|Cmdr. Eric Carter by Tonika Johnson/Chicago Reader
The Chicago Reader's own Mick Dumke paid a visit to this past Saturday's GCA meeting where Superintendent McCarthy was a no show. This was explained in an e-mail from GCA, a portion of which is posted here on this blog. This article made no mention of how many attended this event:
Hundreds of people gathered inside a Chatham church Saturday morning for a Q&A session with police superintendent Garry McCarthy. But 15 minutes after it was scheduled to start, the featured guest wasn't there yet.This article is worth a read if you weren't there. You can also read Worlee's account!
"We understand our police commander is on the way," announced Roosevelt Vonil, president of the Greater Chatham Alliance, the community organization hosting the meeting. "Let's just hope the police aren't running this late the next time we have to call them for help."
Several people laughed, others applauded, many nodded their heads, and just about everyone seemed to agree that Vonil's wisecrack cut to the truth. Some unsettling things have been happening in their neighborhood, and they wanted to know how much they could count on the police to help.
For more than 50 years Chatham has been one of the country's best-known upper-middle-class black neighborhoods—a magnet for professionals and government employees who take immaculate care of their spacious bungalows and wide lawns. People lucky enough to be able to find and afford a home there tend to stay for decades.
It's also a place where residents aren't afraid to pipe up when they don't think things are working. The wards that encompass the Chatham area are among the highest vote-producers in the city, often for independent-minded candidates.
It's no surprise, then, that following a string of brazen crimes in recent years, residents have both fretted and mobilized, decrying the "outsiders" and "thugs" responsible, questioning the city's restrictions on gun ownership, ousting their longtime alderman, and pressing city officials for more police.
Though crime totals for the police district that includes Chatham have declined from highs in the 1990s, many residents believe the stats don't tell the real story.