CHIRAQ... Gale school cancels recess because of gang shooting near the school -- ten years after I ran an all-day CTU in-service on how to purge the gangs from Gale School!... Why did the 49th (and adjacent) wards fail to eliminate drug dealing 'Disciples' from the 'Juneway Jungle'?

In June 2015, Chicago's Gale elementary school (above) terminated recess after gang shootings disrupted the school day. But Gale and its local community have faced murders from the same faction of Chicago's Disciples street gang for more than a generation, so the question really is why Chicago's elected and economic leaders can't suppress a plague that everyone knows about.Ten years ago, as Director of Security and Safety for the Chicago Teachers Union, I conducted a day-long in-service for the staff at Gale Elementary School. The in-service was on how to prevent the gangs from continuing to take over the area. As I was driving up to the school prior to 8:00 a.m., I witnessed members of the Gangster Disciples street gang selling drugs at the corner of Bosworth and Howard streets. And now, it's ten years later, and the same gang is still in power in that area.

And this leads to a much more serious and larger question. For three generations now, two major gang "nations" have run the drug rackets in Chicago. They manage their operations from inside Illinois prisons, and the results on the streets are unchanged since the Black P. Stones and Latin Kings made their first alliances (as the five-pointed state "People") in the 1970s and the Gangster Disciples and other Disciples gangs declared that they were the (six-pointed star) "Folks."

When I was "Gang Security Coordinator" at Bowen High School, I used to do "perimeter duty" with several honest Chicago police officers, before and after school every day. And as we watched the gang problems unfold, we often discussed why all of the official corruption involving the protection of street gangs by the highest officials ended at the Rio Grande River. Mexican Army and police officials, we knew then, could make a name for themselves by suppressing one gang faction, while looking the other way at the crimes of the other(s). And the work was lucrative. When I first took over the work of "Gang Security Coordinator" at Bowen I was offered many deals to do that same. All we had to do was suppress the Disciples -- thereby increasing our suspension and arrest numbers -- while ignoring many of the issues that came as a result of the Stones and Kings.

We refused, and told the gangsters that we were a public school, not the "turf" on one faction or another. But mostly they just laughed, because they knew, from experience, that official support for the gangs ranged from inside Cook County jail and the Illinois prisons all the ways to the various wards in about half the city.

And so in 2015, nothing has really changed. But as usual, public officials are as pure as Caesar's wife, and all the corruption that comes from the enormous profits from the illicit drug business, at least in Chicago, does not include any Chicago aldermen, their staffs, police officials, or major players at City Hall.

And so, the news from 2015 might as well be the news from 2003 (when I taught teachers about the gangs as part of my job working for the Chicago Teachers Union) or 1995 (when I tried to maintain anti-gang work at Bowen High School 20 miles from Gale Elementary School).

On June 4, 2015, DNA Info Chicago, a news service that has been improving when it isn't simply promoting favorites restaurants and craft beverages, reported on gang violence in the small area north of Howard St. Chicago and the impact of that violence on Gale Elementary School:

'Traumatizing' Shooting, By Linze Rice, DNA Info Chicago, June 4, 2015 5:46am

Recess is canceled for the remainder of the year at Gale Elementary School in Rogers Park in an effort to protect students after a shooting Monday morning left staff, parents and students all "traumatized."

ROGERS PARK The principal of Gale Elementary School in Rogers Park said she had "no choice" but to cancel recess for the rest of the school year after a man was shot just steps away from the school's community garden on Monday,leaving children and parents shaken.

Washington said during a local school council meeting Wednesday afternoon that at 1:05 p.m. Monday, she and others heard shots ring out as third graders were at recess near the school's soccer fields, which share a border with Ashland Avenue, where the shooting took place.

"We know [shooters are] brazen enough to do it at 1 p.m. in the afternoon, and as we already know they're brazen enough to do it at 9 a.m. like they did last year on Marshfield so we can't take that chance," Washington said.

In April 2014, a 16-year-old boy was shot and killed on the same corner of Ashland and Joanquil avenues during a drive-by shooting.

Washington said although the students were not in close proximity to the corner where a 22-year-old man was shot twice in his back Monday, they were still outside as she called 911 and as police arrived.

"It was like, seconds, and the police were on the corner surrounding everything," she said. The school then went into lockdown mode.

Linze Rice discusses why LSC members felt the move was necessary: Washington said she didn't believe any of the kids at recess witnessed the shooting, but several parents exiting the building at that moment ran back inside "traumatized." Minutes after the shooting, she said a class of students returning from a field trip also arrived. Staff and parents had "all hands on deck" as they tried to protect students by creating a barricade between them and the scene.

Now, she said, until school lets out June 19, recess is out of the question for Gale, making her students "not happy at all" with her a feeling she says she can sympathize with.

"They already can't really play in the evening because so much [violence] is going on, it's just sad," Washington said.

Not long after police arrived, Washington said she called the principals of several neighboring schools, including Kilmer Elementary School at 6700 N. Greenview Ave. and Sullivan High School at 6631 N. Bosworth Ave. to let them know what had happened.

"We have to take care of each other," she said.

At a Tuesday night community safety meeting, Ald. Harry Osterman (48th) said in recent years violence has permeated the boundaries of Uptown, Edgewater and Rogers Park. "Shots fired on Howard Street ripple through Edgewater and trigger shootings on Wilson Avenue," he said.

Washington also said that the school has at least two security cameras that do not work properly, an issue that especially concerned her the week prior to the shooting: "I said in an email last week, 'Let's get these repaired before something happens.'"

Neighborhood activist Jim Ginderske said with over 300 shootings citywide in the month of May alone, it would be "unacceptable" for CPS to cut funding for the school's summer programs a reality the school is currently facing.

