CAPs urge street sweeps: Chicago Uptown People's Law Center

Tom Boland (
Sun, 25 Jul 1999 10:48:05 -0700 (PDT)
FWD  Chicago Sun-Times - Tuesday 20 July 1999


     By Raymond Coffey - Sun-Times Columnist

Richard Quigley lives in the Uptown neighborhood on Chicago's North Side
and works out at the same downtown gym as Mayor Daley.

   Two days ago, Quigley hand-delivered to the mayor two letters, one from
him and the other from a frustrated former volunteer in the Police
Department's CAPS community policing program.

   Both were part of a rising tide of community concern and complaint, also
aimed at Police Supt. Terry Hillard, about Town Hall District police in
Ald. Helen Shiller's 46th Ward failing to control drug dealing,
prostitution, sidewalk drinking, alley urinating and other crimes and
public nuisances.

   The tenor of the complaints is that the cops, starting with Town Hall
Commander Richard Guerrero, seem to see crime and nuisance as "just the way
things are"--and long have been--in Uptown.

   The police also tend to be wary of regularly being accused by Shiller's
political organization, particularly by Shiller operative Marc Kaplan and
his Uptown People's Law Center, of harassing poor people.

   At a recent CAPS meeting, Quigley told me, a female police officer told
the audience she "wouldn't be caught dead living in this neighborhood."

   "We've had two shootings in the past week" on the 4500 block of North
Magnolia, Quigley said, and when the matter came up at this week's CAPS
meeting, a police officer responded almost dismissively that only one was a
murder, the other "just" a wounding.

   After serving two years as co-facilitator on Beat 2311 in the CAPS
program, Margaret Wojcicki resigned in frustration and two weeks ago wrote
a letter to Hillard about why she "finally gave up."

   "Most infuriating of all," she wrote, is that "even though the same
problems and locations are discussed at every monthly CAPS meeting, the
police behave as though it is news to them."

   She told Hillard of a June 20 incident at the corner of Wilson and
Magnolia in which gang members uniformed in red T-shirts were openly
dealing drugs.

   When police happened by and Wojcicki pointed out the dealers, she said,
a policeman casually observed, "They've been there for the last 20 years."

   A week later, Wojcicki told me, she and Quigley saw the same dealers at
the same location and called police three times with the license plate
number of the car in which drugs were being stashed. The police never

   Wojcicki also recently reported seeing at least 15 people drinking on
the sidewalk in front of the Wooden Nickel saloon near the Wilson/Broadway
L stop, and then carrying a keg of beer down the street and pouring drinks
into buckets for homeless people right in front of the CAPS office.

   Police ignored it all. And when she told Guerrero about it at a CAPS
meeting, Wojcicki said, "he sat up there and smiled and shook his
head"--and left before the meeting was over.

   Quigley told me he also wrote a letter to the CEO of McDonald's about
the hamburger shop at Wilson and Sheridan and hookers propositioning him in
the drive-through lane of the shop.

   Then he got a call from the beleaguered franchise owner, who told
Quigley that every time he tries to move out hookers, junkies and other
miscreants who were "destroying" his washrooms, he is accused of harassment.

   In a letter to Chancellor Wayne Watson of the City Colleges, David A.
Rowe, CAPS facilitator for Beat 2311, has identified Truman College near
the Wilson/Broadway L stop as a troublesome location "for public drinking,
drug dealing and general disorder."

   Rowe also described the consistent refusal of Truman president Phoebe
Helm and other college officials to address the problem as "disregard for
our community."

   At this week's CAPS meeting, Wojcicki, Rowe, Quigley and other concerned
activists distributed fliers noting the shootings, drug dealing, "an
alarming increase" in house and garage break-ins, several rapes in the
vicinity of Leland and Malden/Magnolia and as many as 60 to 100 homeless
people camping out and using open fires in streets, alleys and the park
along Marine Drive.

   They also are urging Uptown residents to keep the letters going to
Daley, Hillard and other city officials.


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