“Sometimes there are so many they look like they’re having a union meeting"- Southwest Siders rally against prostitution
The Chicago Police Department (CPD) has organized a “Take Back the Streets” rally at 7 p.m. today on 49th and Cicero, a corner in Archer Heights that has neighbors on a crusade to rid it, and the entire block, of prostitutes and drug dealers.
A spokesman for CPD’s 8th District said that Commander Ronald Pontecore and some of the city’s alderman will be on hand to discuss the anti-prostitution ordinance approved by the Chicago City Council last month.
Under the ordinance, police can disperse those “loitering for the purpose of prostitution.” Anyone returning within eight hours faces arrest, fines and possible jail time. The law is based on the city’s nearly 20-year-old anti-gang loitering ordinance.
For Lori Vrablic, whose backyard faces the corner, the rally is another sign of progress in her (occasionally dangerous) fight to clean up the local streets, which started when she married and moved into the house three years ago.
“Sometimes there are so many they look like they’re having a union meeting,” Vrablic told Chicago City Wire. “I’ve tried yelling through a megaphone, confronting them face-to-face. Sometimes they chase me. Sometimes they might leave for a while but they always come back.”
Vrablic said she has gotten to know the police so well that she usually now sends them texts, instead of calling 911, to ask them to come to clear the block.
She organized her neighbors into the South Keating Awareness Group, so they can update one another on any developments in the neighborhood.
“Not too long ago one of my neighbors was headed home but had to turn around when she saw a drug deal taking place right by her garage,” she said. “She had to tell her daughter that they couldn’t go home yet.”
The CPD spokesman attributed the busy prostitution and drug trade to Cicero being a busy highway – it connects Midway Airport with downtown. And with dealers and pimps moving on from Leclair Courts, a public housing project near 44th Street, that was demolished in 2011.