CHICAGO (CBS) — One month ago today, change came to one block in one of Chicago’s toughest neighborhoods.
It had been terrorized by a gang until the block got some new neighbors.
On this warm Wednesday morning, Bishop James Dukes visited with a neighbor and described what life is like no on 68th Place, just west of Damen in West Englewood.
“People are back on the porch,” Dukes said. “We’re cleaning up the block. We got people watering the grass.”
It has been a month since gang members forced the Robinson family out of their house. Mr. Robinson was severely beaten.
It happened, the family said because they would not allow the gang to sell drugs along the side of the house.
Bishop Dukes and other ministers moved in staying in the Robinson house, night after night.
All to send a message to the gang.
Dukes said the gangs have not given him any trouble. If fact, he found the opposite with some of them
“Most of them come wanting help,” Dukes said. “They don’t operate in the capacity that they used to.”
Joe Evans, who lives down the block, said before the ministers arrived gunfire made watching TV in the living room dangerous.
“You get on the floor,” Evans said. “Then go and sit down and do whatever you were doing.”
It is relatively peaceful now on this block, but there are ominous comparisons. Dukes worries about what will happen when he leaves.
“People are worried,” Dukes said. “If we leave, it’s almost like Afghanistan or Iraq. If we leave, will the surge come back?”
Bishop Dukes concedes because he and his fellow ministers are there now police are keeping a close eye on the block. He hopes churches and community organizations adopt other blocks in Englewood.