 2014

* I wandered into a pleasant little outdoor cafe near the John Hancock Building to have lunch on Friday, and sat there blissfully alone, collecting my thoughts and peacefully enjoying a beautiful day…

Yeah. Quite the place. Everything was à la carte. Even the bread was extra. I didn’t eat much.

All of a sudden, somebody set off some firecrackers down the street. Crack! Crack! Crack! Crack! Crack!

I saw some of the tourists visibly jump.

One of the waitresses tried to calm the tourists down, cooing that it was just a firecracker. “They don’t shoot up here,” she said.

* But they do shoot elsewhere

For 10 minutes, it seemed like the shooting was everywhere in the South Chicago neighborhood.

It started when someone shot and wounded a couple, then two people fired at the shooter, then there was a chase and shots exchanged and a man sitting on a porch was hit. Responding officers kept cutting each other off on their radios as they reported other gunfire in the area late Sunday night and early Monday morning.

Then the heavy equipment rolled in: A helicopter and SUVs packed with lockers of rifles. SWAT teams in green coveralls patrolled the streets with uniformed officers.

It was just one of dozens of shooting scenes across Chicago over the long Fourth of July weekend. In all, at least 82 people were shot, 14 of them fatally, since Thursday afternoon when two woman were shot as they sat outside a two-flat within a block of Garfield Park.

* More

Hundreds of extra officers were assigned Chicago streets this past weekend, Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said […]

Nearly all of those killed were black or Hispanic men age 35 or younger. Two — Shaquille Ross, 18, and Kezon Lamb, 19 — were teenagers. One was a woman. And details of the most recent shooting victim was not yet available Monday morning.

In places like West Englewood, South Shore and Austin, gunshots seemed almost as common as fireworks this past weekend.

“Englewood and South Shore had it lit up,” Andrew Holmes, an anti-violence activist who frequently goes to crime scenes and operates an anonymous crime tip hotline, said of the shootings Sunday night. “You had some people that were literally limping to the ambulance. They weren’t waiting.”

* More

Talking to a large gathering of reporters at a West Side police station, McCarthy noted that Sunday’s surge of gun violence made the weekend more violent than last year’s holiday weekend, a head-scratcher for him and his staff.

“It was yesterday that we lost it,” McCarthy said. “We’re square-rooting nine ways from Sunday what is it that happened. Was it a fatigue factor? Did we give people off? Because the fireworks (at Navy Pier) were Friday and Saturday. That’s where we had a lot of folks deployed during those timeframes.”

* OK, I totally understand that if they hadn’t deployed extra coppers to Navy Pier on Friday and Saturday and something bad had happened the news media would scream absolute bloody murder and McCarthy would be tarred and feathered and run out of town strapped to the front of the next departing Greyhound.

But a rethink might be in order here. Were all those Navy Pier police truly necessary?

* Another thing I did over the weekend was attend the American Music Festival in Berwyn. Here’s a pic I took of country music legend Billy Joe Shaver…

Click here for lots of videos from the festival.

* Aside from the incredible music, the coolest thing about the event was the unobtrusive to the point of invisible security, despite the large, somewhat inebriated crowd. One of the managers told me he’d been working the festival for five years and they’d only had one serious fight - between a mother and her daughter.

Whenever I go see a show in Chicago, even if I’m at a super-chill jam band concert, there’s always tons of aggressive security with fancy radio earpieces, bulging muscles and even cops at the door screening patrons. It’s just a goofy waste of resources. How many people get shot at a Rat Dog show, for crying out loud?

Again, priorities, please.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Formerly Known As... - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 4:04 pm:

    Such very poor choices. Meanwhile, shooting victims are up this year while shooting victims are down.

    The Mayor and Superintendent owe modern medicine and some amazing EMT’s a massive thank you so far this year.

  2. - Phenomynous - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 4:09 pm:

    No mention of it, but conceal and carry saved some lives over the weekend in Chicago.,0,5324984.story

  3. - Ron Burgundy - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 4:14 pm:

    I did see a report in the Trib. that some idiot punched a cop coming out of the Dave Matthews Band concert at Northerly Island Saturday night. After seeing the photo, I’m surprised he wasn’t more of a bloody pulp than he was after doing something stupid like that.

  4. - Brass - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 4:18 pm:

    Don’t worry, Rahm has all this under control. He has George Lucas and the Norman Rockwell paintings to protect the people of Chicago soon.

  5. - Lil Squeezy - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 4:33 pm:

    The only real concern at a Rat Dog show is Bobby falling on patrons in the first row.

