The self-described gang members held a news conference at the Columbus Park Refectory, on the city's West Side. Gang members are also expected to attend another news conference today. They are taking issue with Police Supt. Jody Weis' strategy of meeting with gang leaders and warning them of serious consequences if violences continues. Gang members said they were tricked into coming into to the meeting, and that it amounted to harrassment.
"They said they would get us if we don't stop the killing," Labar "Bro Man" Spann (great name) told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Spann, 31, is a Four Corner Hustlers member who has been a leader of the gang and who now uses a wheelchair because he was wounded in a shooting, according to police. He's on parole for armed robbery, communicating with a witness and bringing drugs into a penal institution.
Spann said his parole agent strongly suggested he attend the meeting -- but didn't say he was going to be meeting with Weis and other local and federal officials.
"It was a gimmick," said Spann. "They told us we had to go to a meeting because of our parole."
Mayor Daley spoke up in Weis' defense of the meeting two weeks ago at the Garfield Park Conservatory. "We'll negotiate with anyone to have peace -- even during the war. You sit down with anyone. If you save one life -- if I can save your son's life, you'd want me to sit down with them. But, it's not your son. It's not your daughter," he told the Sun-Times, noting that similar tactics have been tried in Boston and Los Angeles.
Let me get this straight: Gang members are upset that the Police are targeting, and warning, them that if gang violence and killings don't stop, their will be hell to pay?? Do they really think this is a form of discrimination? I can hear them now, "We have rights, too!"
I'm actually dying to hear what they have to say. I do, however, think that it was a good idea that they spoke with them but, what I'm having trouble with is what they spoke about. Police should be the first to know that threatening organized gangs, doesn't work. I think the conversation could've went a bit differently. Perhaps, a compliment sandwich - which is an effective and polite way to deliver a critique without disheartening the receiver.
If I were Police Supt. Jody Weis, I would've said, "Gang members, I know its tough being you. I mean, look at the stuff you have to do to stay afloat - sell drugs, keep your staff in order and kill people, which can be quite messy and ultimately, if caught, could possibly go to jail; that's major anxiety and a huge amount of paranoia. Listen guys, and the few ladies, stop the killings and lets find some peace. Lets get you guys enrolled in business classes or get you guys a job to better yourselves. Kay? Oh, and Bro Man, that's a really nice wheelchair with the gold rims!"
But, on the flip side, this may also be a great opportunity for Chicago residents who have been robbed, shot at, or sexually assualted or whatever, to identify the criminal. I'm just saying.
I'm hoping these questions are raised at the press conference:
- Who writes your press releases? Who does your PR?
- What exactly did the Media Alert/Press Release say?
- What do you really hope to accomplish with this press conference? Empathy?
- How do you feel about the term, "urban terrorists?"
- And, this is my last question, Mr. Four Corner Hustler, would you kill me if I asked you the wrong question?