Residents and Students Reflect on Crime and Violence in Rogers Park

By Victoria Gonzalez and Kate Perschke

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Chicago Police Department squad cars stationed outside of Loyola University Chicago on Sheridan Road in Rogers Park. Photo By Kate Perschke

On June 27, the city was on high alert when a 17-year-old boy had been shot and killed in the Rogers Park neighborhood. 

Quintin Brown was tragically murdered on a Thursday afternoon when he was standing near the 6900 block of North Glenwood Avenue. Earlier that day, a 33-year-old unnamed man was shot during an attempted robbery on the 2800 block of West Devon Avenue. The victim was later admitted to Saint Francis Hospital in Evanston and was in stable condition, the perpetrator was not caught or identified.     

 A burst in crime has brought Rogers Park back to the forefront of the larger conversation being had about the abundant gun violence taking place in the city of Chicago, even though recent data released by the Chicago Police Department suggests that crime has been down in the Rogers Park neighborhood. 

According to the FBI’s uniform crime reports, which was analyzed by Area Vibes (an independent neighborhood ratings site), Rogers Park’s overall crime rate is 22% higher than the national average, and residents have a 1 in 30 chance of being a victim of property, violent or other crimes.

Twenty-two percent seems like a lot but I really don’t feel like crime is decreasing in the area, I just feel like its very steady, it’s not more serious and it’s not getting worse, but it is sort of plateauing I would say,” said Margaret Malinowski, a resident of the Rogers Park area.

University of Illinois at Chicago professor of Criminal Law and Justice, William Patrick McCarty, commented on these numbers from the FBI: “It doesn’t shock me that Rogers Park… [has] rates higher than the national average, because when you think about it there are a lot more smaller places than bigger places…so while Rogers Park is 22% higher than the [national] average, overall that is skewed because there are so many small places… with minuscule rates of crime.”

McCarty, well versed in Chicago crime, followed up by saying, “I don’t think it’s necessarily meaning that Rogers Park is dangerous,” saying the numbers are skewed because of concentration of people when discussing the national average of crime. McCarty added, “I never want to minimize the effect of crime… because still there’s five-six-hundred murders in Chicago, for example, every year and that’s a tremendous loss of life.”

The communities of Rogers Park and West Rogers Park are often regarded as a hub of a unique blend of cultures. Home to Loyola University Chicago, Rogers Park attracts young, college students. Devon Avenue offers a beautiful array of Indian and Pakistani cuisine. West Rogers Park is home to a majority of the city’s Orthodox Jewish community.

Amy Hernandez is a former employee of the Bernard Horwich Jewish Community Center located at the intersection of Touhy Avenue and Pratt Avenue in West Rogers Park. She discussed the strong ties within the community.

There was a feeling of safety in the community that I worked, it was a close-knit area and the families all knew each other,” Hernandez said.

She also explained how she never felt unsafe, but would take the necessary precautions of “[making] sure my car was locked and … [letting] someone know when I was on my way home or on my way to my car so they would know if something happened.” 

After the 2018 serial killings of Douglas Watts, 73, and Elliyahu Moscowitz, 24, the Rogers Park community and the city of Chicago as a whole were shaken. One year later, the killer is still at large.

Madison Savedra, a reporter who covers the crime beat for Loyola’s student paper the Loyola Phoenix, said students on her campus have mixed feelings about safety.

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A Loyola University Chicago Campus Police car is stationed outside a building on campus for morning patrol. Throughout the campus, there is a presence of safety measures such as campus police and emergency call systems. Photo By Kate Perschke

“As far as students, it comes in waves,” she said. “If there is a serious crime off campus then everyone gets a little weary or on edge about safety. Last October, a lot of students said they were scared about walking around the neighborhood because of the shooting that happened in the middle of the day.”

With the crime statistics that Rogers Park has been seeing as of late, some students and residents say they need to take extra precautions. 

“I have a policy of going places in pairs, staying on streets that are pretty well lit, I have a bunch of roommates so I try to employ the buddy system and travel together with them,” Savedra said. “Around the time of the Rogers Park killer, there was a Facebook group created called Roam RoPo to promote students traveling together.”

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Google Trends Analysis By Victoria Gonzalez

The headlines and news reports regarding what came to be known as “The Rogers Park Killer” kept the city on its toes. As seen in the Google Trends analysis of the search term “Rogers Park Killer,” Chicago residents were vigilant and interested in what was going on with the case, Google searching the term frequently and more so on days that the case made local headlines. 

MAP: Rogers Park Firearm Crimes 2019: Violence and crime in general have been rampant in the area, as seen in the Google MyMaps above, which maps out crime activity over the past year in Rogers Park.