  6. - Amalia - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 4:34 pm:

    don’t know the exact numbers assigned, but, yes, hundreds of thousands of people in one place demands lots of police. big question for the neighborhoods with lots of shootings on a regular basis, what is going on? and why do so many mothers stand by the gang members?

  7. - Pickle - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 4:35 pm:

    Billy Joe Shaver doesn’t get the credit, fame and money he deserves as a singer songwriter. He is largely responsible for the Outlaw Country brand of music and had a huge impact on making Waylon such an icon. There is no doubt that he is a wacko. His song Live Forever which he did in collaboration with his deceased son is one the best songs ever.

  8. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 4:37 pm:

    ===Billy Joe Shaver doesn’t get the credit, fame and money he deserves as a singer songwriter===


    I couldn’t believe the tiny van his band used to get around.

  9. - Out Here In The Middle - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 4:45 pm:

    From the Trib Story:

    “The military service member fired two shots and struck Mickiel twice, she said.”

    The value of REAL training . . . .

  10. - Tommy C - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 4:53 pm:

    I’ll be with Ratdog Friday night at Red Rocks. I promise to keep an eye out for outlaws.

  11. - Alex - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 4:54 pm:

    No doubt, a very bad weekend in Chicago. But I still get aggravated by the lack of context the media provide when it comes to violence in Chicago. Chicago is currently on a pace to have it’s lowest number of homicides since 1963! Violent crime is down across the board in the city…but media focus on violence is up,up, up. In actuality, it’s not an exagerration to say Chicago is safer now than it has been at anytime in the last half century. But no one who lives there or visits town thinks that because of the endless media hype.

    That’s not to suggest that violence isn’t a problem…it is. Chicago has more murders and shootings than New York and Los Angeles, despite having a much lower population and similar poverty rates. The media should drilling into this descrepancy rather than simply giving us a body count.

  12. - funny guy - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 4:59 pm:

    I thought I saw you at the festival–been going since it started.

  13. - William j Kelly - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 5:00 pm:

    McCarthy’s #1 priority is reelecting Rahm as mayor, outrageous! McCarthy: “We are in election time and I’m am going to see it through,” he said. “I won’t let the men or the mayor down. Our murder rate is down. I hear a drumbeat out there for gun legislation. I still think we can do something to get guns off the street.”

  14. - Fed up - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 5:02 pm:

    Alex don’t believe the lies. Chicago had the same amount of murders in the first six months of 2011 as It did in 2014. McCarthy lied. Also 2010, 2011 had less murders than the last two years under Rahm / McCarthy. 2014 will finish ahead of 2011. Rahms violence stategy is not showing a decrease funny how New York, LA, Houston can all do what Rahm can’t.

  15. - Amalia - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 5:09 pm:

    @Alex, spot on re the media need to look deeper into what is going on. maybe if they send a few interns to 26th st. to listen to the cases, they can see the culture of violence support that exists with some people.

  16. - wordslinger - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 5:14 pm:

    I live in Oak Park, a few blocks from one of the Austin shooting galleries.

    It doesn’t effect me at all.

    Gun violence is very narrowly drawn in Chicago these days. I can’t pretend to understand the culture — it’s not just gangs. The dude in Pullman pulled a gun because someone asked him about a solo cup on a hood.

    But, fed up, you’re wrong. Gun violence is much less prevalent than it was. Look it up. It’s not even close.

    But yeah, firecrackers on Michigan Avenue will get some attention. Handguns in Austin and Englewood, maybe not so much.

    There are more than 300 million privately held firearms in the United States. Like Mr. Chekhov said, eventually, they’re going to go off before the third act.

  17. - Quiet Sage - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 5:19 pm:

    Bob Dylan cites Billy Joe Shaver by name on his Together Through Life album (2009), in the same line that he mentions James Joyce. This is a very rare tribute from the master–the only other contemporary singer that I’m aware that Dylan has cited by name in this way is Alicia Keys.

  18. - Quiet Sage - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 5:20 pm:

    And of course John Lennon in his latest album Tempest, to whom he devotes the last song.

  19. - Precinct Captain - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 5:33 pm:

    ==and why do so many mothers stand by the gang members?==

    Think outside the box of the American Dream mentality. Why wouldn’t you stand by the gang members? Because they’re violent and menacing? How long have the Chicago Police terrorized black and brown communities in the city and been the same thing? Okay, so let’s call that a draw. Next, economics. If you have systematically ravaged neighborhoods with public policy, creating a lack of legal economic opportunity and an illegal drug market moves in, it is a perfectly rational choice to join that market and protect its businessmen, the drug dealers and the runners and pushers. After all, they’re the ones doing the job creating.

