June 2011
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Peorians living in fear

This eye-witness account is from Paul Wilkinson, president of the Altamont Park Neighborhood Association:

Tonight, around 11 p.m., a group of at least 60-70 African American youth marched down one of the side streets (W. Thrush) to the 4 lane main drag (Sheridan). They were yelling threats to white residents. Things such as we need to kill alll the white people around here. They were physically intimidating anyone calling for help from the police. They were surrounding cars. Cars on the main drag had to slam on their brakes to either avoid the youth blocking not only all four lanes, but a large section of the side street as well. fights were breaking out among them. They were rushing residents who looked out their doors, going on to porches, yelling threats to people calling the police for help.

Cars were doing U turns on the streets just to avoid the mob, mostly male. One youth stated his grandfather was white and several assaulted him on the spot. One police officer answered the call. The youth split into two large groups, one heading north, the other south. They were also yelling racial threats to the police officer but he was outnumbered. Another police car did not show up until after the youth finally dispersed and the patty wagon (van) also eventually showed up.

Residents are very shaken, both black and white alike. This is the fifth large mob action in about a month with smaller groups of 10-12 are out threatening children and adults a few evenings a week or later into the night. The times vary, even occuring during the day. In talking to the police officer, they are short staffed. Residents were advised to simply keep inside and to lock their doors. In other words buckle down, it’s not even safe to sit on your porch or go into your yards.

“The fifth large mob action in about a month.” Wow. This is really outrageous. Why is this neighborhood having to put up with this? “Residents were advised to simply keep inside and to lock their doors”? Seriously? That’s the best we can do for our fellow citizens’ safety?

This needs to be addressed, and quickly.

131 comments to Peorians living in fear

  • What?

    Teachingrocks – What “others” have said that it happened like Paul did? And who told the neighborhoods it was their problem [alone] to deal with.

  • I saw it happen on Elmwood Ave by Loucks School about two months ago. It was after dark and I estimated the crowd to be between 15 and 20 teenagers. I called the police immediately. They were screaming and yelling, though I did not understand exactly what they were yelling. They were walking down the middle of the street from McClure and into yards. They gathered in a yard at the corner of MacQueen and Elmwood, then dispersed before the police showed up. They were extremely loud. They wanted people to know they were there.

    Ask someone at the police department how many times they have been called to the park by McClure Library for fighting. It would be interesting to know the answer. I’ve witnessed fights there with at least 30 youths on more than one occasion. To act as if this is not happening in our city is ridiculous. The truth is, it is happening all over the United States and no one knows what to do about it. God forbid our society would make parents responsible for their children. The days when kids became invisible when the street lights come on are long gone. These “children” apparently have no structure in their homes. Summer is young, this isn’t over.

  • What?

    Were they yelling “Kill Whitey”? No one doubts that large groups of youth having been acting up and even been menacing to others (black and white alike). But let’s face it — the sensational part of this story was the race angle. That is what the national media picked up on and that appears to be the part of the story uncorroborated. But the tactic worked: We are all talking about it.

  • American

    I have no reason to doubt this really happened. How about putting all of them on a flight and drop them in Iraq or Afghanistan. Lets see if they will miss “whitey” then.

  • Anonymous

    I have called the PPD about large fights at the McClure branch area at least three times this year.

  • What, if you would read you would find the answer in my post, “They were screaming and yelling, though I did not understand exactly what they were yelling.”

    Yes, I believe what brought national attention was the “whitey” comment, but trying to make the witness seem like a liar is a sad excuse for bad behavior. Shame on Van Auken for her comments about the new council members and about the witness.

  • Perhaps we could consider the aspect of – race? Nah, race isn’t a biological reality according to our politically correct masters, and their flunkies in the media.

    Black violence is incessant and rampant, especially against whites (statistics support this). But, lets keep pretending that this is not true; it’s more fun.

