Emanuel Defends Gang Crackdown Amid More Violence
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UPDATED 07/09/12 – 2:53 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Supt. Garry McCarthy defended their anti-violence strategies on Monday, in the wake of another weekend that saw at least 20 people shot, and criticism from some aldermen who have seen spikes in homicides in their wards.
WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports the mayor said two ongoing crime-fighting efforts have helped prevent street gangs from getting too comfortable in Chicago’s neighborhoods.
Emanuel and McCarthy said they’re in no way satisfied with the results of their anti-gang strategies, but insisted they are having an effect. While murders have spiked this year, overall crime is down, and other violent crimes have declined.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports
The mayor was on the South Side to announce $4 million in funding to tear down vacant and boarded-up buildings that could harbor gangs, and he said the city is continuing to close businesses that seem to welcome and encourage gangs.
“These vacant buildings are where gang bangers are hanging out, and drug dealers are hanging out, and they’re operating from those buildings, and you hear it constantly,” Emanuel said.
“Allowing a liquor store to operate, that is violating the law, undermines the community. Having a building that’s vacant, where gangs are operating – when the Police Department and the Buildings Department know about it – but not being able to either tear it down or board it up undermines the community.”
Although none of the victims died, this weekend was another in a long string of weekends in which at least 20 people were shot across Chicago.
Emanuel and McCarthy said there is evidence their anti-violence strategies are working, given that the 20 shootings this weekend were fewer shootings than any other weekend in the past several months.
The mayor said continuing to target vacant buildings and businesses that seem to be magnets for gang activity would help take away safe havens from gangs and drug dealers.
“Whether it’s a vacant building, a liquor store, a convenience store, or a street corner, I want to be very clear to the gangs, and the members of those gangs – you will not find shelter in the city of Chicago,” Emanuel said.
City officials released a list of 37 businesses – including liquor and convenience stores, as well as gas stations, fast food restaurants, nightclubs and even a popular Logan Square concert venue – that are considered magnets for crime.
The city Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection is recommending that the businesses’ licenses be revoked. One such store, Get Connected at 3647 W. Division St., has been targeted for license revocation since police found a gun with a defaced serial number around the corner from the store.
Altogether, nearly 20 stores could have their licenses revoked in the crackdown.
The mayor said the city is going after problem businesses in the same fashion it goes after violent street corners and known drug markets.
“This weekend, because of police actions, two liquor stores, they found guns in, and ammunition, and they’re already on the list,” Emanuel said. “In fact, the (police) Superintendent (Garry McCarthy) is one of the police officers that found one of the guns at the liquor store.”
The allegations against the businesses range from selling alcohol or cigarettes to minors to selling spoiled food, violating sanitation regulations, or even scamming customers. But the overarching problem, Emanuel said, is that the businesses attract gangs and crime.
“In a neighborhood where you’re trying to build a sense of community, these liquor stores are not a business,” the mayor said. “They’re a haven for gangbangers and drug dealers.”
Some aldermen, rank-and-file cops, and others have said part of the recent gang problem is the Police Department stopped using specialized units to target crime hot spots, and flood areas with extra cops based on intelligence about gang activity.
But McCarthy said that tactic – used heavily under his predecessor, Jody Weis – was nothing more than a quick fix.
“Saturating it is like … putting a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound. We’re not repairing anything by doing that,” he said.
McCarthy said now police try to reclaim and hold high-crime areas with community help.
WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya visited one of the businesses in the city’s crosshairs – Chicago Avenue Discount, at 5605 W. Chicago Ave. in the South Austin neighborhood. The store has been cited repeatedly for cigarette sales and deceptive practice violations.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports
There was no comment at the store on Monday, with a staffer advising waiting “’til the boss comes in… he’ll be here tomorrow morning.”
Outside the store, a man who identified himself as Mark Harris, 19, was hanging out. When asked about the claim that bad businesses draw a criminal element, he said: “I don’t really think too much about it. I just be up here.”
Harris said he comes to “cool it with my homies,” and usually stands outside the store for a few hours.
Minutes later, the young man was seen being handed something from a woman in exchange for something.
The 37 businesses on the city’s list are:
• 24 Foods, 329 N. Laramie Ave., accused of selling loose cigarettes, selling cigarettes to minors and selling cigarettes with no tax stamps.
• AM Dollar, 6407 N. Leavitt St., accused of selling loose and unstamped cigarettes and bidis.
• Amoco gas station and food mart, 7603 S. South Chicago Ave., accused of selling loose cigarettes and possessing or delivering drug paraphernalia.
• AM-PM Food Mart, 1924 E. 87th St., accused of selling unstamped cigarettes.
• BP gas station, 400 E. 95th St., accused of selling unstamped cigarettes under the counter and keeping expired items on the shelves.
• Cermak Produce, 3311 W. 26th St., accused of failing to control vermin and insects or maintain sanitation; calls to 311 reported rats and roaches and rotten food for sale.
• Cermak Produce, 1711 W. Cermak Rd., accused of failing to maintain sanitation requirements and selling expired items. Calls to 311 included a report of someone buying a package of St. Louis barbecue ribs with a live fly wrapped in the package.
• Chicago Avenue Discount, 5605 W. Chicago Ave., accused of selling loose and unstamped cigarettes and selling cigarettes to minors.
• Citgo Food and Mini-Mart, 6700 S. Cottage Grove Ave., accused of selling tobacco to monitors and possessing or delivering drug paraphernalia.