  20. - Amalia - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 5:41 pm:

    CNN just did a Chicago shooting story. it focused on a drive by shooting with a female victim. it will not be until months or years from now if a shooter is apprehended that we will understand why it happened. while it is true that some shootings are random, most studies show that shootings are not random, that shooters and victims are somehow connected, and often, victims do not fit the clean sheet profile of a Haidaya Pendleton. where is CNN in covering the facts of the crimes of offenders apprehended? Chicago also has a rep for murderers let off death row, most kept in prison because they are actually guilty. cover the punishment of the guilty. often the media forgets there are actually offenders deserving of punishment for rapes and murders, not just statistics, but actual people.

  21. - Amalia - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 5:45 pm:

    @ precinct captain, tell your fiction to the black and brown police and prosecutors and judges.

  22. - Lincoln (b)LOGger - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 5:46 pm:

    Tell the families losing sons, losing fathers, losing brothers - that this is the safest Chicago has been; and then close your eyes to the reality. God forbid we try to do anything but arrest our way out of it.

  23. - Wensicia - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 5:51 pm:

    The two Chicagos; unfortunately personal safety takes priority in only one.

  24. - Anonymour - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 6:05 pm:

    The police on Michigan Ave. and Navy Pier were probably needed:

    Which isn’t to say that more weren’t needed on the South Side, too. They were.

  25. - Anonymous - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 6:45 pm:

    –Tell the families losing sons, losing fathers, losing brothers - that this is the safest Chicago has been; and then close your eyes to the reality–

    I guess that sanctimony is supposed to advance the ball somehow, but I’m not sure how.

    The fact of the matter is that the number of homicides are at the lowest in 50 years. It’s that way all around the country, for the most part, including in places with much higher homicide rates than Chicago.

    But Chicago violent crime is concentrated in areas that the media and political elite aren’t too concerned about.

    If someone gets mugged on Michigan Avenue or River North, Kass and the rest of the Chicago media ignorami will write about the fall of Western Civilization (mostly because the crime happened around where they go to lunch).

    Fifty shootings out in the neighborhoods is a number.

    Carol Marin wrote a ridiculous column the other day about some kids she saw running across Lake Shore Drive to the beach. That’s all that happened; she called the police superintendent about it. Somehow, that was supposed to be a “crime” column.

    Zorn and the Red Eye have done some very good reporting on violent crime. The rest of the Chicago media, not so much.

    Violent crime in Chicago has narrowed to very poor neighborhoods. As long as it stays there, I think most of the media and powers-that-be will be silently content.

    If there had been 50 shootings at Navy Pier and Millennium Park over the weekend, the 82nd Airborne would be on the ground.

  26. - wordslinger - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 6:46 pm:

    Pardon, 6:45 was me.

  27. - What is to be done? - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 7:11 pm:

    Chicago had a population of 3.3 million in the 1960s. Today Chicago has just 2.7 million.
    The media needs to stop the lying in reporting that crime is at 1960s levels because it’s NOT !

  28. - Lakefront Liberal Gay - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 7:17 pm:

    I’ve had it. It’s time for the National Guard to come in. Round up the gangbangers and ship them out to every prison across America. They’re poisoning this city. I don’t give a damn about what the ACLU has to say anymore. Not In My Name. Time to get tough.

  29. - countyline - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 7:20 pm:

    dang…I actually agree with wordslinger for a change…

  30. - Frank G. - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 7:21 pm:

    Alex and Wordslinger are absolutely right.

    And Fed Up, you are absolutely off base. And what do you base your statement on?: “Friday night was out of control with youths wilding, jumping on cars and damaging property, strong arm robberies and beatings by buckingham fountain. Lots of tourist going home with some unpleasant experiences.”

    Can you point us to some documentation or media reports, or is your statement strictly anecdotal? Because I took the train from my southwest side home Friday afternoon downtown and walked the length of Michigan Ave (VanBuren to the the Trib Tower,) ate at an outdoor cafe on the Mag Mile, had a few drinks, and then walked the same route home. Could have missed something, but didn’t see any of the murder and mayhem you talked about.

  31. - Fed up - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 7:26 pm:

    Wordslinger, murders are at the exact same level as 2011 McCarthy lied and no one in the media will even call him on it. What a sad day for journalism in Chicago. The numbers are easy to find.

  32. - Anonymous - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 7:33 pm:

    Fed, you’re right, the numbers are easy to find.

    And most of the Chicago media has been screaming for years, ignorantly, about soaring murder rates.

    Zorn did a good one-stop shop take.

