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Wicker Park Residents Voice Concerns Over Homeless And Graffiti

Graffiti on a truck: renuer
Image by Franco Folini via Flickr

Wicker Park residents told police last month that they are tired of being harassed by the homeless on sidewalks, especially outside of convenient stores.

The police met with residents during a Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy meeting for beat 1424 at the Wicker Park Field House, where they said there were already plans in motion to get the homeless under control.

Linda Flores, 14th District Police Commander, said the homeless tend to loiter on sidewalks more as it gets warmer, and she has already instructed her officers to keep an eye out for homeless people behaving aggressively.

“They were out there last year, and they’re starting to come out again, so we’re trying to get a handle on it,” Flores said.

Residents also made graffiti complaints at the meeting, saying they believe some of the vandalism may be gang related.

Steve Schoultz lives on Crystal Street and said his property has been defaced three times in the last nine months.

“I work hard to maintain my property and keep it nice, and the work it takes to restore it makes me the most angry,” Schoultz said.

Schoultz also said the graffiti was gang related two of the three times his property was vandalized.

Similarly, Jeremy Kerman, who lives on Le Moyne Street, said a tree facing his house was marked with a three-foot tall gang sign that has been there for close to a month.

Flores said the police are aware of the graffiti problem and they have made 15 arrests for it since January.Flores also urged residents to contact the police department, rather than 311, when they suspect graffiti is gang related, because doing so may help the police identify conflicts between gangs.

Police said they have seen a decrease in burglaries, thefts and arson in the last two months. However, police said they have seen an increase in assault– from 29 to 30–and drug crimes– from 15 to 30– as well as the total number of arrests made–from 44 to 47.


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