  • Sharon Crews

    I find it very difficult to ignore the comments of bloggers such as the one calling himself/herself “American” and others. How very unAmerican are his/her comments! My 25 cents’ worth:
    Do I believe Paul Wilkinson is a liar? No! Do I believe VanAuken has the right or even the knowledge to call him a liar or the new councilmen/women gullible? No! Do I believe that some of these young people might have been using racial references as their mantra at the time? Probably (and how would most neighbors know if they were in their houses). Do I believe that probably at the same time in one or more places on any given day or night there were or are a group of white people using the “N” word and making inflammatory comments about what should be done to solve the problems–for Heaven’s sake, they were making those comments on this blog. Which group should we tolerate? Which group should we say is guilty of hate speech? For right now, I think that if we just concentrate on behaviors and not pay as much attention to words we would all be better off. It is the hate words, not the actions, that drew national attention to Peoria.
    Clearly the city of Peoria was most interested in the words and as soon as they could call the reports about the words gross exaggerations, they were relatively satisfied–that’s what I gleaned from the press conference statements and from the PJS.
    Do I believe the police generally ignore the pleas of neighbors (black and white) about these disturbances to their peace and wellbeing? Yes. In fact, my recently deceased aunt and uncle lived off of McClure in an area plagued with urban problems. Their house was totally ransacked a few months ago. We had the definite impression that the police would do very little to try to apprehend the culprits. We were right.
    Do I know what to do about these problems? No! The problems and the solutions are two-tiered. The root causes are way beyond our control—but we should acknowledge them in recognition that, at least, one of them is the economic forces that have created such drastic changes in our labor market. The immediate solutions aren’t much easier, but whatever they are, we should keep the root causes in mind—so that we aren’t so quick to lay blame.
    First, I truly do believe that the young people should be called to task and held responsible for their behaviors. And the parents should, also, bear the responsibility. I don’t wish to play the blame game about what causes the behaviors. However, young people will become convinced that their behaviors are unacceptable only if they pay the consequences (and are exposed to choices within their reach)—that’s true of all of us. It’s human nature. And these young people won’t be able to better their lives if they see themselves as helpless victims who have no control over the consequences of their choices.
    Yes, I want safe neighborhoods for myself and for others. Those who have removed themselves as far as possible from the “Thrush Streets” of Peoria probably will find it difficult to concern themselves other than to offer unreasonable suggestions for solutions. That is harsh of me, but I have grown tired of hearing people imply that they have solved society’s problems by moving away from them—and telling people who live on the “Thrush Streets” how they should solve the problems. That’s the message I heard coming out of the recent press conference.

  • big-n-italian

    here is the question that i havent read asked or answered yet. 60-70, 20-30, whatever number of kids, is alot of kids. where did they all come from and how did they all manage to get together at the same time? was there a larger party somewhere? if there was, nobody has reported it which is suprising because i doubt it would be an orderly or quiet party. was it a planned organization maybe on a web site like facebook? i have seen these large crowds before in peoria and therefore i am not doubting that the story is true, but the engineer in me is just trying to figure out the details.

  • checking for details.

    I believe the statement about the threat has been verified by at least one other witness. WMBD radio had a call in and WHOI reportedly ran a story about another witness as well. WMBD ran a story a couple of nights about interviewing children who are at a party near University.

  • Sharon Crews

    The above article reveals how well-adjusted most teens are–those involved in sports, school activities, and school itself. We must keep remembering that we are talking about a miniority of students who wander aimlessly on the streets and through life. First of all, that should keep people from making judgment calls about all youth, especially all black youth. Please, please don’t make all black teenagers bear the stigma of their misbehaving peers. Secondly, because Peoria is a relatively small town (compared to big urban cities such as Chicago), we should be able to do something to help resolve the situations involving these relatively few teens.

  • Karrie E. Alms

    Amen … let’s deal with the problems and stop trying to malign, discredit, deny, sideline the messenger for bringing the field report you don’t want to hear and don’t want to resolve.

  • A Preservationist Who Cares

    biggie, your post got me thinking. Paul W. is well known in the area as a major league camera affecienado. You rarely ever see him out in public without a couple cameras w/ million-foot long telephoto lenses hanging around his neck. I can’t wait to see the photos of this angry mob so he can clear his name. I’m certain he has them, he takes photos of every other living thing in this city, I have no doubt he snapped some shots of this.

  • Creed Raulerson

    So these “kids” take advantage of the fact drivers have to slow down or hit them. So they make them slow down by gettting in front of them. RUN ’em over! Sounds like self-defense with a vehicle to me.

  • George

    [Comment deleted by blog owner]

  • Sharon Crews

    I wish this blog did not have to be hijacked by such ugliness. I am hoping with my whole heart that these are not Peoria people.

