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Latino State News

Mayor Emanuel Announces Initiative to Prevent Gang Activity In and Around Vacant Buildings

City to Identify, Secure, and Demolish Vacant Buildings To Stop Gangs From Using As Gathering Places For Illegal Activity

Mayor Emanuel today announced a new initiative between the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and the Department of Buildings that will help the city identify, secure, and in some cases demolish vacant buildings, to stop gangs from using these buildings as gathering places and centers for illegal activity.

“With these actions we are sending a clear message to gang members:  you will find no shelter in the City of Chicago,” said Mayor Emanuel. “And whether it is a vacant building or a liquor store, we are committed to closing down cancers on our communities that serve as magnets for crime and gang activity.”

The CPD and the Department of Buildings will work together to demolish and secure vacant buildings that serve as hubs for violence and hives of gang activity. The Department of Buildings will evaluate and if applicable use necessary authority to expedite demolitions or securing of the buildings. This will create a system in which buildings are prioritized for emergency demo based not only on their structural stability but also their status as a gang haven.

Department of Buildings will dedicate $4 million to demolish or board and secure vacant buildings that are on CPD watch lists because they are sites where gang members and criminals are repeatedly found. 200 vacant buildings have been identified for possible demolition because of structural instability and location in high crime areas. The Department of Buildings will also board and secure properties that are gang havens but are structurally sound and can be eventually put to good use, determined through increased coordination between the Department of Buildings and the CPD.

The initial focus of this plan will be in the 7th, 11th, 3rd, 8th, and 10th districts but can be modified upon CPD’s priorities. The vacant building crackdown is complemented by the City’s recent crackdown on liquor stores and convenience stores that have been used by gangs as hangouts and centers for illegal activity.

In the last two months, since the crackdown on problem businesses began, BACP has identified 37 businesses that are now flagged on the watch list. Of those 37, 18 businesses have been cited and are in the process of having their licensing reviewed and have been referred for disciplinary action that could lead to revocation. One of the 18 stores, AM Dollar, had its license revoked last week and will be shuttered.  Two stores have paid sizeable fines, and one of those two stores took a voluntary 30-day closing. Four liquor establishments have already had their licenses revoked and their doors closed.