This morning the Peace and Education Coalition of Back of the Yards announced plans for a safe Halloween in the neighborhood, one year after the murder of mother Leticia Barrera while trick-or-treating with her children.
The Chicago Police Department's 9th District will have extra officers on duty that day, and police are already warning gang members who are stopped or picked up now that a quiet Halloween this year will be very much in their best interests. "Stay home, have a pizza and watch Rambo if that's what you have to do," said Officer Tony Mejia.
The Coalition will pilot safe Halloween trick-or-treating hours this year, encouraging families and businesses to limit their trick-or-treating to the hours between 3 and 6 p.m. Flyers with this information will be distributed to local schools, churches and businesses.
The 12th Ward will host a Halloween party for families at 35th and Western from 6 to 9 p.m. There will be plenty of candy and a costume contest.
"In 1997, when we [the Coalition] started, nobody trick-or-treated," noted Sandy Traback, a Coalition co-founder and former principal of Chavez Elementary. "When people started going door-to-door it was a sign the community felt safer."
This year, noted Mike Anderer-McClelland, principal of San Miguel School, parents and students have expressed concerns about their safety if they choose to go trick-or-treating. The area around San Miguel and Hedges Elementary is very close to where Barrera was shot. At the end of the meeting two ideas had been proposed for that area: parent patrols and a Halloween party in the St. Michael's gym, but it was not clear whether either or both of these activities would be pursued.
This meeting fired me up to do the haunted basement the kids have been bugging me to do for years. And yes, I too have heard concerns about going trick-or-treating this year. I'm glad Coalition members are stepping up to address the issue.
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