By Hal Dardick
5:29 PM EDT, March 12, 2013
In the wake of the murder of 6-month-old Jonylah Watkins, the ward’s alderman announced Tuesday that he has contacted gang members to ask them not to harbor the killers of innocent victims.
Ald. Willie Cochran, 20th, a retired Chicago police sergeant, said it’s time the message of not protecting killers of innocent victims was extended beyond law-abiding citizens. It came hours after the death of Jonylah, who was shot Monday along with her father while parked Monday on the 6500 block of South Maryland Avenue in the Woodlawn neighborhood.
“We’ve talked with some of the gang leaders, and we’ve talked with them about how important it is to not harbor offenders that they know are offenders who have committed crimes associated with innocent victims,” Cochran said. “These are acts that are carried about by people on the street, and on the street is where it has to be dealt with.”
Cochran said he received commitments from gang leaders that they would not harbor anyone who killed innocent victims and they would send a message such actions were not acceptable. He declined to identify how many leaders or which ones he talked to.
In making the announcement, Cochran stood alongside Wallace “Gator” Bradley — a former gang member who has tried to remake himself as an “urban translator” for politicians — and five fellow members of the council’s Black Caucus.
Cochran was careful to say he was not criticizing Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.
“This happened despite a police car’s presence in that community on that block in that surrounding area for the last year.”
“This heinous crime is unacceptable,” the alderman added. “It is unacceptable at every level of our society. When things like this take place, I want it to be know that there will no place in our city, in our communities, for the offenders to hide.”
Among those backing Cochran were Ald. Leslie Hairston, 5th, who also represents part of Woodlawn, and Ald. Howard Brookins, 21st, chairman of the City Council Black Caucus.
“We have been through this too many times, be it (15-year-old band majorette) Hadiya Pendleton or be it the 6 month old today,” Hairston said. “It makes absolutely no sense. And so it’s not just about getting the parents. It’s not just about getting the preachers. It’s not just about getting the teachers. But it’s getting everybody including the street organizations.”
Brookins noted that in many cases the people that kill people on the street come from the same communities.
“These people who are hanging out, these people who come into our communities, are not being dropped down from Mars and from Venus, but they are from our communities,” he said. “And we have to stand up and tell them that this abhorrent behavior is no longer acceptable in a civilized society.”
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