Arresting Tales

Fear and loathing in the 46th ward

It's not a good time to be the alderman from the 46th ward. 

There are complaints about rising violence in the ward.

Then some civic minded fellow posted a video of a street brawl involving 30 or 40 thugs.

Shortly after news of the mini-riot made the rounds, three men were shot in the 1200 block of W. Leland, just a few blocks west of there.  More shootings have since been reported.

And now residents are angry.  That is, at least the ones with internet access, who comment at online news sites, and who go to community meetings.  About a hundred of them were so angry they chased Alderman Helen Shiller out of Truman College, cries of "run, Helen, run" following  her as she left.

Let's be honest here. I live in the suburbs now--I don't have a dog in this fight.  I did live in Uptown for a few years back in the 1980's.  What strikes me when reading all the articles and comments about the current violence is that, in a lot of ways, Uptown really hasn't changed much. 

When we rented our semi-rehabbed apartment at the corner of Winthrop and Hollywood in 1982, our sleazy landlord assured us that the neighborhood was "on its way up".  We still talk about the transgendered Marielitos in the building behind ours chasing each other into the alley, blades flashing and glass breaking.  I remember that I had never before seen so many drunk, drug addicted and profoundly psychotic people shambling around the streets.  On recent trips to the Aragon, the Riviera and the Green Mill I've noticed a similar dynamic, only now there are some Starbucks and upscale lounges scattered along the way.  Hope springs eternal.

One theory is that, as officers are diverted from "low crime" districts to respond to violence in hotter districts, gang members and thugs in pockets of those "low crime" districts are emboldened.  If you look at some of the comments at Second City Cop here or here, you'll see officers in some west and south side districts saying they deal with this kind of activity all the time.  Maybe north siders need to get used to it.  Or pressure their elected officials to hire more cops, and let them do their jobs.
 

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16 Comments

Dennis Byrne said:

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Helen Shiller is getting her just desserts. Years ago, when she first successfully ran for aldermen, she ran as an independent. Her base was the homeless and "voiceless" in Uptown that she organized and so stoutly "advocated for" against the "gentrifiers." Maybe now she can organize the gangs and punks.

Jim said:

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She may have been an independent when elected, Dennis, but now she's a pretty reliable Daley supporter. In return she gets goodies like control of the Wilson Yard TIF.

ubiestmea said:

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Lived in Uptown for over 7 years.....the only reason Schiller keeps beign re-elected (and by as few as a couple of hundred votes) is she gets all the homeless and street people to the polls on election day to vote for her.

She is known as the 'queen of welfare pimps'...keep the neighborhood poor and the divided and she keeps her cushy job.

The blood of every person shot/killed in Uptown should be on her concious...she is the one responsible for the mess.

Greg Morelli said:

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More frightened of drunk frat boys on Clark & Addison than I am of high trannies on Winthrop & Hollywood. Don't you think maybe it's time for a serious debate about the 2nd Amendment?

I'd like to invite you & Dennis Byrne for a townhall debate at Joey's Brickhouse. We'll provide the food, booze, stage and mircophones. Are you game, Joe? Are you up for it, Dennis?

I welcome angry protestors. I welcome rude disruptions. More than anything else, I welcome 1st Amendment Freedom Fighters we call ChicagNow Bloggers.

roy519 said:

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I don't think anyone should get use to riots. I hope the Alderman comes out soon and speak out about this. She has failed yesterday, Tuesday, the day after the 2016 Meeting at Truman. Everyday that she refuses to address the issue, she stands to lose my vote.

Mike d said:

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Someone needs to give the alderwoman a nice kick in the butt. this is amazing in a bad way.

chris said:

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Sorry, but Winthrop and Hollywood is NOT Uptown. That's Edgewater.

This is not the 1st time something like this has happened. There has been people shot on multiple occasions very near this riot location. When you add in all the violence close to the Wilson Yard, something needs to be done and Helen is not doing it. She rarely shows up at meetings. She needs to be voted out!

Joe the Cop said:

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Chris, when I first lived there (and at Argyle & Broadway) they were still calling it Uptown. I don't remember Edgewater being referred to as its own neighborhood distinct from Rogers Park or Uptown until later in the 80's, and then it was real estate people leading the charge.

Mike d said:

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chris is the official neigborhood mapper of chicago I guess.

juanyen said:

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Since I got out of college in 1985, I've been hearing that Uptown was just about to gentrify. Schiller, with the help of the late Slim Coleman, has made sure that her base of winos, drug addicts and assorted characters keep her in office, and keep Uptown from becoming a safer neighborhood.

There are other issues-- when mentally ill people were "deinstitutionalized" years ago, Uptown became the dumping ground for them. Maybe better care for those folks can be part of health care reform.

irishpirate said:

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Joe the Cop,

you sure you were in Uptown in the 80's? The term "Edgewater" came into wide use in the 70's and was officially in place for the 1980 census. Perhaps the memories of all those Cuban trannies has clouded your memory.

I kid Joe the Cop because when I see Dennis Byrne is commenting on this story I truly realize the curmudgeons have arrived. When I'm older I aspire to be as curmudgeonly as Dennis while still maintaining my skewered view toward the left AND the right.

