By: Max Hanzlik, Micah Payne, Diana Vargas, Frank Zawrazky (Loyola)
Like much of Chicago, the Rogers Park neighborhood has seen a consistent rise in some types of crime, with many unsolved cases and no real solutions, while murders have nearly halved from this time last year (five in 2021 versus 9 in 2020).
CPD District Reports show that total crime in Rogers Park is up five percent this year, with a 16% increase in robberies, and a 24% increase in thefts. Despite murders being down 44%, many cases go unsolved. This includes the Rogers Park shooting near Loyola University Chicago’s campus in 2018, when a man dressed in all black shot two random residents in the head, killing them.
According to an article from CBS Local, the gun was also used weeks after the murders in a shooting in West Lawndale. The weapon has also been linked to a shooting in March near the Jackson and Oakley Boulevards, only a few blocks from the United Center.
This case is not in isolation.
We asked Leslie Perkins, a representative from 49th Ward Alderwoman Maria Hadden’s office about the community response to cold cases.
She said, “We have, and will continue, to push for increased funding for mental health resources, violence disruption, affordable housing, equitable funding for our schools, and more. We were able to secure funding for a pilot program in the 2021 budget which started late this fall.”
Despite the increase in funding for public safety, there is still a $155,000 reward for information by the Chicago Police Department for this unsolved double homicide in 2018.
There was also a murder in early August, 2021 reported by CWB Chicago. A man who was identified as 25-year-old Sean Ravi Charles Sullivan-Freeman was found lying in the middle of the street on the 1300 block of West Farwell around 9:00 p.m.
He had multiple gunshot wounds to the face and chest. He was taken to St. Francis Hospital in Evanston where he was pronounced dead.
Police are still looking for a man who was described as a heavy set white male who is over 6-feet tall. There were no arrests made and the case is still unsolved.
There is currently a memorial for Sullivan under the Red Line track on Farwell. Friends and family still leave flowers as they continue to mourn.
Even with many precautions in place, Larry Suffredin, Cook County commissioner for Rogers Park, thinks more police will not solve this issue of rising violence in the neighborhood.
“The concept of violence reduction in my mind is not a police issue,” Suffredin said at a town hall, first reported by Block Club Chicago.
Rogers park residents can also have an impact on the area’s security.
Perkins said, “(Residents) can help put pressure on other politicians for funding to be distributed this way.”
Many residents do express some serious concern when it comes to the safety of their environment and the socio-economic factors behind crime.
Loyola University student and Rogers Park resident Alexis Lee said, “One concern I have would be the current gentrification causing an increase in poverty which would increase crime. Rogers Park has had a history of lower class residents and gangs/crime groups, and if you leave the Loyola area you can still see remnants of that. With new, wealthier people coming into the Rogers Park area, old residents might not be able to afford the rising prices of food and housing, which leads to more people committing crime.”
On the other hand, some Rogers Park residents seem to be undeterred or unaware of the concerning crime rate in the area.
Loyola University student and Rogers Park resident Aiden Stammler said, “Rogers Park seems to be kind of a safe spot, but there are some reports of crime here and there. For me, it doesn’t feel that unsafe to walk around outside.”
With crime on the rise it is important to stay cautious and understand what we can do as a community to keep each other safe and provide equitable resources to protect each other.