  33. - Fed up - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 7:51 pm:

    Anon, crime is down from the crazy 80s & 90s so is Chicago’s population. The downward trend in crime reversed in McCarthys first full year 2012 and Chicago has been trying together back to the pre McCarthy numbers since then. They love to use 2012 murder numbers to say crime is down but 2012 was a failure by Rahm McCarthy. Compared to pre Rahm & McCarthy crim has stagnated. Interestingly the number of police is down from pre Rahm years also.

  34. - Chris - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 8:19 pm:

    As someone who would know, crime is most definitely not down. Bear in mind the statistics reported are heavily manipulated (ie murder becomes death investigation). Oh and Wordslinger - if you don’t think strong armed robberies happen everyday in River North you are kidding yourself.

  35. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 8:25 pm:

    Anonymour, anybody who writes a news story based solely on police scanner traffic is an idiot. And anybody who would publish such a story is an incompetent moron. Citizens call in with all sorts of crazy, unreal things.

  36. - Frank G. - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 8:37 pm:

    Fed up — Not sure of the point you’re trying to make about the stats and McCarthy. If you’re saying that the number of murders took a one-time jump in 2012 after several years of steady decline and have now reverted back to a lower number, then I agree with you. But if you are suggesting that the number of murders in Chicago has declined at the same rate the population has declined, you are absolutely wrong. The 1990 Census placed Chicago’s population at 2,783,726. The 2010 Census count put Chicago at a population of 2,695,598. In the early 1990’s, Chicago tallied more than 900 murders almost every year. Since 2010, the city has average just over half that amount of murders annually.

    I’m no fan of McCarthy…I think he’s a showboat. And besides, the cops get too much blame when crime goes up and too much credit when crime goes down.

    But you couldn’t blame McCarthy if he lays in bed every night wondering why he catches so much crap when Chicago is experiencing half the number of homicides it did 20 years ago.

  37. - wordslinger - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 8:41 pm:

    –As someone who would know, crime is most definitely not down. Bear in mind the statistics reported are heavily manipulated–

    Sounds like a scandal. As someone who should know, perhaps you should alert the proper authorities.

    See, you’re part of the problem. You think if anything bad happens, ever, in heavily policed River North it’s a crime wave, while dozens of shootings in the ghetto are a stat.

    Hundreds of millions of dollars keep pouring into River North — condos, hotels, bars, restaurants — despite all that alleged crime you’re scared of. What are those investors, idiots?

    Wish the same could be said for Englewood, Lawndale, West Garfield Park, Pullman….

  38. - wordslinger - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 8:46 pm:

    Chris, the condo market in River North doesn’t seem to gibe with your dystopian vision.

  39. - Chris - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 8:50 pm:

    Wordslinger - I didn’t say it was a dystopia. And I didn’t say it was Lawndale or Englewood. But it does no good to pretend crime doesn’t happen downtown also.

  40. - Goooner - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 9:31 pm:

    One thing to keep in mind –

    The perception still remains that the Loop and Streeterville are overall very safe.

    That’s important, as that area still drives both business and tourism.

    If businesses start thinking it is too dangerous to have an office in the Loop, they are going to pull out.

    If the Loop goes, the rest of the City follows.

    So yeah, it is very important that the perception of people like Wordslinger remains. If Chicago is going to thrive, people must view the Loop as safe.

  41. - Amalia - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 9:36 pm:

    did I miss the part where police in big numbers were not working in the neighborhoods with the shootings? no? cause they are. check the numbers of police assigned by district and there are some with fewer police than necessary and lots of land to cover. but few shootings. like most of the city. the shootings are not happening because there are not police around. there are lots of police around and right thinking residents ask for even more. and stop claiming the police are a part of the problem. the problem is violent sociopaths who believe they run things. and their enablers.

  42. - Anonymous - Monday, Jul 7, 14 @ 9:47 pm:

    ==So yeah, it is very important that the perception of people like Wordslinger remains.==

    I’m not the one buying/building the skyscrapers. I imagine that international money is operating on a little more than “perception.” They could put it anywhere.

  43. - concern1 - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 7:54 am:

    Maybe the 82nd Airborne should be on the ground in those cesspool neighborhoods that nobody wants to go to!!!!!!!!

  44. - Emily Booth - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 9:17 am:

    I worked many, many years for the welfare department in Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods. Gun violence (isn’t this a little redundant?), especially on the 4th, has been around for at least the past 35 years, gang violence with guns and unintended victims, even longer. I think one of the things that has changed is that we pay more attention to it. It is now a part of public discourse rather than the random headline.

  45. - yahoo - Wednesday, Jul 9, 14 @ 7:20 am:

    There is definately a great deal to know about this subject.

    I love all of the points you’ve made.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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* State Fire Marshal Ushers In Fire Prevention Week - “Hear the Beep Where You Sleep!”

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