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Current and former gang members from Chicago’s West Side met Thursday morning (Sep. 2) at the Columbus Park Refectory to discuss complaints regarding police, city officials, and violence. Many gang members attributed poverty, drugs, and high levels of unemployment to the high levels of crime that have been plaguing Chicago for quite some time.

Not only did gang members place blame on poverty, drugs and a lack of jobs, they also blamed a lack of respect by Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis for wasting their time in a meeting he arranged last Saturday (Aug. 28) at Garfield Park Conservatory.

[pagebreak]In the meeting, which gang members were tricked into thinking was a routine parole hearing, Weis delivered this message: that if the violence did not stop, the police would do whatever it took to bring gangs down. This includes use of the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO Act), which provides harsher penalties for acts performed by a member of a crime organization.

Gang members have responded to Weis’ threat of using the Rico Act against them, calling it ‘unconstitutional, guilty before innocent, premeditated arrest and indictment by Chicago Police hearsay and propaganda tactics.’