UPTOWN — A series of shootings in Uptown in recent months is tied to a gang conflict over drug territory, Chicago Police told worried neighbors.
At least eight people have been shot in Uptown since mid-December, according to police and media reports. The uptick is due to two gang factions feuding over drug territory, police officials for the Town Hall district said at a recent community policing meeting.
“They’re fighting for turf,” Sgt. Anargyros Kereakes said at the CAPS meeting at the Clarendon Park Community Center, 4501 N. Clarendon Ave. “It’s all about money. Money brings guns and violence.”
Uptown has seen the gun violence erupt over short periods, including three people shot in one week in December as well as shootings in back-to-back days to start the new year. There has also been at least one call of shots fired, and a gun was recovered at Montrose and Hazel avenues after a recent 911 call, the officers said.
A 1-year-old boy was shot in his head in Uptown in late January. The incident was not gang-related, however, as police said the boy was shot after his parents struggled over a gun in their Uptown apartment.
Much of the gun violence in Uptown is perpetrated by just a few people, officers at the CAPS meeting said. And much of the conflict revolves around the drug trade.
Officers have been monitoring the gang feud for some time, and know who the shooters are, said Lt. Agustin Salgado. Detectives are actively working the cases, and extra beat officers have been added to the problem areas, officers said.
“We have a lot of information on it now,” Salgado said.
Despite cannabis now being legal to possess in Illinois, shortages of product at licensed dispensaries have left a robust black market for the drug. The fact that possession of cannabis is now legal adds a wrinkle to the policing of illicit sales, officers said.
Plus, street dealers are still selling drugs like Xanax and meth, officers said.
“You have the mindset of some … that say, ‘Well, it’s just cannabis,'” Kereakes said. “Well, it’s leading to turf wars.”
Ald. James Cappleman (46th) said his office is also aware of the areas where drug dealing is a problem. Cappleman said he will use some of his aldermanic menu funds to install a camera near Hazel and Montrose, the site of a recent shots-fired report. The alderman is also asking city officials to build an app that would make reporting crime, particularly on the CTA, easier and safer.
While police seek to arrest the gun offenders, Cappleman said he has made personal appeals to some neighborhood drug dealers, even giving them pamphlets on jobs programs for ex-offenders and offering to drive them to training centers.
But with a robust drug market, the dealers aren’t looking for a career change, Cappleman said.
“All the drug dealers, they know me well,” Cappleman said at last week’s CAPS meeting. “They’re not taking the advice. They get a lot more money selling.”
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