From Milwaukee Renaissance

Godsil: LetterToSparkChicagoInternetEmpowerment

Dear Tom,

I am from Milwaukee and am very active in neighborhood internet organizing. There are neighborhoods in Milwaukee with 200 to 400 families connected on-line. When something bad or good happens in these neighborhoods, people learn about it quickly and begin to talk and plan to meet and mobilize. It’s not perfect but we have made a huge impact on the power of our neighborhoods to promote and defend our interests.

I would very much appreciate your letting me know about the time it took for the community of Hyde Park citizens to be notified of these attacks and how that notification took place. I was a student of Saul Alinksky who brought some great neighborhood organizing concepts to St. Louis. If Chicago does not have neighborhoods intensely connected in “social minds on line,” I would very much like to help share what Milwaukee has learned.



At 09:51 AM 4/15/2005, Megan Wines-Godsil wrote:
Hyde Park attacks are tied students; police see a

By Hal Dardick and Tom Rybarczyk
Tribune staff reporters
Published April 15, 2005

Nearly a third of the 33 people arrested in group
attacks on Hyde Park pedestrians were students at
Kenwood Academy, a public high school in the area,
police said Thursday.

Some of the others arrested in recent weeks in
connection with the 39 attacks include Chicago
grade-school students, said Prairie Area Police Cmdr.
Adrienne Stanley.

“The commonality we saw is that they were either high
school or grammar school students,” she said. “We
figured it must be a trend that’s going around in the

Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) said the school has held
assemblies the last two days with police present to
stress the seriousness of the recent crime spree.

“I know the school is very concerned about it,”
Preckwinkle said. “They have tried to make it clear to
people how seriously both the school and police take
these incidents.”

Attacks in the neighborhood have happened before, said
Bob Mason, executive director of the South East
Chicago Commission, a community group that has been
working closely with police to address the issue. But
Mason has not seen anything like the wave that started
earlier this year and led to 33 arrests on robbery,
mob action and battery charges.

Of the 39 attacks, 22 involved a robbery, three
involved battery with a weapon and 14 involved battery
without a weapon. Twelve attacks took place near
midday, when sophomores, juniors and seniors are on
lunch break at Kenwood, Mason said.

Former and current students had several guesses
Thursday for the recent rash of attacks, but none
could provide a definitive answer for the robberies
and beatings that started Jan. 31.

“It’s worse this year,” said Brandi Lewis, 16, a
Kenwood student. “This started this year for some odd
reason,” said Octavia Jones, another 16-year-old
Kenwood student. “I guess they got bored or

There was only one point that all students agreed on:
The students involved in the attacks were not gang

Stanley said there have been no repeat arrests in any
of the cases.

“I don’t believe these are a bunch of criminals
walking around,” she said. “I just think it’s one of
those things that teenagers do now. It’s one of those
things they decided is, for lack of a better word, fun
to do.”

The attacks, which have resulted in no major injuries
but have alarmed local residents including University
of Chicago students, involve groups of mostly
teenagers who batter their victims and sometimes take
personal belongings, according to a U. of C. alert.

The most recent attack occurred April 6 when seven
teenagers, including six 15-year-old Kenwood students,
attacked a 28-year-old man, chipping his tooth,
according to police reports.

In an earlier case, two Kenwood students attacked and
robbed a 31-year-old woman pushing a stroller, reports

Mason said victims have been mostly men. They range in
age from 13 to 62, with most in their 20s, he said.

“This kept going on,” he said. “It was very, very
unique in my 22 years here. I’ve seen nothing like

Mike Vaughn, a spokesman for Chicago Public Schools,
said students arrested while on lunch break likely
would face disciplinary action. Those arrested outside
school hours also could face discipline if they were
arrested for violent acts that could show they are a
danger to others in the school.

“It seems to have died down, hopefully due to the
arrests,” Stanley said. “In addition to that, you are
also going to face suspension and expulsion for that.
Hopefully, we will see an end to this kind of

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