Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Archer Heights Civic Assoc. Continues to Rally Kolin Neighbors After Shooting

By Joan Hadac
Southwest Chicago Post
Editor and Publisher

In the wake of a drive-by homicide eight weeks ago in the
5200 block of South Kolin, four members of the Archer
Heights Civic Association canvassed the block to rally neighbors against crime.

“We need people on this block to get more involved,” said AHCA President Thomas S. Baliga as he rang doorbells with Kathy Kerwin, Juanita Beltran and Michael Kovac, AHCA’s point person on crime prevention.

The quartet climbed steps and rang doorbells at 29 residential buildings on the block, with 17 households opening their doors and 14 of them joining the AHCA on the spot—their first year’s dues of $15 covered by donations from current AHCA members.

Prior to the AHCA walkabout last week, just three households on the block were civic association members. The new members will be added to the AHCA roster of 800 households, making it the largest neighborhood advocacy group in the city. It also is the oldest, founded in 1938.

“We use situations like these to organize, to mobilize people around important issues—crime prevention being just one of them,” Baliga said. “We talk about the importance of joining and being active with a local civic association like ours, and the message has a positive impact on most people. Plus, Mike [Kovac] uses the opportunity to make people aware of the Police Department’s monthly CAPS meetings. We strongly urge our members and residents to go to CAPS meetings so they can become acquainted with the police officers that actually patrol our neighborhood and the police can get to know the people in the community.”

The block was in the news two months ago. Andres Rivera, 58, was shot in the head and killed as he was eating dinner at his home at 8:08 p.m. Saturday, May 7. Rivera was struck by a bullet that tore through the home’s front door. He died at the scene.

Police have said they believe that the shooting was gang-related, but that Rivera was most likely not the target. According to a published report, police said that at least one of Rivera’s sons is a known gang member. He may possibly have been the target.

“Almost all of the members we signed up said they moved to Archer Heights because it is a beautiful, safe area--and they were shocked to see or hear about the shooting,” Baliga said after he and the other three volunteers spent more than two hours on the block. “They also said they were grateful that we canvassed the block to assure them there are many like-minded individuals in the community.

“Some of the new members said that while the shooting was very tragic, it was not scaring them off the block,” Baliga continued. “During our time there we did notice people out with their kids and dogs, so somewhat of a sense of normalcy has returned.”

Also important, he added, “We also noticed a stepped up police presence in that block. The police are doing their job, and we as a civic group are doing our job by rallying the community, supporting CAPS and urging the people to get involved.”

He said that in addition to simply letting people know about the AHCA and CAPS, the walkabout’s other goal “was to get people to know each other on the block and get them talking to each other so that they could know who belongs on the block. With such a penetration, more neighbors will be able to talk to each other and get those that we missed
to sign up, since they now have a common talking point to start a conversation.”

The AHCA is currently on its summer break from public meetings, although the group’s officers, committees and other members continue their duties. The walkabouts
will continue throughout the summer until the Walkabout Fund is exhausted. Baliga said that any current AHCA members who want to contribute to the fund should mail a check for $15 (or multiples thereof, payable to the AHCA) to AHCA, 4444 S. Pulaski, second floor, Chicago, IL 60632 and specify the check is for the fund to pay a new member’s dues.

Those interested in contacting the group over the summer are encouraged to call (773) 843-2232 and leave a clear message that includes name, address and telephone number.

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Monday, June 27, 2016

Soukal Floral Adds a Touch of Color, Beauty to Clearing, Garfield Ridge Parks

Several parks in Clearing and Garfield Ridge have been
given a splash of color by one of Chicago's oldest and most respected businesses, free of charge.

“We saw the need and were pleased to do what we can to help the neighborhood,” said Jerry Soukal Jr., whose great-grandfather, Frank Soukal Sr., founded Soukal Floral (6118 S. Archer) a century ago, when Garfield Ridge—newly annexed to Chicago—was still mostly prairies, ponds and small farms.

The idea to ask Soukal Floral to help add a touch of beauty to local parks was generated by Al Cacciottolo, a Garfield Ridge resident and businessman.

