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CHICAGO (CBS) — Hyde Park had been a longtime safe Halloween hangout spot for teens from all over the city.
In recent years, 53rd Street normally sees the most action–some good and bad.
That “bad” is what LaKeshia Hamilton, the mother of two teens, is working to prevent. Especially this year — with no organized event planned on 53rd Street and kids anxious to get out with friends.
“Lets be present,” Hamilton told CBS 2’s Steven Graves. “Community members may be present, and I hope the stores.”
Over the past two years, weather and COVID-19 have made for mild Halloweens in the neighborhood. Hyde Park did not see the crowds of teens vandalizing cars in neighborhoods and causing other havoc.
With another Halloween falling on a weekend this year, the time to plan is now, Hamilton said.
She has an outline of wants and needs: Strategically placing city police in storefronts and adults just walking pets or engaging from Lake Park to Woodlawn. University of Chicago police would be assigned to positively engage with teens.
The youth mentor hears from kids who want to celebrate safely, but the current climate of teens injured or killed in shootings is concerning.
“They are personally losing relatives, losing classmates, and it’s kind of a feeling like, ‘I don’t know if I’m next,’ ” said Hamilton. “I am concerned about any kid getting involved in any kind of violent situation.”
For the second year in a row, Bennie Currie, a 30-year Hyde Park resident, is leading a safe Halloween initiative called “block activation.” This year will be the first true test.
Neighbors will turn on lights for the night and set up activities. The goal is to interactive – rather than reactive – with a positive outcome.
“I think you can have some say in that by what you do in the community and how you greet people,” Currie said. “And how you meet folks and interact with your neighbors.”
That “block activation” consists of about 20 blocks, and organizers are still looking for more to get involved. Police in the past have added extra patrols in the area around Halloween. CBS 2’s has asked CPD if they plan similar patrols this year. We have not heard back.
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