The Facebook group, Roam RoPo, short for Rogers Park, is one of the many efforts made by Loyola students and the university to promote personal safety. The university provides many safety services, with programs such as a late-night bus ride akin to Uber and a safety walk program that lets students call for company on the walk home. The most prominent of campus safety features is the Blue Light System.

Blue emergency call systems act as a beacon of safety for Loyola students, providing a direct intercom to Campus Safety police. The blue lights shine throughout campus, from the lake to the Red Line Loyola stop, to the library and in front of the residence halls.

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Emergency blue light systems are placed throughout Loyola University Chicago’s campus and provide a direct contact with the police when the intercom is pushed. Photo By Kate Perschke

Savedra commented on the effectiveness of the safety measures campus provides, saying, “As far as what campus safety does, they are transparent about the crime and danger on campus and provide resources for students. But in the past the Phoenix has reported on where they can improve…” However, the general consensus of students is to take additional personal safety steps to protect themselves on and around campus. 

On the other hand, some residents say they don’t see the need to take extra steps because the statistics and headlines are all too familiar. But they are noticing small things changing in their community. 

“I haven’t felt the need to, I mean when an area has had those stats for a significant period of time there’s just a way that it functions right?” Malinowski said. “But there have been things that have changed, a security camera was put up on my street for no specific or current reason, meaning no serious crime has taken place right there in that spot, but it was still put up.”

“The people who used to sell fruit outside of my apartment have been moved, it was a small fruit stand run by two people who I’m sure had a license, and they were moved after a period of time for no apparent reason. There hasn’t been an increase in police activity, but there have been more subtle things like that happening,” Malinowski explained.

With crime and violence in the neighborhood, residents say they think more needs to be done because what is currently being implemented is not addressing the important issues.

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The Red Line runs through Loyola’s campus, often a hub for theft and crime. Photo By Kate Perschke

“There’s a cop that sits outside the elementary school, right across the street from the train station,” Malinowski said. “They focus far more on the El than they do on the elementary school, and that’s pretty much a good look at what’s happening in my area. It’s definitely a concern of things that are much more bureaucratic, like fare hopping, rather than watching out for elementary school students.” 

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10 Must See Chicago Museums

By Victoria Gonzalez

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The Windy City is often known for its night life, with popular bars, clubs, and restaurants scattered throughout the downtown area. But what is sometimes over looked is its second to none day life. Chicago’s museums are a benefit that residents and tourists alike get to enjoy and partake in!

The google my maps created reflects Chicago’s top 10 museums to visit, according to Trip Savvy. The popular travel guide site compiled their must see list of museums that span across the Chicagoland area. These highly visited places included locations like the Loop, The Magnificent Mile, and Lincoln Park.

Ranking at #5 on the list was the National Museum of Mexican Art, which showcases the rich history of Mexican and Latino culture. The Art Institute of Chicago came in at #3 on the list, a family fun spot that features impressionist, post-impressionist, and American art collections. And at the #1 spot is the beloved Shedd Aquarium which highlights and engages you in ocean life and waterways. 

Analysis: Chicago’s Polar Vortex Shines a Light on Good Samaritan Candice Payne, Trudeau Surpasses Trump in Searches in Wake of Scandal

By Victoria Gonzalez

Chicago’s Polar Vortex Shines a Light on Good Samaritan Candice Payne

If you are from the Chicago land area then you may remember the winter storm that took over our city earlier this year. At the tail end of January 2019 Chicago began to brace itself for a polar vortex. The public anticipated and faced degrees down to 20 below, which resulted in schools, workplaces, and businesses all shutting down for the day(s).

The extreme temperatures posed dangerous conditions for the general public, but a more especially vulnerable group was being forgotten. While most citizens had the option to bear the cold in their homes, Chicago’s homeless population had no such luxury. Reports began coming in on people dying in the frozen streets, and by the Sunday after the initial hit more than a dozen lives had been claimed by the frigid temperatures. Cue Chicago native Candice Payne.

Payne, just like many others heard the news of homeless people dying on the streets of Chicago. But instead of taking a passive sigh and moving on with her life, she decided to do something. Candice charged 20 hotel rooms to her personal credit card for the Amber Inn on the Southside (the only hotel that would take them), and then went to social media to seek help in transporting the homeless to the motel. People began reaching out to help and donate, eventually making her story go viral and getting her an appearance on the Ellen show.

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An analysis of Google search data shows an increase in searches for Polar Vortex around January 27th and February 2nd of this year. Around February 3rd to the 9th you begin to see searches for local hero Candice Payne, which coincides with her good deed and appearance on the Ellen Degeneres show. Payne garnered a lot of local buzz shortly after the snow storm which is supported by the Google Trends analysis. 