“I was one of a number of people who recently attended a local Park District meeting designed to brainstorm and come up with suggestions on how to improve our parks,” Cacciottolo said. “I said that our parks around here are generally OK, but they look kind of plain. They could use a little color, a little cheerfulness, especially at the entrances.”

When told there were no more Park District funds to purchase and plant flowers, Cacciottolo decided to reach out to Soukal “because this is a family-owned and –operated business with deep roots in the community and a long history of service—of working with our local churches, schools and other organizations.”

To date, Soukal has added a bit of beauty to Hale Park, 6258
W. 62nd St.; Valley Forge Park, 7001 W. 59th St.; and Stars and Stripes Park, 5100 S. Nordica. Plans are in the works to add flowers to Normandy Park, 6660 W. 52nd St., and Wentworth Park, 5625 S. Mobile.

“I wasn’t surprised when Jerry said yes, because that’s what the Soukal family is all about—they have a long history of giving,” Cacciottolo added. “There’s no signage here indicating that Soukal Floral donated and planted these beautiful flowers, but I think it’s important for people in the community to be aware. My hope is this will inspire others—businesses, clubs and even individuals—to step up and make our parks and other public places nicer for everyone.”

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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

CPD Issues Burglary Alert for Clearing and Garfield Ridge Neighborhoods

Chicago Police have issued a community alert relating to six garage burglaries that occurred in recent weeks in Garfield Ridge and Clearing.

Police did not disclose what had been stolen in the various crimes.

Incident locations:

• 6100 block of South Austin on Friday, May 27.
• 6600 block of West 63rd Place on Tuesday, May 31.
• 5900 block of West 63rd Place on Tuesday, May 31.
• 6200 block of South Mason on Tuesday, June 7.
• 6200 block of South Massasoit on Saturday, June 11.
• 5200 block of South Normandy on Sunday, June 12.

Police offered this advice:

• Keep the perimeter of your property well lit.
• Report suspicious activity immediately.
• Keep doors and windows secured.
• Immediately repair any broken windows, doors or locks.
• If video surveillance is available, save and make a copy of the incident for
investigating detectives.
• Make an agreement with your neighbors to watch each other's homes for suspicious
• If you are a victim, do not touch anything, and call police immediately.
• If approached by a witness to the incident, request contact information.

If you have any useful information to share about these crimes, contact the Area Central Bureau of Detectives at (312) 747-8382 and refer to crime pattern P16-1-135.


Monday, June 6, 2016

Burke: Expand Hate-Crime Ordinance to Protect Police, Firefighters, Paramedics

Fourteenth Ward Alderman Edward M. Burke today
Alderman Edward M. Burke
announced plans to introduce an ordinance which would expand the City’s hate crimes law to protect current and former police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians (EMTs).

Burke said he will be joined by five City Council colleagues in introducing the measure: Aldermen William B. Cochran (20th), Nicholas Sposato (38th), Anthony V. Napolitano (41st), Derrick G. Curtis (18th) and Christopher Taliaferro (29th). All are former police officers or firefighters, Burke said.  

Chicago’s current hate crime law applies to individuals who target victims based on race, sex, religion, national origin, age, ancestry, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability or active or prior military status.

“We need to extend to our first responders every possible protection,” Burke said. “Each day, police officers and firefighters put their lives on the line to ensure our well-being and security. It is the goal of this ordinance to give prosecutors and judges every tool to punish those who interfere with, or threaten or physically assault our public safety personnel.”  

Under the current law, an individual may be charged with a hate crimes violation in conjunction with the commission of another crime such as an assault, trespass, mob action, vandalism, or harassment by telephone when a specific hate motive is established. 

The amendment also seeks to strengthen the City’s Hate Crimes Ordinance by increasing fines from $500 to $2,500. Violators would face up to six months in prison.

Thomas Ryan, president of Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2, which represents firefighters and paramedics, endorsed the measure.