• Citgo, 5901 S. Ashland Ave., 5901 S. Ashland Ave., accused of selling tobacco to monitors and possessing or delivering drug paraphernalia. Callers also reported seeing rats in the store and claimed that the gas pumps might be rigged to overcharge.
• Citgo Fuel and Mini Mart, 8200 S. Kedzie Ave., accused of selling outdated formula and possessing or delivering drug paraphernalia. Calls to 311 indicated that the gas station sells loose cigarettes and that young men sell drugs in the parking lot from 6 p.m. until the wee hours of the morning.
• Citgo Fuel, 7114 S. Vincennes Ave., accused of failing to keep tax stamps and other records. Calls to 311 indicated that gas sold at the station was full of water.
• Citgo Fuel, 7901 S. Damen Ave., accused of violating sanitation requirements, failing to store food properly, not keeping tax stamps, possessing and delivering drug paraphernalia. Callers alleged drug sales both inside the store and outside by the gas pumps.
• Clark gas station, 5035 W. Division St., accused of allowing public drinking and selling unstamped cigarettes.
• Congress Corporation, owner of the Congress Theater, 2135 N. Milwaukee Ave., written up for failing to replace a fire pump and causing a fire hazard, and operating after permitted hours. Callers to 311 complained that the theater allows smoking inside, locks the backstage emergency exits during concerts, and lacks fire safety signs. The theater in Logan Square gained notoriety last New Year’s Eve after an 18-year-old Highland Park girl was sexually assaulted by a group of young men after being denied entry to a concert.
• Dollar Depot, 343 E. 103rd St., accused of selling unstamped cigarettes and keeping drug paraphernalia. Callers complain the store sells loose cigarettes to “school kids.”
• Dunkin’ Donuts, 800 N. Kedzie Ave., accused of failing to control vermin and insects.
• GJK Petroleum Inc., 734 W. 111th St., accused of failing to control vermin and insects, and possessing or delivering drug paraphernalia. Callers have complained that the gas pumps do not work correctly.
• Halsted Discount, 12301 S. Halsted St., accused of selling tobacco to minors and selling unstamped cigarettes. Callers also allege the store exchanges food stamps for cash.
• Jamaica Food and Liquor, 4252 S. Cottage Grove Ave., accused of selling tobacco products to minors.
• Laristos nightclub, 606 E. 75th St., accused of not having liquor liability insurance, not complying with food establishment regulations, and defying an order to close. Callers have complained about overflowing dumpsters. The nightclub made headlines when four men were shot outside back in February 2010.
• Lawrence Discount Enterprise, 3737 W. Lawrence Ave., accused of illegal conduct. This strip mall, called Frontier Plaza, includes three storefronts, and its owner have been accused by complainants of running an illegal nightclub with food, tobacco and liquor as late as 3 a.m.
• Marathon gas station, 6124 S. Ashland Ave., accused of failing to control vermin and insects and selling unstamped cigarettes. Complainants allege the gas station is infested with rats and sells two loose cigarettes for $1.
• McDonald’s, 207 E. 35th St., accused of failing to control vermin and insects, mishandling food and not complying with city regulations. Complainants reported dead and live insects by a juice machine and a cockroach in a drink.
• McDonald’s, 2609 S. Kedzie Ave., accused of failing to control vermin and insects. Callers reported rats everywhere, including the children’s playground area.
• R&G Miller Inc., owners of the 939 Club at 939-941 N. Pulaski Rd., accused of disregarding an order to remove padlocks from the first floor, overoccupancy that warranted police action, and operating after a cease and desist order.
• SAA Food and Liquors, 2561 E. 75th St., accused of failing to control vermin and insects and a sounding a false burglar alarm. Complainants claim the store sells liquor and tobacco to minors.
• Armando R. Sanchez, owner of Carniceria y Taqueria Tierra Caliente at 1402 N. Ashland Ave., accused of having a defective staircase and failing to maintain its grease container. Callers complained of standing water and meat being illegally cured in the basement, and “very unsanitary conditions.”
• Sid’s Lounge, 2340 W. 69th St., accused of selling unstamped cigarettes and selling tobacco to minors.
• South Shore Produce, 7900 S. South Shore Dr. accused of marking prices deceptively, fraud in connection with sales, and sanitation violations. Complaints against the store include overserved patrons, narcotics and noise.
• Subway, 816 N. State St., accused of sanitation violations include an overflowing garbage can. Callers to 311 have reported getting food poisoning from the sandwich shop and have noted a lack of air conditioning and refrigeration.
• Subway, 9518 S. Halsted St., accused of sanitation violations and failing to control vermin and insects. Complainants reported “bugs coming out of sandwiches that we were eating” and a restroom that had been out of order for a whole year.
• Sweet Tart Inc., owner of the Sweet Tarts Candy Shop, 1559 S. Homan Ave., accused of selling unstamped cigarettes and selling cigarettes to minors.
• Three Stars Liquors, 310 N. Kostner Ave., accused of fraud in connection with sales and violations in price displays, among other allegations. Callers have alleged sales of alcohol to minors.
• Tony’s Finer Foods, 2500 N. Central Ave., accused of deceptive practices. Employees allege inaccurate sales, unsanitary conditions, and mouse and roach infestation.
• Tony’s Finer Foods, 3607 W. Fullerton Ave., accused of deceptive practices. Callers accuse the store of keeping outdated meat and spoiled milk, and overcharging customers.
• Tony’s Finer Foods, 4137 N. Elston Ave., accused of selling unstamped cigarettes, selling cigarettes to minors and selling expired goods. Callers to 31 have reported finding pieces of wood in coffee cakes, and rodents in the store.