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Alderman’s Offer Of Help At Scene Of Shooting Met With Hostility

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Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) was greeted with hostility from two young men in the Chatham neighborhood, when he visited the 7800 block of South Champlain Avenue to offer help to local residents in the wake of a deadly shooting on the block over the weekend. (Credit: CBS)

Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) was greeted with hostility from two young men in the Chatham neighborhood, when he visited the 7800 block of South Champlain Avenue to offer help to local residents in the wake of a deadly shooting on the block over the weekend. (Credit: CBS)

Jim Williams (CBS) Jim Williams
Jim Williams, a native Chicagoan, co-anchors the CBS 2 Chicago Wee...
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CHICAGO (CBS) – Fighting crime is not so simple, and that’s something CBS 2 cameras saw first-hand on Monday, when visiting the scene of one of this past weekend’s shootings.

CBS 2’s Jim Williams went to the spot in Chatham where 19-year-old Jamal Clayton was shot and killed over the weekend.

Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) joined Williams and CBS 2 photographer Marcus Richardson in visiting the 7800 block of South Champlain Avenue on Monday, three days after Clayton was shot in a drive-by. Immediately, they were met with hostility.

“It ain’t y’all’s business,” one man said.

Sawyer attempted to talk to two young men on the block about what he could do to help the community. One of the two men claimed to be the brother of the victim. The young men cursed Sawyer and called him the “N” word.

Asked what the young men’s reaction said to him, Sawyer said, “Generation lost. I don’t know, I really wish I could say. … All I’m trying to do is help, and I’m getting a roadblock. I’m trying to help. I want to help.”

The young men demanded CBS 2’s Marcus Richardson keep his camera away from them, and had their own response for the latest crime here.

“Y’all can’t do nothing,” one of the men told Sawyer.

“You don’t know what we can do,” Sawyer responded.

“You all fixing to go shoot somebody? You all gonna shoot somebody for my brother dying?” the young man said.

“If that’s your brother dying, why didn’t you say it in the first place?” Sawyer asked them.

Sawyer is lifelong resident of Chatham, and son of former Mayor Eugene Sawyer.

Given his years of service, Sawyer said “It’s heartbreaking … for them not to know me. In all honesty, it is kind of heartbreaking, because … I was not always the most upstanding person. I’ve spent a little time in the street, and I understand what’s going on, and I appreciate that, but … even then, the hardest-core gangsters that I knew growing up knew their elected officials. They knew how important the educational process was. They knew how important the electoral process was.”

The problems in Chatham are also heartbreaking for longtime resident Gwen Collier, whose family has been in the neighborhood for more than 50 years.

“It used to be peaceful,” she said.

Now, Collier said, “It’s chaos, because you’ve got so many different kids from different communities, and they want to belong, but they want to belong to the wrong thing.”

Most of the residents in Chatham still take enormous pride in their homes, and try to reach out to young people, even those who are hostile.

“I love them. I still love my community. I remember the struggle. I know what it took us to get where we are now,” she said, choking back tears. “They don’t, and they must be educated on that. They need to know what it took us to get where we are today.”

Are some of the young people open to that kind of talk? It doesn’t seem so.

Collier said a group kids were recently in front of her home after midnight, past curfew. She asked them to go home, but they yelled for her to “get back in the house.”

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