“The job of a first responder is to serve, protect and render aid to citizens in crisis. All too often, these first responders fall victim to physical violence and personal assault," Ryan said. “This ordinance will provide added protection to first responders who risk their lives in service to others while also adding consequences for those who feel compelled to attack them in the performance of their duty.”

The aldermen proposed simultaneously a companion resolution which urges lawmakers in Springfield to expand the state’s hate crime law to similarly protect current and former law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical services personnel and military service personnel.

Violation of the Illinois Hate Crimes Law is a Class 3 or Class 4 felony for a first offense and a Class 2 felony for a second or subsequent offense.

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Four Charged in Saturday Night Robbery, Stabbing of Woman Near Archer Avenue

Just released to the press by CPD at 1:05 p.m. Monday, June 6:

Four people have been charged in connection with an armed robbery and stabbing that occurred in the 6900 block of West Archer at 10:02 p.m. Saturday, June 4.

Charged were Vanessa Gomez, 18, and Erik Solano, 19,
both of 
the 2800 block of South Pulaski; Faustino Perez, 21, of the 3100 block of South Kedvale; and a 17-year-old boy.

They are due in bond court today at 26th and California.

According to a CPD statement, "In this incident, offenders attempted to take the victim's cell phone. When the victim refused to give up her cell phone, an offender stabbed her in the abdomen. The female victim,
36, was taken to Christ

Hospital in stable condition. Detectives learned the offenders may have been connected to a previous robbery in which a vehicle was used.

"Officers located the vehicle, and subsequently conducted a traffic stop in the 2700 block of South Kostner on June 04, 2016 at 11:51 p.m., placing all offenders into custody. No further information is available at this time."

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Friday, June 3, 2016

What a GRREAT Night on Archer...

Hundreds of car-loving men, women and children turned out
Friday night, June 3 along Archer Avenue in Garfield Ridge for the third "Archer Cruise Night" auto show sponsored by the Garfield Ridge Retail Entertainment and Amusement Team (GRREAT), an organization dedicated to the economic revitalization of the Garfield Ridge neighborhood.

Plenty of oohs and aahs as men, women and children showed their appreciation for a wide range of cool, classic vehicles: from modern muscle cars to 100-year-old Fords to a 1950s ambulance to a 1960s VW bus to classic motorcycles to a quirky, custom-built wooden car.

More food trucks than ever this year, all doing a brisk business, as the success of this annual event picks up steam like a drag racer approaching the flag.

Beyond the obvious fun, the purpose of the event was to show everyone that, given a good reason, people from the neighborhood (and beyond) will come to Archer Avenue and spend money--and that therefore, it can easily be a vibrant commercial strip--and is a good choice for businesses looking for a profitable location.

We at the Southwest Chicago Post were there with a camera and are pleased to share a few images.

A great event in one of Chicago's best neighborhoods!

A tip of our cap to the men and women volunteers at GRREAT for once again working, successfully, to make Garfield Ridge a better place!

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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Crime News Update

Editor's note: The crime news reported by the Southwest Chicago Post---taken directly from Chicago Police Department incident reports---is not by any means an exhaustive catalogue of all crime reported in the Chicago Lawn (8th) District. For example, it typically does not include news of crimes committed in the eastern and southern sectors of the district---because the Southwest Chicago Post's coverage area is primarily the neighborhoods that border Midway Airport and secondarily because including the relatively large volume of crime news from elsewhere in the district would be a logistical challenge. We make this note to offer a little helpful perspective and remind everyone that while crime is definitely a concern in all parts of the district (as it always has been), crime remains relatively low overall in Sector 1. May all of us work together diligently to keep it that way. May all of us also remember that a person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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Food vendor flees armed robber
A 46-year-old West Lawn man successfully avoided being robbed by running away from a man who pointed a revolver at him and demanded his money. The victim, a mobile food vendor selling from a cart on the sidewalk in front of 4630 W. Marquette at 2:36 p.m. Monday, May 23, told police—through an interpreter—that when he fledthe scene, the offender also ran away, getting into a waiting vehicle that sped away. The would-be robber was described as a black man age 35-40, 5-foot 8 and 175 pounds, with black eyes and a dark complexion. He was wearing a beige baseball cap, a black T-shirt and black pants.

