Chicago Alderman who demanded less officers patrolling now demanding more security to stop robberies of street vendors


CHICAGO, IL – In an op-ed, Law Enforcement Today previously reported on the Chicago Alderman who publicly stated at a City Council meeting that he wanted fewer Chicago police officers patrolling his ward.

Now, according to CWBChicago, that same alderman is “demanding” that the Chicago Police Department (CPD) stop street vendor robberies that are on the rise in his ward.

On Friday, December 16th, Chicago Alderman Bryon Sigcho Lopez (25th ward) attended a press conference where organizers hoped to raise awareness about a pattern of armed robberies of street vendors.

In an apparent shift from his announced position of wanting fewer officers patrolling in his ward, at that press conference, he said:

“We are demanding of the City of Chicago the same public safety measures that we have in every other neighborhood.”

Several vendors and community members were in attendance at the press conference, but it remains unclear how many of them know that Sigcho-Lopez volunteered to give up officers in his ward, thereby making it easier for these robberies to occur.

Some of the vendors described what they have recently dealt with. Maria Isabel Bonilla Mendez said that she has been robbed twice in the last two months. She said:

“They’re also harming us in a psychological way. We can’t work like this because there’s a lot of insecurity. They come and they rob us at gun point.”

All vendors in the area reportedly signed off on a letter which they brought to city hall on Friday, December 16th, as they demanded better working conditions and police protection. Mercedes Alvarez, a street vendor said:

“Somebody to come just to rob us because they want the money? No, it’s not fair. We need somebody to help us to have more security in the morning and always here.”

During his term, which began in 2019, data shows that shootings are up 191 percent, which are their highest level since close to 2010, as far back as the city’s online database goes.

Shortly after the food vendor press conference, a gunman shot four teenagers at dismissal time outside Benito Juarez High School, which is in Sigcho-Lopez’s ward. Two boys were fatally shot during the incident and two others were wounded.

The two teens who were shot and survived are doing well and are expected to recover. The two teenagers fatally shot have been identified as 14-year-old Nathan Billegas and 15-year-old Brandon Perez.

CPD Superintendent David Brown said that investigators believe the shooting was a potential gang conflict. Sources said that the victims did not all attend the same high school and that only two of the four attend Benito Juarez.

In response to the shooting, Mayor Lorie Lightfoot (D) tweeted that there is a “pressing need for illegal guns to be taken off our streets.” However, investigators have not stated whether or not the guns used were illegal.

Although Sigcho-Lopez and other aldermen do not have influence over how the CPD deploys its officers, publicly announcing that you wish your ward had less officers patrolling, could certainly lead others to think that it is a reason for the rise in violent crime.

According to the Chicago Office of Inspector General, two police districts that serve the bulk of Sigcho-Lopez’s constituents have lost a significant number of officers since he became an alderman.

In the beginning of December, CPD announced that several street vendors were targeted in armed robberies near Chinatown, Gage Park and Brighton Park.

The CPD Bureau of Detectives sent out a business alert to residents in the 8th and 9th districts about a string of armed robberies that targeted street vendors.

For those incidents, police said in each instance a group of three to six unknown Black men approached vendors and demanded personal property. The suspects were described as being 15-25-years-old, around 5’10” to 6’1″ in height, 140-160 pounds and wearing all black clothes and face masks.

CPD detectives are asking anyone with any information that could lead to an arrest or breakthrough in the investigation to reach out to Area One detectives at 312-747-8384.

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