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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Florida Panhandle


    Updated: Tuesday, 13 Oct 2009, 4:29 AM CDT
    Published : Tuesday, 13 Oct 2009, 4:29 AM CDT
    People Afraid To Come Out Of Their Homes
    Joliet, Illinois - Tony Ray was talking with a police officer outside the Forest Park Community Center in Joliet a couple of weeks ago when the two men suddenly heard the crack of gunshots. Ray, executive director of the center, headed to safety inside the building. The officer ran to investigate. Sadly, the incident is not all that uncommon. There have been 165 shootings so far this year, almost as many in all of last year. Murders are up, too. There have been nine so far this year compared to six in all of 2008. That has community leaders like Ray and the Rev. Herbert Brooks concerned. The two men remember the gang wars of the 1980s and they don't want to see a return to the bad old days. Ray hears from residents who are afraid to travel the Forest Park area's streets at night. "It's definitely increased," he said of the recent rash of violence. "These kids (who are shooting guns) do not understand the ramifications if they hit somebody." Brooks, who is a Will County Board member and has been pastor at St. John Missionary Baptist Church in Joliet since 1990, wishes he could intervene before the trigger is pulled and a shot is fired in anger. He'd also like to be able to hold up a hand and say, "Young man, you don't have to do it.'" The key, he believes is for the community to come together as it did years ago to figure out solutions. "I think we need to be proactive," he said. "Unfortunately, we're often reactive." To that end, Ray does what he can to reach out to people on the city's northeast side. But the violence is all around the Forest Park center. One longtime resident, who did not want to be identified, said she is afraid to travel on Woodruff Road at night because of the rampant crime. There have been more than a dozen shootings in the neighborhood and one murder, she said. "People in this neighborhood are seniors they're afraid to come out of their homes," the woman added. Ray said the gang situation isn't the same as it was in the 1980s when he worked at a local radio station and broadcast a gang summit live from the city's East Side. Back then, the gangs were organized and local officials could reason with gang leaders, he said. "What you see now is young kids trying to be tough. There's no organization. I call it cliques rather than a gang." Ray said years ago the community center once had its own police officer stationed in the building. The officer worked with area youth and got to know the community. That's no longer the case, however. The officer assigned to the Forest Park neighborhood has a much larger geographic zone to patrol and he can't stay in one spot. The city's shrinking budget has affected the center more directly, too. The $72,000 the city had provided in years past is gone. Ray said if it weren't for Silver Cross Hospital stepping in with $50,000 in funding this year, he's not sure what would have happened. The center offers preschool, youth mentoring, court advocacy, GED education and computer classes starting in January. But Ray wants more recreational opportunities for the kids in Forest Park. "For the life of me I don't know why we don't have more for them to do," he said. Hard times Ray doesn't think the economy is playing a role in the increased violence. After all, he said, "The ones doing the shooting aren't going to be working anyway." But Brooks believes the recession and high unemployment rates are partly to blame for an increase in violent crimes in the city. "Gang violence and the economy are connected," he said during an interview at his church, which is located on the city's southeast side. "... There is a lot of unrest because there are no jobs." Brooks and his parishioners have suffered the after-effects of murder. One of five men murdered in August, Ronald Jones, was the husband of church member Jessica Jones. Brooks married the couple. He knew Ronald all his life. And Brooks' 19-year-old daughter was at the Jones' house when Jessica learned of her husband's murder. "I've always tried to look and make some kind of sense of it," he said of the violence. "It's hard to fine the sense in senseless shootings. ... One murder is too many." Community leaders in Chicago are calling for parents to get involved to reduce murders and violence in that city. Brooks said the same has to happen in Joliet. "We have minors out there killing minors," he said. "In Joliet, we have 15-, 16-, 17-year-old children being shot by other 15-, 16-, 17-year-old children." Having fewer police officers on the street due to budget constraints also isn't helping, Brooks said. The police department has 32 fewer officers because of attrition and early retirement. "If there are less on the police force, obviously they can't respond and be everywhere." Brooks is trying to do his part. He added a midweek church service at 7 p.m. Wednesdays. The service is shorter and he's hoping it attracts young people. He also has a drug addiction recovery group at the church. "I don't know what more we can do.

    You're never going to reach all the people." Ray said a "lack of family" in some areas of the neighborhood also spawns violence. "I always say, it's tough to be a man when you don't see a man," he said. "... I come from a strong family, a Christian family. Those morals aren't there (today)." Brooks said although the societal problems that lead to violence sometimes seem overwhelming, area officials have to work together to stop the shootings. "We're never going to give up. We're never going to give up," he repeated. "We're never going to give up

  3. #2
    An attempt at creating paragraph breaks would have been nice.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    St. Louis/Missouri
    Quote Originally Posted by jsimmons View Post
    An attempt at creating paragraph breaks would have been nice.
    If you don't want to read it the way it was posted he provided a link to the story.

    Next time use the link instead of bashing someone who is trying to provide information.
    Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same. - Ronald Reagan

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Иєш Лєяжşєşŧăŋ
    Quote Originally Posted by jsimmons View Post
    An attempt at creating paragraph breaks would have been nice.
    Welcome to the Forum. Be polite.
    NRA Life; GOA Life; CCRKBA Life; Trustee, NJCSD; F&AM: 32 & KT
    The Only Answer to a Bad Guy with a Gun - Is a Good Guy with a Gun!
    When Seconds Count...The Police are only MINUTES Away!

  6. #5
    Gun control works everywhere it's tried, right Barack?

    The crime-ridden streets of Joliet provide a great example of how futile and useless strict gun control laws are.
    My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    MA, Away from the liberal loonies...
    It's been the case in many cities where funds have been cut for local police departments. LE has no control over what happens when the sun goes down. There is no gun control for those who steal them or obtain them through illegal means. We can hope that they will kill each other and no other innocent people. I'm sure that with some parents who cared for their children and had some say in the day to day activities most of this would not be an issue. It’s hard to stop the cycle when they keep breeding like rats and bringing unwanted life into the world. It’s hard to feel wanted and connected to the world around you when the people who brought you into it don’t care… Anyway another sad case of life for some here in America… I can’t imagine having to live in fear like that. I have to thank God for what I have and what I have worked hard for. I’d have my gun on me in bed, in the shower, on the toilet, at the table… Instead of the peep hole in the door I’d have a gun port. Ding Dong… Bang!!
    You can give peace a chance alright..

    I'll seek cover in case it goes badly..

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