 

Trudeau Surpasses Trump in Searches in Wake of Scandal

Ever since the 2016 United States election cycle president Donald Trump has been dominating google searches, even in Canada. His notorious tweets and off the cuff remarks kept the populations attention and need to keep up to date with his latest scandal. That concept supports the following Google trends analysis of searches for Trump vs Trudeau in Canada in 2016 and so on. But all of that changed earlier this week.

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On September 19th the prime minister of Canada addressed the media aboard his campaign plane a day after news broke of a photo of him in blackface. Trudeau admitted to “darkening” his face for an Arabian Nights themed party back in 2001. In that same statement the prime minister revealed a separate instance of blackface that happened when he was in high school and wore blackface to perform the well known hit Day O (Banana Boat Song). As of now a total of three instances of blackface have been verified.

An analysis of Google search data shows an increase in searches for Trudeau the same day that news broke about his blackface incident. That same day he surpassed Trump in searches, who had been dominating Trudeau just days before in Canada’s Google searches.

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We can all assume that this is not how Trudeau wanted to gain popularity over Trump. Especially considering that he is in the early stages of re election. Will the multiple cases of Blackface be the downfall of Canada’s liberal savior? The Google search data can tell us one thing… Trudeau is a hot topic right now and for all the wrong reasons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Funding Disparities Between the South and North Side Continue for Chicago Public Schools

By Victoria Gonzalez and Alexia Herrera

With many people comparing Trump Administration Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to Harry Potter’s villainous Professor Umbridge for her suggested cuts to the educational budget, Chicago finds itself as part of a  large-scale conversation regarding public education and funding in the United States.

Chicago Public Schools has a long history of disaffection when it comes to adhering to the needs and demands of teachers, students, and its general public, with big community names like Chance The Rapper (who recently donated $2 million to CPS) speaking up about issues he has with CPS and its budget cuts and closings.

In recent years, it was poor relations between CPS and the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), when in 2015 CPS announced it would not support a one-year extension to the deal they had settled on after the CTU’s seven-day strike back in 2012, which resulted in another possible strike looming, but never actualized that year once both parties came to an agreement.

Although the CTU and CPS are currently working with an agreed upon contract, teacher sentiments and concerns are still relevant and consistent.

“I currently have a 32 students to 1 teacher ratio in my classroom,” said Marta Ramirez, who teaches 7th grade english at Hamline Elementary school in the Back of the Yards neighborhood on the South Side. It’s one of the schools affected by the city’s public school budget crisis.

“Some of these students are not receiving the attention that they need and as hard as I try, I cannot give 32 students at a time the individual help that they need to succeed.”

Ramirez values her students’ time and education, but like many other teachers, she said she feels the district does not value herself or the students as much as they should. Budget cuts are affecting Ramirez and her classroom through a limited access to resources — not having the right textbooks, large classroom sizes, or enough teachers to support the large student body in general.

The cutbacks are apparent (see infographic) in the annual budget. South Side school Pilsen Academy dropped from $4 million in 2017 to $3.4 million in 2018.

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“It’s just not fair to the students, that their peers on the North Side are getting the education and resources they need but somehow my students are deemed undeserving,” said Ramirez, adding that she believes that equally sharing the CPS budget between the North Side and South Side could help provide under supported students with the materials and attention that they need.

The stark differences in funding between the North and South side public schools is blatant, especially when you compare funding for the equipment expenses. As you can see in the infographic, the budget for equipment expenses at Northside College Prep is $109 thousand while Pilsen Community School receives only $50 thousand.

There are also various nonprofits attempting to fight the systematic inequalities of CPS funding. Kenwood Oakland Community Organization [KOCO] is one of many nonprofits that fight for justice.

“An Englewood school was going to close until KOCO pushed and fought until the city budget found $34 million,” said Jawanza Malone, the executive director for KOCO.

Malone finds that students in South Side neighborhoods like Englewood and South Shore are not receiving the same funding that schools on the north side are unless organizations like KOCO call them out and hold them accountable for their actions.

When asked about the effect of funding on students resources, Malone said,

Students can’t take books home, how can they get educated if they can’t bring their education back home?”

KOCO is a testament to the fact that equal educational funding is not always a given on the south side. The sentiment is shared by Chance the Rapper in the same interview, where he believes that if the city wants to see real change, then neighborhoods need to unite, “It starts on the my neighborhood, my ward, my block…It starts with block club presidents. It starts with starting a block club. But all those levels are accessible, you know?” It is clear to see by the google my maps graphic that these demands are necessary because the south side has plenty of Chicago Public Schools, that deserve better funding and an overall improved budget plan.

