Up in Smoke; my old neighborhood (West Pullman), being lost to the streets.

Up in Smoke; my old neighborhood (West Pullman), being lost to the streets.

I can’t tell you how heartbreaking it is to watch your old neighborhood turn into a war zone, especially when you still have relatives living there.

My childhood home and old stomping ground of West Pullman has had some sort of a shooting every night since July 4th.

Now granted the area has been on a decline for the last decade (enhanced by the displacement of former project residents), but the last few summers (especially this one), have been surprisingly bad.
We used to call the area slightly to the north and east “The Wild Hundreds” (this was north of 120th Street & east of Halsted going all the way to Roseland and as far as London Town), because it has been bad for years.

Even the areas in West Pullman now that have the nightly shootings (east of Halsted, south of 122nd Street), we used to refer to as “Dope City”, and you didn’t go there at night but during the day it was okay but you watched yourself.

And with all of that going on the problems seems to be somewhat contained (like a lot of the violence in the city), you knew where to go and where to avoid and things seemed okay. But now it’s wide open and shootings and violence are popping up everywhere. Morgan Park which used to be fairly quiet has issues now and the problems in West Pullman that were east of Halsted and found their way west of Halsted and going south and into the suburbs of Calumet Park & Riverdale.

I’m not sure if this is completely Police Chief Gerry McCarthy’s fault but I’m sure sick of him talk about strategy and numbers and policy like I’m in a corporate meeting. His stats system may have worked in New York & Newark but it’s not working here.

I know the heart of any police department is its cops on the beat but Chicago has often had special task forces that squarely watched hot spots and contained problems. Now true these squads often abused their powers and had other issues but it kept us from having double digit shootings and fatalities over warm weather weekends.

Like I said, there were problem areas and you knew to avoid them or what to expect. Now it’s like the wild west, even former off limit areas like North Michigan Ave and State Street have been prone to problems and roving bands of thugs.

I know getting more cops on the street seems like throwing water on a grease fire but it’s the first step.

Last summer I was in downtown Indianapolis and saw the same issue of large groups of young people looking for trouble but the cops there were on the corners, walking the beat in groups and ready to diffuse any situations. It was comforting to know they were on the case, ready and proactive to keep areas safe.

It seems that here in Chicago so much is reactive, something has to happen to get results and until then Mayor Emmanuel and Chief McCarthy come up and have the same press conference telling us to be patient that overall crime is down and the strategies need to work.

That time is over, the rest of us (and our loved ones still in those crime ridden areas), don’t have the personal protection these politicians have. Hell we can’t even legally carry a gun, but the criminals do. I’m tempted to “pack some heat” anyway when I have to visit family in these areas, figure I might as well  to protect myself and family since the city either can’t, won’t or doesn’t care to.

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    Charles W. Johnson

    I'm a lifelong writer (since I was 8 years old), and have been doing this blog in some form or fashion since 2004. I'm a DePaul grad (LA&S '99), and know and love Chicago. Writing is my passion, what I write is what I feel and there is no half steppin' with my work. I simply want to share my thoughts, experiences and opinions. And I appreciate you taking to the time to read what I have to say.

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