Sep 7, 2010

Chicago gangs to top cop: You're not playing fair

Jim Allen, a member of the Vice Lords, second left, speaks at a news conference, joined by several current and former gang members, including from left, Reginald Akkeem Barry Sr., Allen, Mark Carter, and Walter 'Gator" Bradley, right. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

Several current and ex-gang members lashed out at Chicago's police chief on Thursday, calling his so-called "gang summit" initiative to crack down on crime a wasted effort that will have little effect on the streets of the county's third largest city.

After calling a news conference outside a park district building, gang members complained to assembled TV cameras about the ultimatum police Superintendent Jody Weis gave them at a recent meeting - that if gangs resort to violence, police will go after their leaders.

In response, they offered their own message to police: You're not playing fair.

"Is it possible for one person to micromanage a group?" Vice Lords gang member Jim Allen asked reporters, wearing a black baseball cap with the words, "Mess with the Best, Die like the Rest." ''We will not be responsible for anyone's actions but our own."

Weis is facing mounting criticism for holding the unpublicized Aug. 17 meeting with reputed gang leaders, even though several police departments across the country have relied on similar approaches for decades to help reduce crime.

Some reputed members of gangs like the Four Corner Hustlers and the Traveling Vice Lords said they were surprised to see Weis there after being told by their parole officers to show up. Many were visibly angry, with some even leaving the meeting, which was first reported by the Chicago Sun-Times.

The police chief has defended the initiative with the support of Mayor Richard M. Daley and U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who likened the tactic to his office holding parolee forums to warn people leaving prison that they'll be watched.

Weis told The Associated Press on Wednesday that his message was simple: "If you should resort to violence, we'll sharpen our focus on you and really, really make your lives uncomfortable. You have the ability to influence people within your sphere. You guys are in the position to stop the killing."

Weis said prosecutors at the Aug. 17 meeting threatened attendees that they could be charged under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act if killings were traced back to gangs with members attending the meeting. The federal law, commonly known as RICO, provides stiffer penalties for acts performed as part of a criminal organization such as the Mafia.

At Thursday's unlikely media event, activist Mark Carter criticized Daley and the police department, asking how gang leaders could be asked to take responsibility for their subordinates when city government leaders don't take responsibility for alleged misdeeds by their employees.

"Is the mayor going to be held accountable for the corruption that takes place under his watch?" he said at the news conference. "And the biggest gang in the city of Chicago is the Chicago police department."

Thursday's media event was attended by some participants who described themselves as current gang members, though others said they left gangs and are now community activists devoted to stopping violent crime.

Activist Wallace Bradley said the recent emphasis on gang leaders by police is misplaced, and instead, the focus of resources should be on saving those who want to improve their lives.
*****Side Note*****
I must have been living under a rock or something.  Since when did gang members start having press conferences?  I must've missed the memo.  I'm just saying....


  1. Yea, I missed that memo too. Seriously, why would you go on tv admitting to be a gang member and then acting like you don't have any control over your followers? Like seriously, who is going to believe that you're a gang leader but the people in your gang don't do what you say. Nobody.

    I think that Chicago police will have their hands full for a long while trying to clean up their streets. I think they're just going to have to start really policiing those high crime neighborhoods. And they need to create more programs targetted to keep young people off the streets.

    Idle hands lead to the devil's work as my mother used to say. Those kids want someone to show that they care. And I think with the amount of teenage crime they have the city should be more than willing to develop programs to help.

  2. Dang, I was going to say the same thing - I missed that memo too!

    But it also falls on the parents too. If you can charge a parent for truancy, how come you can't hold the parent responsible if the child is under 16 and is out on the streets committing crime when they should have their little behinds at home?

  3. lol... Ya'll don't live in Chicago I see. They're real and respectable enough to own up to what they are. They don't feel the need to make you comfortable with their definition of self.