Elderly woman slammed into fence
A 78-year-old West Elsdon woman walking down a sidewalk in the 4200 block of West 55th Street was shoved into a fence by a woman at 6 p.m. Monday, May 23. The victim told police that a woman got out of a 2014 gray, four-door Ford sedan and without saying a word body-checked her into a fence. The victim said she felt pain but refused an offer of emergency medical care. She described the offender as a white woman age 40-45, 5-foot-9 and 210 pounds.

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Want to work directly with Chicago Police to prevent crime in your neighborhood? If you live in Beat 812 (see map), come to the Clearing Branch Library at 7:00 p.m. Wednesday, June 8 and attend your monthly CAPS meeting. Hear updates on crime in your neighborhood and learn how you can work with neighbors and police to make the community safer and better for all.

Unlocked garage hit by burglars
Burglars entered the unlocked service door of a garage near 62nd and Austin and stole a hedge trimmer. The crime was discovered by the victim when he and his wife returned from shopping at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, May 27. The burglary may have been interrupted, because a snow blower, leaf blower and edger were removed from their usual places in the garage and stacked by the overhead door.

Forgot to set alarm, garage burglarized
Burglars entered a garage near 61st and Meade and stole two bicycles. The crime was discovered by the victim, a 35-year-old woman, at 12:13 p.m. Friday, May 27. The victim told police her garage has an alarm system, but she did not set it when she left home.

Power tools stolen from garage
Burglars entered a garage near 50th and Leclaire and stole a lawn mower, two drills, two circular saws, a snow blower, a power washer and an air compressor. The crime was discovered by the victim, an 87-year-old man, at 1:10 p.m. Sunday, May 29. The police report gave no indication of how entry was made.

Victimized while chatting with neighbor
A 28-year-old Clearing woman told police that her home near 64th Place and Major was burglarized while she stood in front and chatted with a neighbor. The crime was discovered at noon Thursday, May 26. Stolen were three tablet computers, $100 cash and assorted jewelry.


Heavy rain muffles sound of burglars
Burglars forced open the service door of a garage near 56th and Tripp and stole assorted power tools. The crime was discovered by the victim, a 29-year-old man, at 6 a.m. Thursday, May 26. The victim told police he normally might have heard the break-in when it occurred, but that sounds were muffled by pounding rain.

GPS unit and more swiped from garage
Burglars kicked in the service door of a garage near 86th Place and Hamlin and stole a snow blower, two hand-held vacuums and a GPS navigation system from a vehicle parked inside. The crime was discovered by the victim, a 45-year-old woman, at 11:35 a.m. Thursday, May 26.

Burglary interrupted in West Lawn
The burglary of a home near 67th and Hamlin may have been interrupted. The homeowner, a 37-year-old man, told police that he discovered that some one broke the lock on his side door, but that entry apparently was not made. He discovered the crime at 11 a.m. Thursday, May 26.

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Want to work directly with Chicago Police to prevent crime in your neighborhood? If you live in Beat 814 (see map), come to Vittum Park at 7:00 p.m. Thursday, June 9 and attend your monthly CAPS meeting. Hear updates on crime in your neighborhood and learn how you can work with neighbors and police to make the community safer and better for all.

* * *

Workman back from lunch, finds burglary
Burglars broke into a garage and home near 50th and Lawler and stole a lawnmower, several purses, assorted jewelry and a boy’s communion necklace. The victim, a 38-year-old woman, told police that a 44-year-old contractor working on her home discovered the crime when he returned from lunch at 2 p.m. Thursday, May 26. 

Burglars ring up $2,500 on stolen credit card
Burglars broke the basement window of a home near 56th and Keeler and stole a credit card, a debit card, a birth certificate and a matricula card. The crime was reported to police by the victim, a 48-year-old man, at 4:24 p.m. Tuesday, May 24—10 days after it occurred. The victim said that the stolen credit card had been used to purchase about $2,500 in merchandise.

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