At the February 24, 2015 Municipal Election, Chicago voters will DECIDEreferenda on:
Whether to ELECT the Chicago School Board
Where Do YOU Stand? Yes ______ No _______
The Elected School Board question WILL appear on ballots in the following wards: 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 40, 45, 46, 47, 49, and 50.
The Elected School Board question will NOT appear on ballots in the following wards because valid petitions were not submitted in these wards: 2, 9, 11, 13, 18, 23, 38, 39, 41, 42, 43, 44, and 48.
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Good things happen when local police officers build real relationships with people in the neighborhood and partner with community organizations. That’s been known for a long time, and there are specific terms, ideas like “restorative justice” and “racial reconciliation,” that frame out how it works.
“This is exactly how police legitimacy can strengthen our communities and relationships between the community and the police department," said Al Wysinger, first deputy superintendent of the Chicago Police Department regarding North Lawndale Employment Network's police/community partnership.
Eric Young Smith
But like any community-building program, establishing successful police-community partnerships takes time, effort and leadership. Two of the best examples in the country – programs run by LISC partners Enlace Chicago’s Little Village Youth Safety Network (YSN) and the North Lawndale Employment Network (NLEN) – were recently honored as part of the 2014 MetLife Foundation Community-Police Partnership Awards, administered by LISC’s Community Safety Initiative.
On Dec. 11, at a ceremony at Chicago Public Safety Headquarters, the Foundation presented the Excellence in Gang Reduction and Youth Safety Award to the Chicago Police Department and YSN, and the Excellence in Diversity Inclusion Award to the Department and NLEN. Each group will receive a $15,000 grant to support their ongoing public safety work.
“As a local resident, I’m proud that two Chicago partnerships have been selected this year to join the distinguished list of MetLife Foundation award recipients,” said Jennifer des Groseiliers, a managing director at MetLife. “Only 11 awards were given nationally, and they were selected from over 500 applicants.”
Breaking bread together
North Lawndale’s three-year-old program, “Building Bridges, Building Connections,” allows citizens returning to the neighborhood from time in prison to sit down over a meal with local police officers. It’s the start of candid discussions that break down preconceptions and mistrust on both sides of the table.
Run by NLEN and the Chicago Police Department Education and Training Division and Districts 10 and 11, Building Bridges begins relationships that can be crucial in future interactions. “This is exactly how police legitimacy can strengthen our communities and relationships between the community and the police department –and ultimately improve officer safety and efficiency,” said Al Wysinger, first deputy superintendent of the Chicago Police Department.
Brenda Palms Barber, the CEO of NLEN, said that the biggest “a-ha moment” with the program has been the realization for everyone involved that they have more in common than anyone might have imagined.
“All of us wake up every morning with the intent of coming home that night to our families,” she said. “And that is where we start the conversations. That’s where these dialogs become so rich and important. Because we’re starting to see one another for the fathers and brothers and sons and sisters and daughters and moms that we are.”
Data and discussions
The Little Village Youth Safety Network is a coalition of many different neighborhood groups working to prevent youth violence. Together, they provide a wide array of programs that help at-risk youth in Little Village down a positive path, including intensive mentoring, connecting youth and families to mental health resources and engaging youth in community programs.
The CPD 10th District works closely with Enlace, which manages the network, to provide police data and analytics, such as heat maps and crime statistics, that guide decisions about the programs and evaluate their results. As important, the relationship between the community groups with the local police has opened up better communications and new partnerships.
“Little Village has seen a gradual decrease in violent crime and homicides over the past decade, which can be correlated with increased work between community groups and the Chicago Police Department over that same time,” said Michael Rodríguez, Enlace’s executive director.
The Little Village Youth Safety Network offers programs that help at-risk youth down a positive path, including intensive mentoring, connecting youth and families to mental health resources and engaging youth in community programs.
As the country continues to react to and reflect on recent grand jury decisions on the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, the importance of building stronger, better ties between police and the communities they serve infused the award ceremony with a special meaning.
Palms Barber spoke of the “joy” she felt, knowing that her group’s program is making a difference and can be replicated elsewhere, and Rodríguez too pointed out that this work “should be seen as a model for positive police-community engagement.”
“Partnerships like those that we’re celebrating today do signal that progress can be made in reconciling differences, overcoming tensions and building understanding when we look at the root issues of our challenges,” said Susana Vasquez, LISC Chicago’s executive director, during her introduction to the event. “We appreciate your collective efforts to make Chicago’s communities safer, better places to live.”
If you cannot see the map, click here.
East Village marked 417 violent crimes and 1,186 property crimes in the less than two years since 2013, according to an EVA analysis of Chicago Police statistics. Half took place on a sidewalk, street or alley; fewer than a quarter in an apartment or residence.
Two out of five violent crimes were reported on the four main streets: 18% on Ashland Avenue, 12% each on Milwaukee and Chicago avenues, and 10% on Division Street. Violent crimes include homicide, criminal sexual assault, robbery and aggravated assault or battery.
Property crimes (burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft and arson) hit closer to home. Among 1,186 property crimes, 39% were in a home or apartment building, garage or yard. Streets and sidewalk accounted for 38%; 11% were on CTA trains, buses, platforms or bus stops.
