This past Wednesday over 50 residents came out to the Cole Park, Park Advisory Council meeting and packed the fieldhouse at Cole Park to talk about the senseless violence that occurred on the 4th of July. On the 4th of July at approximately 7 pm, a 7 year old enjoying a picnic in the park with his family was struck with an errant bullet allegedly fired by a 21 year old suspect who came to the park to settle a score with another individual. Fortunately, the 7 year old recovered from his injuries but the Chatham community has not.
Residents came out and listened to Chicago Police Department 6th District Fred Waller as he explained what brought this incident on and what the Chicago Police Department is doing to curb violence in and around Chatham. Residents asked questions about having a police officer stationed at Cole Park, bike patrols and calls for the Illinois State Police and Illinois National Guard. Roderick Sawyer, Alderman of the 6th ward attended the meeting and answered questions concerning non licensed vendors in and around the park. The Chicago Park District Cole Park Supervisor stated that no unlicensed vendors are allowed on park property and the vendors on city property were asked for their peddlers licenses and all have been able to produce valid licenses. The Alderman response was that 87th street is the only non-peddling zone in Chatham and peddlers are allowed to go into other areas. The Alderman stated he has been seeking qualified food vendors to go through the Chicago Park District licensing process and setup in the park. The Alderman believes if there were a qualified vendor in the park it would deter unlicensed vendors. State senator Donne Trotter was also in attendance but chose not to speak.
Residents were very vocal with some calling for the park to be closed down or restricting access while others felt that residents need to be present in the park from sun up to sun down to deter negative behavior. The president and Vice President of the park advisory council challenged those in the attendance to come out and join the council. Also, those in attendance who represented community organizations and other groups were challenged to the following
- Open a Chicago Park District account
- Attend monthly Cole Park Advisory Council meetings
- Visit the park frequently especially during evening hours
- Volunteer to assist in the park
As the meeting adjourned a number of residents questioned why no one from Chicago Park District central office, security or regional office attended the meeting. I questioned why City of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel top aide and Chatham resident Felicia Davis was not there.