 

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By analyzing CPS’s budget data, it is evident that there is a serious funding disparity taking place among Chicago Public Schools. The numbers are further supported by the viewpoints and experiences of south side CPS teachers and students. Maricel Ortega from Theodore Roosevelt High School, who’s art program was affected by the lack of funding recalls,

“There was a music program that I was supposed to be a part of and learn how to play the drums and they were about to start but they didn’t have enough funding to go through with it. A lot of books also needed updating.”

20 Top Ranked Cities To Go Cycling

By Victoria Gonzalez

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photo by https://www.pariscityvision.com/en/paris-morning-bike-tour

According to data collected in regards to the top 20 best bike cities, Hamburg, Germany is giving Portland, Oregon and all of it’s Hipsters a run for their money. Hamburg was ranked number one for its views of historic architecture and their high rate of cycling, especially in local neighborhoods. For those seeking a longer distance to enjoy the view, there is an approximately 160 mile bike path from Hamburg to Berlin, which ranked 11th for the cities investment in getting citizens to bike through infrastructure advancements.

Paris, France was ranked number two, the list accrediting the city’s bike share system which remains a success for “an impressive number of stretches featuring bicycle infrastructures.” Japan has also seen success in biking with the city of Nagoya ranking number six for its implementation of biking infrastructure to foster its’ populations continued desire to bike. The ranking pointing out that “Fifteen percent of the population ride bicycles for transport and the national government has a goal of 25%.”

The United States was left out of the top 20 ranking, leading most to question if our cities are doing their job in investing in biking infrastructure and more importantly a greener future. If the US wants to compete with the leading global players, it will really need to make an investment like Budapest, Hungary. The list ranked Budapest top three stating that it was “One of the leaders among Emerging Bicycle Cities, Budapest is getting it’s brain wrapped around infrastructure and development of a sensible network for bicycle users.”

 

Pilsen and Gentrification Over Time

By Victoria Gonzalez

photo provided by: http://theboothexp.com/2019/01/neighborhood-spotlight-pilsen/

Pilsen, a primarily Latino neighborhood located on the Southwest side of Chicago, is known for being filled with fun cultural activities and restaurants; you have Café Jumping Bean, the National Museum of Mexican art, and Honky Tonk BBQ just to name a few. But things have not always been this way, commonly referred to as the “heart of Chicago’s Mexican community,” Pilsen did not rise in popularity until recently. Chicago has been a destination for Mexican immigrants since the 1910s, but strict immigration laws of the 20’s and 30’s halted Mexican immigration. At first being unwelcome, Mexican immigration eventually picked up again in the 60’s and 70’s. But expansions to the University of Illinois at Chicago campus forced Mexican immigrants’ south, eventually calling the Pilsen neighborhood home.

With colorful murals and taquerias on the street corners, Pilsen almost feels like a part of Mexico. Photo: IBL
Photo provided by: https://scandinaviantraveler.com/en/places/discover-pilsen-like-a-part-of-mexico-in-chicago

Pilsen today is still rich with Mexican art, food, and overall culture, but gentrification is again taking a toll on the prevalence of Mexican residents. According to a 2016 study conducted by the University of Illinois at Chicago that researched the changing racial demographics of Pilsen, over 10,000 Latinx people have had to leave Pilsen since the year 2000 due to the repercussions of gentrification. Meanwhile Pilsen’s White population grew by 22%. Many community organizers see nothing wrong with making Pilsen a beautiful and well funded place for people to live, the problem comes with the fact that residents who have lived there for decades and dealt with under-funding, are now being displaced to make room for the “global elite.”

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As you can see from the Google Timelapse of the Pilsen neighborhood, it has been rapidly gentrifying for years. Pop ups of the latest bars, restaurants, and living units have drastically upped the cost of housing and living in that area. The rapid development that you can see in the Timelapse is indicative of the thousands of Mexican residents that have been forced out of their community. The image of the Timelapse hones in on Thalia Hall, one of the oldest historical landmarks in the neighborhood. That area too is being quickly developed all around and displacing lots of families. Improvements are always welcomed and needed, but in the case of the Pilsen neighborhood and any other gentrified community, it is important that development does not displace the people.

Craft Breweries Helping the Economy

By Victoria Gonzalez

It’s no secret that the US economy can always use some help, which is why the success of American craft breweries has been so important. Small and large independent American craft brewers contributed $76.2 billion to the U.S. economy in 2017. They also added more than 500,000 total jobs, 135,000 jobs at breweries and brewpubs.

You can see the impact of these breweries on a state level as well. California had an $8.2 billion economic output, Pennsylvania had a $6.3 billion economic output, and Texas had a $5.3 billion economic output. Other states also saw economic growth thanks to craft breweries in 2017.

New York and Florida were close competitors when it came to economic output, with outputs of $4.1 billion and $3.6 billion. Its evident through the infographic that craft breweries have really helped boost the US economy and improved economic health state wide.

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