The squeal of tires and roar of engines continue to be a nighttime nuisance for thousands of neighbors living along the Pulaski corridor, from Archer Heights on the north to Scottsdale on the south. --Images captured from cellphone videos
‘You knew this would happen’
Neighbors angry, but not surprised by shooting
By Tim Hadac
What a number of Southwest Siders living along the Pulaski corridor have been warning about appears to have occurred.
A 22-year-old man was shot in the abdomen and buttocks as he stood with a group of people in a parking lot at 7050 S. Pulaski at 1:50 a.m. Sunday, May 15.
The victim was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center, where he was listed in critical condition. Police would only say said the shooter was a man who drove his vehicle into the parking lot at a high rate of speed and crashed into the victim’s vehicle. During an argument, there was an exchange of gunfire between the victim and the driver of the speeding vehicle. No one is in custody.
The parking lot in question (built more than 40 years ago as a Kmart/Dominick’s/Walgreeens lot), is a popular gathering place for young men who enjoy racing and performing stunts (like donuts, drifts, burnouts and powerslides).
It is especially popular on Friday and Saturday nights; but weeknights see the drivers and their fans as well, if the weather cooperates.
The noise from the roaring engines and squealing tires is a nuisance to many—heard blocks and sometimes miles away. People have complained of disrupted sleep of everyone from newborns to the elderly. Others, including people with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, have said the noise triggers anxiety attacks.
Still others have warned that the drivers will one day harm someone or even get someone killed—either through reckless driving or through fights between groups of young people.
Neighbors’ anger over last Sunday’s shooting boiled over in local social media groups.
“You knew this would happen,” said West Elsdon resident Angie Morales. “Week after week after week, this goes on and nothing is done.”
Police were initially unclear on whether the shooting was in any way connected with the late-night antics of young drivers; but nonetheless, the crime triggered a wave of anger.
“It sounded like a war zone,” said one woman who asked that her name not be disclosed. “It was crazy. God help us all. You can’t even drive to the grocery store because [the reckless drivers] feel they’re above the law… they drive crazy, cut you off, take red light and tail your ass until you move. It’s crazy. Please be careful out there.”
For the most part, the drivers in question use the Pulaski corridor, roughly from the Stevenson Expressway south to 76th Street. Their favorite gathering spot appears to be the huge parking lots at Ford City, but other hangouts are lots at 71st Street and around 43rd Street.
Neighbors working through the Scottsdale Neighborhood Watch, West Lawn Neighborhood Watch and Archer Heights Civic Association have complained to police, elected officials and others—apparently to no avail.
Officially, police have made “drag racing/reckless driving” the top priority in their 2022 Strategic Plan—a move driven by citizens who participated in a two-part “community conversation” with CPD last fall.
But individual police officers—mostly in private but sometimes publicly at CAPS meetings—say there’s not much they can do about the problem for several reasons: police staffing levels are far too low, they are currently prohibited from chasing reckless drivers, and there is not much they can do to force owners of large parking lots to block drivers from entering late at night.
Several people on different social media platforms this week suggested that police impound the cars of reckless drivers, with one person even suggesting that local towing companies be used remove impounded cars.
“This is an ongoing problem that should have been dealt with from the start, but was allowed to continue to go on, even after many complaints,” said one man who asked that only his first name, Greg, be used. “Now these kids think they are entitled to continue this behavior and cause many problems for the community, so this doesn’t surprise me at all that these problems are accelerating out of control.”
Cecy Jaimes agreed that private towing companies should be part of the solution.
West Elsdon resident Francisco Aguirre added one prominent person to the list of people neighbors blame.
“If these cars were disrupting the sleep of Mayor Lightfoot—or Amy Eshleman or their daughter–how long do you think it would take the mayor to solve the problem?” he asked. “A month? A week? A day? I think we know the answer. What does she care about this part of the city?”
