As the mayor and Department of Buildings promised, the first of problem, vacant buildings came down Thursday. Natalie Martinez reports.
A building on South Rhodes Avenue that suffered from ripped up walls and uneven floors inside, and evidence of people having lived in squalor underneath, was one of 12 torn down by the City of Chicago Thursday in an attempt to curb gang activity and other crime.
"It looks like this is boarded up, but you go right in the back and you can see it's not boarded up," said Block President Annette Jones-Williams. "They can get into this building every kind of way they want to."
Access to those buildings creates a prime breeding ground for crime, say neighborhood leaders.
"So naturally what happens is it becomes a haven, a haven for the gangs, for the drugs, for the homeless, for the prostitution," said Darlene Tribue, neighborhood leader. "And at a certain point, it overwhelms the neighborhood."
Eliminating those havens is the goal of an initiative announced earlier this week by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Supt. Garry McCarthy as part of their anti-gang strategy.
"Drugs and gangs are an eyesore to the community, and the only ones that are being affected by it are the elderly and the children," said resident Lyndon Jackson.
Buildings at, at 7101 S. Rhodes Avenue and 6747 S. Laflin Street, are among the first of the 200 properties to be taken care of.
"These vacant buildings are where gang bangers are hanging out, and drug dealers are hanging out, and they’re operating in those buildings,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Monday.