Through Nov. 17, fewer crimes have been reported this year than at this time last year. Violent crime's down 11% in this tally; property crimes are 10% and lower lifestyle crimes (including criminal damage to property, narcotics and prostitution) were cut 3%.
Zoom in on the map to see crime near you, and click for case details. If you cannot see the map, click here. Maps use Chicago Police location markers; actual addresses aren't disclosed, and the markers are meant to be approximate.
For an animation showing East Village crime patterns over time, click here. At year-end we'll take a longer look. This count may not be complete.
The map's based on cases the city assigns to current CAPS beats 1212 and 1213, downloaded from the city data portal. We've added our own filter by East Village street boundaries, Division to Chicago and Damen to Milwaukee.
Chicago Police give these holiday safety tips:
- Walk confidently, with your head up, and stay in well-lighted and well-traveled areas. Pay attention to people walking in front of and behind you. Be alert in crowded areas for thieves and pickpockets.
- Park your car in a well-lighted area as close to your destination as possible. Store packages in the trunk.
- When you're away, leave some lights on at home. Before longer trips, alert a neighbor to watch your house and check for package deliveries.
For a broader look of West Town crime using the city's map, click here.
In the tiny back room of the 1,100-square foot storefront in Chicago's Albany Park neighborhood, high schoolers cluster around two bicycle repair stands. Three bikes are clamped onto the bike stands: a black road bike with its chain hanging off, a purple Huffy and a red and silver mountain bike, each with a tag detailing needed repairs.
“We’re fixing the derailleurs on this one. It’s messed up; we had to change it three times,” one young woman, Jassmyn, says about the road bike. The atmosphere in the room is one of patient concentration as the kids talk among themselves. After all, they have a job to do – an opportunity made possible by Albany Park bike shop Bikes N’ Roses.
Bikes N’ Roses has been around in some form since 2011, when members of the Albany Park Neighborhood Council decided to teach a group of kids in the community how to fix bikes. From a small collective of bike-minded residents, the program has grown into a full-fledged enterprise, complete with a business license, 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, a storefront at 4751 N. Kedzie Ave. and 20 paid employees.
Much of Bikes N’ Roses’ success can be attributed to the work of Oscar Antonio Rivera Jr., who grew up in nearby Kelvyn Park. He left a job at Cycle Smithy in Lincoln Park when he learned Bikes N’ Roses was operating without an experienced mechanic. For his work he received the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council Award during the Bike to Work Rally at Daley Plaza this past June.
“What I hope to get out of Bikes N’ Roses is what I didn’t have access to when I was a youth,” says Riviera. “A home away from home that’s a safe haven, a place to be with my brothers and sisters of the cycling family who understand who I am and why cycling is crucial to my life.”
Now, in addition to fixing bikes and overseeing day-to-day operations at Bikes N’ Roses, Rivera also supervises the 18 youths who work at the shop during the summer months through a grant from the Illinois Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). Participants in the program earn $9 an hour and qualify if they live 200 percent below the poverty line and receive some form of state-sponsored assistance.
It’s a win-win for the shop and the children. “So many youths have a passion for cycling, and with Bikes N’ Roses as a resource, they are able to expand that passion in all sorts of creative ways,” Rivera says.
Bikes N’ Roses’ summer programming begins with a two-week crash course in bicycle mechanics before the kids graduate to fixing bikes on their own, as well as helping customers in the front of the store. About half of the teens, including Jassmyn, have completed the program and serve as supervisors who mentor the new recruits.
Although many of the kids are new to fixing bikes, they seem to have a good grasp of bike repair. They deftly pluck screwdrivers and wrenches from the walls, cut chains, change tires, remove wheels and true them.
The kids mostly work on donated bikes, and with a limited inventory they often end up “Frankensteining” the bikes: replacing parts on one bike with parts from another and figuring out whether they’re compatible.
Bikes N’ Roses is not yet financially sustainable, Rivera says, but is on the way, especially now that it has a business license and can operate as a working bike shop that brings in revenue. At the moment, Bikes N’ Roses operates on money from SYEP and the Albany Park Neighborhood Council, and Rivera and the children have become adept at fundraising; the kids raised $3,000, last year through just one fundraiser.
In October, Bikes ‘N Roses moved from its location at Kedzie and Lawrence Avenues to a new nearby location in Albany Park at 3460 W. Lawrence.
Albany Park is Chicago’s most ethnically diverse neighborhood and one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the country. It also happens to be a neighborhood of cyclists. Many of them can be seen riding on the Kedzie bike lane just outside. Many Albany Park residents are immigrants from Mexico, Guatemala, the Philippines, Korea and the Middle East.
Rivera and the children do their best to give back to the local community. One Sunday, they fixed bikes for free at the nearby Global Gardens Farmers’ Market. The bikes were then donated to the workers at Global Gardens, refugees from Burma, Bhutan and Congo. “We fixed 10 bikes for them,” Rivera says. “They spoke no English, but they were in tears.”
This blog post was written by Sara Kupper, who served as a communications intern at Active Trans during the summer of 2014.