In the aftermath of recent violent crimes in the Boystown neighborhoodwhich have included physical attacks and robberiesa group of Lakeview residents is organizing a neighborhood walk and positive loitering demonstration for July 2.
"It's an educational venue for those who don't see what we see every night of the week on Halsted," said Rob Sall, a Halsted Street resident who helped organize the event. "It's also educational for the people on the streets who are causing the problems. It's talking with them, finding out why they're loitering and not patronizing the businesses in the neighborhood. Is it because they're too young? Or they don't want to go in? Or because they can't afford to go in?"
Scheduled for July 2, at 11:30 p.m., the walk will begin at the corner of Halsted and Roscoe, in the 7-Eleven parking lot. On June 18, this lot was the scene of a violent stabbing that put one Lakeview resident in the hospital with severe chest wounds.
Local activists organized similar walks in 2009 and 2010; this will be the first event for 2011. Local police officers, off-duty patrolmen, 23rd District Police Commander Kathleen Boehmer, and representatives from Alderman Tom Tunney's office are slated to attend.
"We find them positive events," said Max Bever, director of communications for Tunney's office. "It certainly gets the neighbors more involved, to see firsthand how police deal with late-night activity and also provide positive loitering so residents and neighbors can address their concerns, work together and show solidarity."
Organizers say they are not trying to point fingers at any one group, but are seeking solutions for the community. "What it really comes down to is, while this is a bar and entertainment district, it's still a residential neighborhood," Sall said.
Free safety whistles are available at 44th Ward Ald. Tom Tunney's service office, 1057 W. Belmont, at the front counter, all day Friday, July 1.
In addition, the next CAPS meeting for beats 2324 and 2331 is Wed., July 6, at 7 p.m. at the 23rd District Police Station, 850 W. Addison. There will be a discussion of proactive ways residents can keep themselves and the community safe, including organizing additional late-night walks.
The event link is at www.facebook.com/event.php.