CHICAGO (CBS) — Arguments over the appropriate response to the fatal shooting of a teacher over the weekend derailed a community rally Monday night in Rogers Park.
Chicago police organized the event at Morse and Glenwood, near where Cynthia Trevillion was killed in a drive-by shooting Friday night.
At least 300 people showed up. The meeting started with encouragement from the police for residents to sign up for block clubs, attend beat meetings, and support “positive loitering” – a tactic in which residents gather at a specific location to send a message to criminals that it belongs to the community.
One of the founders of the movement was heckled during his comments, from a woman who called the “positive loitering” tactic racist.
Supporters yelled back at those interrupting – telling them to be quiet and saying the tactic has helped clean up the neighborhood.
Glen Brooks, director of public engagement for the Chicago Police Department, tried to quell the fighting.
“We are not going to shout each other down. We don’t have to agree,” he said.
One thing both sides seemed to agree on is that the answer to growing violence in Rogers Park can’t come from police.
Brooks said the only way to get rid of troublesome people and businesses is through support from the community.
Rogers Park resident Megan Selby called the meeting absurd, and said it didn’t represent the true makeup of the neighborhood.
“Why is it that people of color didn’t show up more? It’s not because they’re not here. It’s because there are cop cars surrounding this neighborhood that went up and down the streets beforehand with their sirens on, alerting people that this meeting was going to happen. How many people of color are going to feel safe here?” she said.
CeaseFire worker Ralph Edwards said he understands why people were upset.
“When one person gets killed in Rogers Park or Uptown, we need this same platform for everybody, and when somebody puts a platform here due to skin color, it profiles people,” he said.
Ald. Joe Moore (49th) said there are plenty of ways for residents to help without involving police, such as mentoring a child, joining a parent safety patrol, or becoming a court advocate to support victims of violence in court.
Jim Ginderske, who ran against Moore years ago, was among those who yelled, saying the police and politicians only want to solve the immediate crisis and not the problems that lead to it, such as closing a nearby mental health center and disinvestment in local public schools.
“They talk about positive loitering. There were people all over this street the other night. Somebody pulled up and fired 25 bullets into that crowd. Positive loitering is not going to solve these issues,” he said.
Moore said he wished the meeting had ended differently, but feels that people got the message.
“I’m disappointed that there are a few individuals who seem to believe that their free speech is more important than other people’s free speech, but that’s alright. I think the message came through that people need to become more involved,” he said.
The community rally came a day before Trevillion’s funeral. Family and friends were set to gather for a memorial for the late teacher at 10 a.m. at Christian Community Church in the Lincoln Square neighborhood.
Trevillion, a teacher at the Chicago Waldorf School in Rogers Park, was shot and killed while walking to dinner with her husband Friday evening.
Investigators organized the rally in response to Trevillion’s murder, and sought community input on how to respond to recent gun violence in the area. A teenage boy was critically wounded when he was shot in the back only a few blocks away 30 minutes before Trevillion was killed.
Police said there have been several other incidents in the neighborhood in the past few months.
“We hear about things going on, but this was a big one, and it’s an area that has really been fixed up, and people are trying to make business to work, and we just feel bad. We just want to be able to help,” Rogers Park resident Denise Ellis said.
A larger celebration of Trevillion’s life has been planned for Saturday afternoon at the Waldorf School.