Kyle Hillman, an LSC community representative, said the need to cut recess is a "sad" and "disgusting" byproduct of decreased funding for vital programs.

"This is what we get when we continue to cut city funding for services for communities like north of Howard," Hillman said. "We end up with a situation where schoolchildren can no longer play in their backyard, play in the playground under the fear of being shot from gang activity ... something's gotta change."

Other LSC members agreed, saying public support would be crucial in ensuring neighborhood kids remained safe while school was not in session.

For now, Washington said staff at Gale would continue to press on and assist students with crisis management counseling something she said could be beneficial to anyone still nervous about the shooting.

"We're all on edge right now," Washington said. "Not just the kids, the adults too."

Just as 20 years ago, when I was "Gang Security Coordinator" and an English teacher at Bowen High School, I witnessed a student die, shot outside the school during a gang battle on the Southeast Side -- 20 miles from Gale School! That year, my memory says, Bowen lost seven students (or recent former students) to gang murder. The same gangs in 2015 still rule many of Chicago's streets -- the "People" (five pointed stars) and the "Folks" (six pointed stars).

Of course, the Gale school area shootings were just part of a larger situation stretching across some parts of Chicago, as DNA Info also reported at the end of May:

More Than 300 People Shot, 37 Fatally, During May in Chicago, By Tanveer Ali, DNA Info, Chicago, June 1, 2015 11:08am, Updated on June 2, 2015 8:20am

CHICAGO More than 300 people were shot and 37 people were killed in shootings throughout the city during May.

That's an increase in shootings and gun deaths compared to May 2014, when 237 people were wounded and 36 were slain in shootings.

This May, 46 people in total were slain in Chicago, with 37 dying from gunshot wounds.

Of the 309 people injured in shootings in Chicago last month, 35 were shot in West Englewood, the most of any of Chicago's 77 community areas, based on a DNAinfo analysis.

Five of those wounded, including a 2-year-old girl, were shot in a single incident in the 6200 block of South Honore Street. In a separate West Englewood shooting, three kids a 4-year-old girl, 17-year-old boy and 15-year-old girl, were shot. After being shot in her head, 4-year-old Jacele Johnson has been transferred to a Minnesota facility to help her recover from her injuries.

West Englewood also led the city in total shootings last month. The neighborhood was the site of 24 of the city's 252 reported shootings compiled by DNAinfo.

But only one of the people shot in West Englewood died from his wounds. The 37 fatal shootings last month took place throughout the city.

Some other findings from shootings reported in May:

Of the reported shootings, 44 resulted in multiple victims.

The most violent period of the month was Memorial Day weekend, when 56 people were shot between Thursday afternoon (May 22) and early Tuesday morning (May 26). The bloodiest day of the month occurred the Saturday before, when 20 people were shot on May 16.

The North Side had far fewer shootings than the South or West sides, and the shootings in that part of Chicago were mostly concentrated in two neighborhoods. In Albany Park six people were shot, one fatally. Six people were shot, though none fatally, in Rogers Park. The violence in Albany Park has led neighborhood residents to pack community police meetings.

In other notable shootings in May:

Two men Justin Blanks of Hebron and Joseph Luttien, both of Indiana were killed in a North Lawndale shooting that also wounded a woman.

Shaquon Thomas, also known as Young Pappy, was shot dead in Uptown. The North Side rapper was the target of two shootings in 2014 that killed bystanders.

In Lakeview's first shooting since December, Kevin O'Malley of suburban Palos Park was killed in an early morning robbery.


June 13, 2015 at 1:31 AM

By: Jim Vail

CPS comment

My question after reading the DNA story on no more recess at Gale is what is CPS's comment. They implemented the policy to return recess to all the students. They recognized how important recess is to a student's overall educational experience. But schools stopped having recess based on this very reason - shootings all around. So is it true not all CPS students have access to a quality education based on the environment around them? CPS?

June 13, 2015 at 5:45 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

Sam's recess testimony at the Thorp LSC

Sam Schmidt graduated yesterday from O.A. Thorp. Next year he will be a freshman at Whitney Young. During his years at Thorp, he only took on so-called "standardized" test -- seventh grade. We had to decide whether to sue the Board or allow Sam to take the seventh grade tests, which were one-third of the criteria for the selective enrollment schools. (Seventh grade grades, the "standardized" test, and the "entrance exam" are the three parts of the formula which yields the magic number for kids who want to apply for the selective enrollment high schools. Rather than spend thousands of dollars and years in court, we decided that was the one testing program -- of all those in elementary school -- Sam would not Opt Out of.

Sam also spoke out about recess during the years he was at Thorp. He testified to the Local School Council, during the same time his mother and other Moms protested against the elimination of recess by CPS.

Yesterday, June 12, 2015, as Sam graduated from Thorp. Many more children are now Opting Out. It was nice to watch Opt Out grow. Ninety six children graduated with Sam yesterday. As I watched the two-hour ceremony, it was with pride that Chicago's real public schools have such diversity. And I couldn't stop thinking about how completely the charter schools are pushing segregation. At the May 27 Board of Eduction meeting, we witnessed the all-black (and all-male) Urban Prep segregationists praise themselves. They were followed by the UNO segregationists, praising themselves. It's a sick sub-system, more sick because the ruling class promotes those segregated "academies" here in Chicago (which pioneered a lot of American's charter plague), just as the ruling class of the White segregationist South promoted the white "academies" back after Brown v. Board of Education.

June 13, 2015 at 11:10 AM

By: Kati Gilson


Recess at our school was often "sitting in the auditorium" especially if the class was considered troublesome. Often the adults supervising recess made the call whether or not to go outside because it was "too cold" for them. I thought they were supposed to be there for the kids not their personal convenience. For years the preschoolers were denied outside access for recess. A must for all early childhood children.

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