Back in the late 80's or so I had an amusing experience with a transvestite hooker near Clark and Diversey. I know what you're thinking, but that DIDN'T happen. Going into the 24 pancake joint after a night of drinking with my friends a very tall and buxom tranny hooker approached me. She's asked if I wanted a "date". I explained that she "couldn't afford me". She let out some kind of distress cry and at least half a dozen or perhaps even a gaggle of high heeled trannies appeared running from all directions. Maybe the proper word for such a gathering is "flock". I just don't know. Anyway, we dashed into the relative safety of the restaurant where a few uniformed Chicago cops were eating and laughing at me.

Overall both Uptown and Edgewater have improved greatly in the last 20 odd years. That is mostly just due to economic forces pushing relatively wealthier people north from Lincoln Park and Lakeview. For a time Shiller actively tried to impede the change, but their are limits to even the power of an exalted Chicago ward boss. From her perspective the best thing that likely happened in the 90's was a Federal Judge ordering the CHA to start building scattered site housing outside of predominately black neighborhoods. Given land values at the time this caused many scattered site housing buildings to be built in Uptown, Edgewater, Rogers Park and Humboldt Park. The vacant land in places like Lakeview or Lincoln Park was just too expensive.

If you've ever seen Steve McQueen's last movie "The Hunter" the famous chase scene that ended up with a car flying off Marina City into the Chicago River started on the 4100 block of Kenmore. At that point,1979, that section of Uptown was a mostly white ghetto with white gangs running the streets. The people you see on the street during the scene are not extras. Those were neighborhood residents. Those gangs were later supplanted by hispanic and black gangs.

In the late 80's early 90's "condoization" slowly started taking off away from the lakefront in Uptown. If you look at the census data from 1990 to 2000 you'll see that the number of hispanics in Uptown dropped from 40 percent to 20 percent of the population. That trend has continued while the white population has noticeably increased and the black and Asian populations have dropped slightly.

The bigger change is actually in the economic makeup of the white population. The "Appalachian" whites and native Americans that were a big presence in Uptown from the 50's to the 90's have almost universally disappeared.

If anyone is interested search the archives of the "Chicago Reporter" for Uptown or native American related stories.

The crime problems that exist in Uptown are largely concentrated in a few locations. Each of these locations have two things in common. First, a large concentration of subsidized housing in the immediate vicinity. Second, rival gangs vying for control. Think "West Side Story", only with less dancing and automatic weapons.

Here's a rough rundown of the problem locations.

1. Winthrop and Lawrence

2. Leland and Sheridan(the site of last weeks street dancing)

3. 4500 block of Magnolia

4. Broadway and Wilson

5. 4400 block of Clifton.

6. Coming to the corner of Montrose and Broadway soon with the opening of the new low income midrise. My TIF dollars at work. I am looking forward to the fish farm though. I can't think of a better use of my tax dollars than funding a fish farm in one of the most densely populated urban areas in America. Makes sense to me.

Seriously, I'm not sure that the newer buildings at Montrose and Broadway will be that bad. I suspect the police will be under a great deal of pressure from Target corporation to keep the immediate area under control. All it will take is one shooting in a Target and the flies will poop or poop will fly.

Dennis, you should really troll the Uptown Update website for stories. As a full fledged member of the right wing conspiracy you can send it out on "the google" and perhaps some of "the birthers" can focus on the silliness going on around here.

I will personally doctor an Obama birth certificate if they take up the cause of freeing Uptown from the corrupt Chicago democrats. Perhaps Glenn Beck can cry at the corner of Broadway and Wilson.

Once the corrupt Illinois republicans free Uptown I will lead the battle against them and restore democratic corruption to Uptown. Perhaps we could even have bipartisan corruption. Maybe in the interests of political correctness we could find some trannies and let them take part in the corruption. Trorruption.

So many possibilities.

Joe the Cop said:

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Irish, many, many things might have clouded my memory. I lived at Broadway/Argyle from 1980-1982 and again from 1983-1986, with one year in-between on Winthrop. My recollection of the period re: the neighborhood names is probably totally inaccurate.

irishpirate said:

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Actually some people may have called Hollywood and Winthrop "Uptown" at that point. It really doesn't matter that much. I was partially kidding. I've been told that "sarcasm" is a disease I will likely die from.

During the 70's "Edgewater" seceded from "Uptown" and the city created a new "community area". It made sense even if Uptown wasn't rather problematic at the time. Most community areas on the north side run 12 blocks north to south and pre secession Uptown ran from 4000-6400 north or if my math is correct 24 blocks.

chris said:

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Sorry, but Edgewater and Uptown have had very distinct borders for a longer time than since the 70's. People may have called it (Hollywood & Winthrop) Uptown, but that doesn't make it right. That essentially is right at the Edgewater Beach Hotel, which was called that because that was the neighborhood it belonged to. Note that they didn't call it Uptown Beach Hotel.

Now, Broadway & Argyle is right in Uptown, so you are correct about that.

irishpirate said:

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I'm wrong about many things.

I'm not wrong about Edgewater once "OFFICIALLY" being part of the Uptown neighborhood. That doesn't mean people didn't refer to it as Edgewater.

http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/413.html

lw62005 said:

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Hey "Joe The PoPo" I love your code words for describing areas and neighborhoods. For those unaware I will break it down.

"Low crime area" = White neighborhood.

"High crime area" = Black/Latino neighborhood.

Would not want the people to be confused now would we Joe?

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