In Dajae's Memory: Let's Talk About Crime in Evanston

Dajae's tragic death means we should talk about in : it is worse than you might think.

The murder of young Dajae Coleman makes it hard to be whimsical and upbeat this morning. My heart goes out to the family - I lost my own son to a tragedy and I know how overwhelmed and in shock his survivors feel. I strongly urge them to join a bereaved parents' group. It helped me.

I was going to blog about something else today, but, when I rolled my cursor over the article about Dajae's memorial fund, a pop-up advertisement appeared. It told me: "Check out Local Crime Rates at Local.com."

So, I did. (I couldn't find rates on Local.com, but I did find local stats at www.areavibes.com

Evanston is more dangerous to live in than 80% of the other cities in Illinois. It is in the top one-third of the most dangerous cities to live in in the United States.

Yes, Evanston is one-half as dangerous as Chicago (about 5,300 s per 100,000 Chicago reisidents vs. about 3,000 s per 100,000 in Evanston). However,compared to other northshore cities, Evanston is 136% more dangerous to live in than Winnetka and 85% more dangerous than Kenilworth.

While neither of those other suburbs registered any murders,  Evanston has a murder rate per 100,000 of nearly 8. (Chicago's is a frightening 15.2 per 100,000.)

This is something we need to talk about. Let Dajae be our inspiration.

Eric Lieberman


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victoria smith September 26, 2012 at 12:38 PM
If your stats are correct, this will surely not help people in our town sell their homes, or anyone interested from a neighboring area not want to even concider moving here. We have always had a crime problem but, it sems that we are hearing more about tragic deaths of our young people. What do we have to do? Post more police officers in areas that are higher in crime? I don't know what the solution is. does anyone?
Eric Lieberman September 26, 2012 at 12:58 PM
Victoria - the solution to ANY problem always starts with realizing there is a problem. So, we need to wipe the fairy dust from eyes, and recognize what is really happening in Evanston. Art fairs and TIFF districts are fine, but we need to have an open and honest discussion of the crime problem. I'd like to see it start from our city administration (mayor, police chief, aldermen): let us see a clear and honest statement regarding crime in Evanston, the changes in types of crime and crime rates in the last five years, a description of what the city is doing to study and address the problem. The issue should be a topic in churches, synagogues, mosques. It should be an issue at public forums. We don't need to me concerned about opening our mouths about this and scaring people off. The statistics I cited are all available on line for anything who cares to do the research. I am thinking about how best to get Evanston to admit it has a problem. That is the first step. Eric Lieberman www.liebermanforillinois.com
el debarge September 26, 2012 at 06:44 PM
Can't have an "honest" discussion about crime in this town unless race is included. You'll not get that from city administration as that button is way too hot. The criminal element is firmly and deeply seated in this city and it is multi-generational. If one were to research serious crime in Evanston you would find many of the same names popping up again and again and they are the sons and daughters and grandchildren of some of our most infamous families. Each taking crime to new levels. Ask any cop with 20 years on the job. Save for Rainey, Alderman would NEVER approach this epidemic in honest terms.
Winnetka September 26, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Eric: So long as people enable and provide safe haven to thugs/gangsters...senseless violence such as Dajae Coleman's death will continue. The culture of silence-not speaking up when others are doing moral wrongs, implicitly condones the behavior. The self centered idea of minding one's own business is the crux of the problem. This is in play in every bit of gun violence that is plaguing Chicago and increasingly, Evanston. Where is the personal responsibilty? What about being "my brother's keeper?". Why haven't we heard from President Obama, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, et al about this horrific situation? They felt compelled to "weigh in" on the Trayvon Martin case, why not this one? Oh wait, Dajae was an honor student and community volunteer. Trayvon...not so much. How silly of me to think they would bestow attention on one of the "good guys" w/in their community. In my opinion, the President, Al, and company don't think there is enough of a headline here. This is what is inherently wrong. Too many of the talking heads promote and perpetuate the victim narrative as explanation for wrongdoings w/in their ranks. They should be lifting up and holding on a pedestal those w/in their ranks who are doing good work minus excuses. By all accounts Dajae fit that description. How sad that his promising life was ended by a worthless thug, Perhaps it was Dajae's success that the killer coveted the most.
Winnetka September 26, 2012 at 07:03 PM
You are absolutely correct. This issue is the same all over America in urban areas.
Jim September 26, 2012 at 11:27 PM
Evanston is full of hypocrites who refuse to see and state reality. Until the community reaches a consensus view of crime and punishment , forget about solving the problem. And we don't need Eric's stats to confirm what any conscious person knows; crime in Evanston is pervasive and will wreck the quality of life here not to mention the economics of the city if not corralled, and soon.
june shellene September 26, 2012 at 11:32 PM
For several years, I worked as a choir director on Chicago's West Side, at an all black Catholic Church. The priest, who was white, once said to me....slavery ended yesterday. In the grand scheme of things, it wasn't too long ago that we slaughtered Native Americans, and brought slaves in chains from Africa. We cannot, as a nation, escape the seeds we have sown. Us white people spend lots and lots of money "processing" the issues handed down to us by our parents. Now, as we see the real divide...that is, between the haves and the have nots, become clear....these ghosts will surely come back to haunt us, as they have never been truly laid to rest.
Christine Wolf September 27, 2012 at 01:52 AM
Crime? It just keeps going. Here's a statement by the EPD issued today: On 9/26/12, at approximately 9:45am, Evanston Police responded to the area of Church/Hartrey on a call of a man with a gun. Police units located a complainant who alleged that he was threaten by an individual brandishing a ‘long gun’ who resided in the 2400 block of Church St. Units arrived at that residence and subsequently took a suspect into custody pending further investigation. It should be noted that at the time of this call, the ETHS girls [cross country] team was in the area in which some of the students witnessed this event. Interviews of some of the track team members were conducted. The investigation led to a search of the residence in question as well as an area along Church St. from Hartrey to McDaniel. No weapon was located. Futhermore, there appears to be an ongoing feud between the complainant and suspect. No charges were filed.
Serena Love Bonita September 28, 2012 at 09:19 AM
El, this is not a race issue. This is a socio-economic issue. You saying "Let's have an honest discussion about race", is basically saying "It's the black/brown people committing the crimes". You need to stop looking at the color of the people and look at the socio-economic status of these people. You also have to look at a map. Evanston is right on the other side of Rogers Park, and the bad side of Rogers Park. It seems like northern RP is a dumping ground for the super poor and crazy so of course there is a lot of crime. It is going to spill over into nice quiet Evanston. I also don't think that the author of this blog should be comparing Evanston to Winnetka. Winnetka is WAY richer and isn't bordered by a desperately poor neighborhood. It's not fair. How about the people of Evanston see how they can meet the needs of the children in Rogers Park and see how conditions improve. Throwing more cops at them doesn't make anything better.


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