Mayoral race comes to Archer
Neighbors cheer as Lopez slams Lightfoot on crime By Tim Hadac Southwest Side civic and business leaders last Saturday got an early glimpse of the 2023 mayoral race, as 15th Ward Ald. Raymond Lopez made a campaign stop on Archer Avenue. Lopez was the guest of honor at a “meet and greet” held at the…
Early voting now open
Several Southwest Side sites available By Tim Hadac Although the next primary election is set for Tuesday, June 28, early voting has started. Voters may cast ballots at the Chicago Board of Elections’ “supersite” at 191 N. Clark. It is open now until election day, and its hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 6…
Bar Assoc. offers guidance on judge races
From staff reports For voters seeking guidance relating to the handful of judicial races on the ballot this month, the Chicago Bar Association now offers its “Judge Smart Pocket Guide” in English, Spanish and Polish. All versions are available at chicagobar.org/chicagobar/votejudges. The CBA provides judicial evaluations for candidates seeking to become a judge in Cook County,…
They have her back
Two days before Christmas 2021, Chicago Police Officer Jose “Joey” Huerta, a Garfield Ridge resident, died of COVID-19 complications. Months later, his daughter, Ariel, graduated from Kinzie School. In a show of solidarity, 23rd Ward Ald. Silvana Tabares (left), herself a Garfield Ridge resident, and several dozen police officers showed up at the school to…
Niego Real Estate salutes America again
Popular flag program underway By Tim Hadac Clearing and Garfield Ridge residents who want to decorate their blocks in red, white and blue this Independence Day are encouraged to contact Niego Real Estate and reserve a supply of U.S. flags at no charge. The popular program to promote patriotism and community pride is now in…
Villanueva hails new ‘mental health days’ law
From staff reports State Senator Celina Villanueva (D-11th) recently declared victory as Gov. JB Pritzker signed into law a bill that allows teachers to take mental health days. “Our teachers’ service to our students is ongoing, both inside and outside the classroom,” Villanueva said. “Now that our society has recognized the importance of mental health…
No ammo for revoked cardholders, Dart says
Wants legal loophole closed From staff reports Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart recently urged lawmakers to close a loophole he said allows thousands of individuals with revoked gun permits to still buy ammunition. “A gun is only dangerous if it is loaded,” Dart said. “Right now, there are thousands of individuals in Cook County…
Offer rebates on new security devices
From staff reports City officials and others this week launched the Home and Business Protection Program, designed to protect people and property from crime. Through the program, anyone who lives in the city of Chicago, operates a business in the city, or owns or leases a vehicle registered to a primary address within the city…
Historic home now belongs to the ages
By Kathy Headley Your correspondent in Chicago Lawn and Marquette Manor 6610 S. Francisco • (773) 776-7778 A building starts out as a collection of wood or bricks. As time goes on, some might be cherished for their aesthetic value, some for their historic value, some for the memories held inside. We have great vintage…
2 incumbents seek Dem nomination in newly drawn 6th District
By Steve Metsch It doesn’t happen often, but voters in the newly drawn 6th Congressional District have an unusual choice in the Democratic primary. Because of redistricting, two sitting members of Congress are going toe-to-toe for the nomination in the June 28 primary. The district covers the Midway Airport area, Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood and the…
CAPITOL RECAP: Pritzker to call special session after Roe v. Wade overturned
By CAPITOL NEWS ILLINOIS SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker will call a special session of the General Assembly in the coming weeks to focus on legislation to strengthen women’s access to abortion and other reproductive health services in Illinois. Pritzker made that announcement Friday, just hours after the U.S. Supreme Court released an opinion overturning…
6 Republicans vie to unseat Pritzker
By PETER HANCOCK & JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Republican voters in Illinois will choose from six candidates to challenge incumbent Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker in the upcoming June 28 primary. The field includes a conservative farmer and state lawmakers who is the recent polling frontrunner, the mayor of Illinois’ second largest…
Candidate interview: Alexi Giannoulias looking to reclaim statewide office
By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] Illinois voters might know Alexi Giannoulias as the state’s treasurer from 2007 to 2011, or they might know him as the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate who lost to Republican Mark Kirk in 2010. He’s now looking to get back into public life as he runs for secretary…
Pritzker to call special session on reproductive rights
By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker will call a special session of the General Assembly in the coming weeks to focus on legislation to strengthen women’s access to abortion and other reproductive health services in Illinois. Pritzker made that announcement Friday, just hours after the U.S. Supreme Court released…
Candidate interview: Anna Valencia running for secretary of state
By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] This story is part of Capitol News Illinois’ coverage of the race for secretary of state ahead of the Tuesday, June 28 primary. We’re reaching out to the candidates this week to discuss their policy positions and plans for the office should they be elected. Chicago City Clerk…
Republicans see opening in secretary of state race
By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – For the first time in nearly a quarter century, there is an open race for the office of Illinois secretary of state as incumbent Democrat Jesse White prepares to retire, and Republicans hope that will give them an opportunity to pick up a statewide elected office.…
Candidate interview: Secretary of state hopeful David Moore
By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] This story is part of Capitol News Illinois’ coverage of the race for secretary of state ahead of the Tuesday, June 28 primary. We’re reaching out to all of the candidates this week to discuss their policy positions and plans for the office should they be elected. Chicago…
Tom Cullerton sentenced to 1 year in prison for embezzlement
By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – A federal judge in Chicago handed down a one-year prison sentence Tuesday for a former state senator who once chaired the Senate Labor Committee. Tom Cullerton, a Villa Park Democrat, pleaded guilty earlier this year to one count of embezzlement for receiving salary and benefits from…
CAPITOL RECAP: State Supreme Court again declines to rule on FOID Act
By CAPITOL NEWS ILLINOIS SPRINGFIELD – In a 4-3 decision with a blistering dissent from the Republican minority, the Illinois Supreme Court declined to rule on a question of whether Illinois Firearm Owners Identification Act is unconstitutional. It was the second time the case of the People v. Vivian Brown came before the court and…
State audit finds billions in unemployment fraud
By BETH HUNDSDORFER Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – A state audit released Thursday found nearly $2 billion in federal money intended to help unemployed Illinoisans during the pandemic was lost to fraudulent claims in Illinois. The Illinois Department of Employment Security blamed “insufficient and flawed federal guidance” and a lack of controls on a…