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Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl has issued a report to residents on the city’s efforts to respond to a string of shooting incident this summer.

Here’s the text of her message:

Summer in Evanston can be one of our greatest times of year.  Especially after the difficult winter we just experienced, the summer brings with it time to spend with family and friends enjoying our community.  This summer has also brought with it the continuing challenge of confronting violence in our community.  Evanston should be a safe place to live, raise a family and do business for everyone.  However, not every Evanston resident feels safe.

The shootings we have experienced in Evanston this summer are related to ongoing disputes between a small number of individuals.  These acts of violence are not random.  The Evanston Police Department (EPD) is working tirelessly to bring the individuals involved to justice.  The challenge is not identifying the suspects, but rather having residents come forward to provide information that leads to the arrest and conviction of these individuals.

The problem of violence in Evanston is everyone’s problem.  The City of Evanston has taken several additional steps this summer to make Evanston safer:

  1. EPD has deployed additional resources to investigate these crimes and is assigning additional officers to problem areas.
  2. EPD has created a Gun Suppression Task Force specifically geared to getting guns off the streets of our community.  In the last two weeks, five arrests have been made specifically for gun possession.
  3. EPD has accelerated the way it processes crime scene evidence by joining the Northeastern Illinois Crime Lab consortium and has increased ties with the University of Chicago’s Crime Lab and its partnership with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to more quickly match crimes involving guns with suspects.
  4. EPD continues to deploy its “armored car,” a mobile surveillance vehicle which is parked in target areas to gather video of activities.  Additional lighting and security cameras have also been installed around Evanston Township High School.
  5. The City’s Youth and Young Adult Division (YYAD) has employed over 500 youth (a 320% increase from 2012) through the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program to help young people be more actively engaged over the summer.  The division has also successfully developed comprehensive workforce training programs targeted towards our most at-risk young people.
  6. The YYAD employs six young men and women who serve as outreach workers who interact directly with the youth involved in these criminal activities to connect them with job and training opportunities.
  7. The City’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department has over 4,100 youth involved in camps, in addition to other activities and programs this summer, such as lakefront sports, open gyms throughout Evanston, roller skating and ice skating.  Many youth take advantage of these activities free of charge through camp scholarships and free beach passes.
  8. The Evanston Public Library has had more than 2,200 of our youngest readers and 466 teens (an increase of 100) actively involved in our annual summer reading program. This year’s theme, “Create Your Dreams,” is providing many opportunities for youth of all ages to engage in hands-on activities, including drawing, crafts, LEGO building, STEM-related programs and book making. Family Activity Nights have brought the entire family to the library – a safe and welcoming space for everyone to read, create, explore and learn.

Evanston Public Library and the Dajae Coleman Foundation have set about to make this summer a time of reflection, learning, and discussion about youth violence. We are jointly presenting programs inspired by the book, “How Long Will I Cry: Voices of Youth Violence,” described by journalist Rick Kogan as “a stunning, stay-with-you-forever new book,” and by Booklist Online as “a book everyone should read.”  “How Long Will I Cry” presents an oral history of Chicago youth violence through the heartbreaking and hopeful stories of real people in their own words. All programs are free and open to all. A dramatic reading of the book by our Teen Theater Troupe will be followed by a conversation with Cobe Williams, a Violence Interrupter. Both programs will be presented on Saturday, August 9.

I am very proud of the work of the City of Evanston in addressing these issues, but it is not enough.

I call on all Evanston residents to get more involved in the activities in their neighborhood. 

If you see someone with a gun, call 9-1-1.

If you see any suspicious activity in your neighborhood, call 9-1-1.

The EPD also offers an anonymous text-a-tip program.  Text CRIMES (274637) with EPDTIP in message line followed by the tip information.

If you know the parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles of young people involved in crimes, talk to the adults and encourage them to talk to these young people or contact the EPD directly.

The City and a variety of neighborhood groups are hosting events for the National Night Out on Tuesday, August 5 to demonstrate our commitment to safe neighborhoods throughout Evanston.  Participate in one of these events.  For more information, go to our website, www.cityofevanston.org, or call 3-1-1.

For regular updates from the EPD, go to their website: www.cityofevanston.org/police, follow them on Facebook, on Twitter @EvanstonPD  and/or sign up for the Daily Crime Bulletin atwww.cityofevanston.org/newsletter.

Keeping Evanston safe is everyone’s business.  Please join me in taking action to keep our community safe.

Elizabeth Tisdahl
Mayor

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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2 Comments

  1. When does their problem become our problem?

    It is reassuring to know all of the important work the mayor and police are doing to respond to this problem.  However if you want this to be a community wide issue, then create opportunities for it to matter to everyone. For example, use Twigg park on Simpson for AYSO, team Evanston, baseball and have summer festivals there. It is a beautiful park and it's close to where the shootings have happened. If home owners throughout Evanston use it, they will demand improvements. They will demand answers from the city and the landlord of the over crowded apartment building on dodge near Simpson. Don't agree? Take a drive by Cabrini Green in Chicago. It ain't your parents Cabrini anymore. Until we are all impacted, sadly these problems  become other peoples problems.

    1. Ban ‘ongoing nuisances’

      I was sitting at the Tally Ho on Howard discussing the violence in Evanston with some patrons and here is the solution we came up with. First, everybody agrees – this is a feud between two extended families in Evanston and that the majority of residents in the affected neighborhoods are afraid to speak out and want these people removed from their community. Secondly, people are afraid of bystanders being killed especially with school starting up at the end of the month and the thousands of young people who will be migrating through the neighborhoods to and from school.

      We would ask the city council to pass very targeted legislation around "ongoing nuisances" or "3 nuisance strikes" that is designed to target these individual families and homes. The city could turn off their cable, internet, power and water if a threshold of nuisances was reached. This would be an easy way to make these families feel unwelcome and disconnected. This passes on the message that all of the residents – both their neighbors and extended Evanstonians – want these people GONE. 

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