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Tuesday, March 5

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Andrew Huff / December 2, 2009 10:00 AM

Sort of asked once before, in 2003.

If you have an idea for a Fuel question, email it to or tweet it to us @gapersblock.

fred / December 2, 2009 10:49 AM

I am going to guess that most of the people who read GB have no real idea how active the gangs are in their 'hood.
I, for one, can only guess that they are less active in Wicker Park where I live. My guess is because I hear a lot less gunshots than 10 years ago.

Andrew / December 2, 2009 10:53 AM

@fred That would be worrisome, indeed, since most of the city is divvied up among hundreds of gangs. Here's a map.

The local gangs in my neighborhood have been shaken up a bit -- a group of them were evicted and moved a bit further north, which means there's been more tagging in the alleys as turf shifts around. Nothing more serious than that, fortunately.

Noah / December 2, 2009 11:17 AM

The gang presence in my neighborhood (near the California Pink Line stop) is very visible, and I don't think it has decreased much (if at all) in the 10 years that I have lived in the area. Gunshots (and gunshot victims) are common. Not bad enough to make me move, but still...

annie / December 2, 2009 1:17 PM

I live near Chicago/Damen intersection and for the last 5 years I'd say it's less and less visable. Occassionally I hear some stories about turf wars, muggings. I see a fair amount of drug dealing but not a lot of violence. Also occassionally I see a bunch of cop cars with their search lights going and they drive very slow, I have no idea if it's gang related. I hear CAPS meetings are entertaining if you want to know what's going on.

M / December 2, 2009 2:57 PM

CAPS meetings can be very enlightening for people who have never been.

At them you'll learn (a) all kinds of stuff you may have never imagined happens in your neighborhood, and (b) 911 is not just for dire emergencies but also for most crimes in progress. 911 dispatches the police. 311 is for graffiti, or the after-the-fact busted car window, or Streets and San issues.

Spook / December 3, 2009 8:37 AM

Gentrification has placed us in a hot zone of several gangs that have been "displaced" into shrinking territory.
I call it the Best of Times and the Worst of Times.
The best of times is
because our community organizing translates to a super strong CAPS Team which means our ability to get ALOT of police attention to any gang house around my home.
The Worst of Times is because the
epidemic amount of foreclosed homes means that the mostly stupid gang bangers
simply move right down the street when they get sweated by Five-O.
Shady realtors are not concerned about credit /background checks, just the first months rent.

Nice gang Map by the way, I can't believe that there is a self respecting gang out there called Insane Orchestra Albany!

Guy Smiley / December 3, 2009 9:50 AM

I'm in Edgewater, right between Uptown and Rogers Park, so...yeah.

Guy Smiley / December 3, 2009 9:58 AM

Oh, and Spook touched on it, but targeting the landlords are probably one of the most underused tactics in the fight against gangs. Gangs need a base of operations so that one building you see all the time with all of the (alleged) bangers hanging out in front is probably it. One guy moves in and the rest follow. It's where the bangers from other parts of the city run after doing whatever it is they do in your neighborhood. Gotta hit the landlord for code violations, unsafe conditions (front doors that don't lock), excessive noise, blatant drug activity, etc. The blog Uptown Update has a link to the form on their site:
Drug House Form

If they don't have an HQ, they tend not to spend all of their time hanging out in the neighborhood.

mary / December 3, 2009 10:15 AM

i'm still somewhat new to my neighborhood, but haven't really noticed anything "out of the norm" from where i used to live (which was lakeview). that being said, what everyone else has said has been very englightening. i'm glad to have seen that map, and am somewhat surprised to see that roscoe village has such a large area of gang presence... do i not get out enough? where can i find more info on CAPS?

Andrew / December 3, 2009 10:27 AM

Mary, here's more info about CAPS meetings.

Mrs. Foote / December 3, 2009 10:32 AM

Heart of Chicago, Pilsen. Enuf said.

Mucky Fingers / December 3, 2009 10:36 AM

There are some roughnecks down the block, but they are so few in number that they can't find anyone to fight with. I assume that when nobody is looking they're probably all pushing baby strollers.

M / December 3, 2009 11:32 AM

Another thing you learn in CAPS and block club meetings is how unbelievably hard it is to deal with problem buildings. There are buildings in Edgewater that have been problem buildings -- in and out of housing court -- for years. A couple years ago on Hollywood, a 2-flat owner was renting to a drug dealer. CAPS knew about it and said the owners had a track record of doing it. How do people get away with it? A drug house form had been filled out and police were still encouraging the girl next door to call them when she witnessed a drug sale in progress. It's amazing. As far as social costs go, I think it would be easier to just have some sort of fund to buy these buildings and throw out the criminals. Nothing's easy I guess. Oh wait, strike that. Selling drugs is easy. Ruining a block is easy. Being a shitty landlord who lives in Skokie and rents to criminals is easy. Being a loser and still managing to avoid eviction six months out of the year in Chicago is easy.

mary / December 3, 2009 1:00 PM

thanks so much Andrew!

jennifer / December 3, 2009 2:18 PM

I'm on Damen between Chicago and Augusta, and I've noticed a huge upswing in gang graffiti. I call 311 about it every few days, but it's still all there after several months.

Leelah / December 3, 2009 6:53 PM

This year, there has been a lot more gang related graffiti (and a couple of shootings) near my place (Diversey and Sacramento), but it's nothing compared to what I see in Englewood every day at work. It has been really bad around 63rd and Wolcott lately.

lamb / December 4, 2009 7:43 PM

I'm sure it's controversial but Dr. Slutkin is an interesting guy, an epidemiologist who started CeaseFire, inspired by his work in infectious diseases. He observes that punishment doesn't work to deter crime but social pressure does. Ex gang members working on the street to mitigate and mediate conflicts. It's not a perfect system, but at least it's a new approach that has shown some success, unlike everything else law enforcement has ever tried (not to mention Daley's complete lack of understanding about what really goes on in this city, esp. regarding poor folks and the real services people need, esp. children). Too bad the General Assembly cut their funding.

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