CHICAGO (CBS) — The West Lawn community on the city’s Southwest Side is taking up the fight against violence and vandalism.
As CBS 2’s Jermont Terry reported, neighbors in West Lawn are patrolling their own streets.
When there is a group of people gathering on a corner at 10 p.m., there’s a good sign that it might be trouble. But neighbors have been hanging out in a West Lawn park to keep an eye out for anyone causing trouble.
Drive down Pulaski Road in West Lawn and you are bound to find cars with flashers on.
“It’s about keeping our community safe,” said Mary Lou Audiffred.
Audiffred and a group of other neighbors have taken their neighborhood watch from their homes to the streets.
“We’re patrolling in our cars and we’re patrolling on foot,” she said.
When the looting started across the Chicago, the West Lawn community was determined to make sure it didn’t sit back and watch businesses get destroyed.
“Whoever felt comfortable going out in the car, they went out with a buddy and started going down the streets,” Audiffred said.
They were armed with dispatch app and a keen eye.
The West Lawn Neighborhood Watch has started patrolling in the day and has gone on well into the night for the past week and a half – at times becoming eyewitnesses to crimes.
“There was a moment when I witnessed them break a window at a local 7-Eleven,” Audiffred said. “My heart was racing. I honk my horn and called 911.”
And business owners are appreciative.
“I’ve seen some of the other neighborhoods – they’re still boarded up now,” said West Lawn business owner Marcus Hill. “But we understand we have the backing of the neighbors and the patrols.”
Hill and his wife not only own an insurance company in West Lawn, but their sport-utility vehicle is decked out with patrol signs.
“Instill some sort of peace of mind when it comes to the neighbors being able to sleep at night,” he said.
The nights are long. But the group is building police relations – and while patrolling, strengthening West Lawn too.
“They supported everybody, and it wasn’t just targeted to a single race, no, it was everybody,” one woman said.
Anywhere from a group of 10 or more stays at the West Lawn Park, at Marquette Road and Kildare Avenue, throughout the night. During the height of the unrest, they had nearly 100 people patrolling in their cars throughout the area.
Their message that they’re sending to anyone thinking about coming to their neighborhood to commit crime? The neighborhood cares.