Camera crews and news reporters surrounded Alderman Tom Tunney outside of Beat 2331 CAPS meeting in Boystown this evening. And it was standing room only as concerned business owners, residents and members of the LGBT community stood shoulder to shoulder at local Boystown eatery, Nookies Tree, to try and make sense of the recent rash of crime that is plaguing the neighborhood.
For a monthly CAPS meeting that typically hosts a little more than a dozen concerned citizens, tonight was a complete change of pace as dozens upon dozens of people packed the restaurant and flowed out of the doors. With a sudden increase in muggings and attacks in the Lakeview/Lincoln Park area, it was easy to see the tension on peoples faces. The community is frightened and they are looking to the Police for guidance.
Although Lakeview has always had it's share of crime, the concern from the neighbors is that crime is on the rise and that the police are not doing enough to protect them. The police reassured the community that the recent muggings occuring on Halsted and the surrounding streets was not the same "gang" of men that have been terrorizing Lincoln Park in the past few days.
Police District Commander Kathleen Boehmer tried to lead the regular CAPS meeting by following an agenda but it quickly devolved into a community seeking answers to what they feel is an unresponsive Police department and City. Several business owners and concerned citizens shared stories of how they have repeatedly called 911 to report cases of loitering, drug sales, and gang fights to then only feel rebuffed by the police. Boehmer reassured the attendees that the most important thing for them to do was to continue reporting to 911, as that is the only way that an official record is made, and that if they felt that their calls weren't being answered that they should contact her so that she can investigate where the breakdown occurred.
One of the most common themes across the evening was that the "Community needs to take back the streets" an idea of a Citizen Patrol was raised and a sign-up sheet was passed around. Tempers were flairing as people were trying to keep their emotion in check as more and more people shared their stories of how they were personally attacked or friends of theirs were attacked and afraid to report the crimes because they didn't feel that they would get fair treatment from the police because they were transgendered. Boehmer assured the crowd that the police would not discriminate against any community member and reminded everyone that the 23rd District has an LGBT Liason that can be called on if needed.
Emotions were strong in the room and the Commander kept reminding the group that this is a community effort and that communication is a key factor in curbing crime in the area. Discussion regarding the creation of a Facebook page was also mentioned to help keep the community informed. One of the ways that you can help, and become involved, is to make sure that you attend CAPS meetings on a regular basis and not just when there is a crisis in the neighborhood, meetings are scheduled every month and open to all community members.
The 23rd District is pretty big that has a northern border of Lawrence Ave (4800N), Fullerton Ave (2400N) on the south and Clark Street on the west, and the area of Boystown is actually comprised of 4 different beats.
Monthly CAPS meetings are:
Beat 2331 - 1st Wednesday of the month, 7PM at Nookies Tree - 3334 N Halsted
Beat 2332 - 2nd Thursday of the month, 7PM, at Chicago Public Library, Merlo Branch 644 W Belmont
Beat 2333 - 3rd Thursday of the month, 7PM, at Inn at Lincoln Park 601 W Diversey
Beats 2323/2324 - 2nd Wednesday of the month, 7PM, at Center on Halsted 3656 N Halsted
GLBT Subcommittee Meeting, last Wednesday of the month, 7PM at 3608 N Halsted
If you are not sure of what Beat you live in, you should visit the Chicago Police community portal ClearPath where you can enter your address and find out all of the pertinent details. The site also has information on how you can become more involved in the community.