  • had enough

    WAKE UP PEOPLE! it’s coming soon! so i will not feel any pain for any of you bleeding hearts when it’s you or one of your family members that has been harassed, beaten, robbed, raped or murdered. this is a wake up call. IT’S TIME TO TAKE THIS COUNTRY BACK!!!!!!! enough catering to the minority’s. even tho they suffered a horrific start in this country, the blacks have had how many years, chances, opportunities, handouts etc… to get their $h!t together??????????? come on!!! most of them choose to live they way they do (its the thug life). i have mad respect for the ones who took the initiative to do something with their lives. look at history, where would the black man be today if his OWN people had not gathered him up and sold him to the white man and been able come to the GREAT U.S.A??? look at africa now. how they doing over there these days, eating well? living in a violent free neighborhoods? killing each other? the hispanics are next in line. they have already surpassed the percentage rate of the blacks in this country. not to mention the strain they have put on this country’s system. in my mind they are a bigger threat to the U.S.A more than anyone, i’m just sayin, and as far as i know the 1st ammendmet still stands (for now) . anyway i wasn’t always racist but society has made me this way in the last 40 years. i do not and never have agreed with slavery. no human should ever be treated that way. it is a crying shame that Lincoln’s master plan never come to life. wonder how many of you even really know what it was. good luck to all you bleeding hearts. your gonna need it, i’m sure it will be coming to your neighborhood sooner or later and surely you have seen how the government handles issues like this (black panthers 2008 and 2010 at the polling place in PA) look it up on you tube. how bout how eric holder just swept it under the white house carpet? and how this incident was pulled from the mainstream media. hmm… it was a fluke that i happen to even hear about it in FL. a dj from a local radio station just happen to be from peoria and mentioned it. i’m a avid news watcher. never heard a word about it on local, cbs, abc, nbc nor fox news channels. even my parents in central IL never heard a word about it. can you say “censorship”? makes me think that the reason it was squashed was because it would just give the blacks a green light to riot coast to coast. God help us!!

  • mortified

    OUCH!!!! Somebody needs a hug!!!! And lots of prayer!

  • mortified

    George I’m guessing you do not run a charm school…just a hunch.

  • cw

    I for one beleive every word Paul said..We have seen this happen in the northend,and are expecting one on the 4th of July..The minute the cops head to the southend around 10:30pm the area erupts..We’ve heard gun fire til 4am..Last year the swat team chased a couple thugs through our property and found one hiding in the storm culvert at the end of our drive and the other in Springdale..They were two suspects on the run from a earlier shooting.Cars were racing all over..From Phelps st to Haungs car windows had been broken out to warn people not to call police..They had control of the area for over 5 hours..No cops were available to respond right away..By the city shoving this under a rug and the PJS’s great reporting by Luciano the gangs are going to feel empowered that nothing will happen to them..And if it does, somehow it will end up the Whites fault.Have a safe day…

  • Sharon Crews

    cw–you had me until the last sentence. This problem will never be resolved until we stop making it about race. These problems plague black people just as much and more than they plague you–in fact, the fear is what keeps them from reporting such incidents to the police. I know a black family that lives in the same area about which you speak–they have tried to keep drug dealers out of their neighborhood for the last 20 years. Just use common sense–if every black family in Peoria was creating these problems, then we would not have a city.

  • true, however

    Sharon, you are correct. However, the “group” made it about race, we did not.

  • tom

    It was predicted that with the onset of Obamas Presidency that race wars would become a huge issue, led by the media. That instead of a cooling off the exact opposite would begin to happen. How correct this prediction was.

  • Sharon Crews

    It’s like the chicken and the egg argument. This relatively small group of teenagers didn’t start the race argument. It began the first day America began enslaving a whole race of people. I wasn’t here at the time of slavery either; however, I have relatives who were–and you don’t have to guess which side they were on. I have accepted all the good influences that I inherited from them–I have to accept the bad, also. If I were black, I would try my best to teach my children that they aren’t victims and to rise above the past. Since I am white, I have always been willing to apologize to black young people and adults for the dispicable past in our history–and to show them that race doesn’t make a difference to me–and it doesn’t.

    My own neighborhood is racially mixed–most of the time my “house” is “mixed” with my “borrowed” grandchildren and cousins who are racially mixed. Since they day I started teaching, I have lived in a racially mixed world–and my life has been enriched by it.

    I know that my own experiences have changed the way I look at the world. Also, I know that I would be very upset, scared, and probably tempted to point fingers if my own neighborhood were plagued by the events that I know go on all over the city. I, too, plan my life based on the threats on our city streets. I travel on many of the streets where trouble is likely to break out. I don’t shop or drive at night, etc. Yes, I resent having to worry about when and where I can shop and drive.

    However, I do understand while not condoning the causes of these urban problems. Also, I have no problem with making the young people responsible accountable for their actions–through the legal system, a system of justice on which we as Americans have prided ourselves. I speak out often about District 150’s unwillingness to even try to make students and their parents accountable for bad behaviors.

    For any who want to make it about race, then take on the responsibility of putting an end to all drug sales to white people. For those who all hold all black people accountable for gangs, etc., then white people need to do their part to end the drug trade. Make no mistake, most of the urban problems revolve around the drug trade. The turf “wars” are all about money–drugs are a business and many teenage “sellers” (black and white) count on the drug trade to make them rich. That hope keeps them from taking education seriously. They know they can make more money selling drugs than by working.

  • Hmmm

    Some issues affect one demographic more than others and we should talk about that. We hear often about test scores, education, and incomes of different genders, ethic groups, etc. If we count the youth hanging out as groups in the streets of peoria at 11pm around the city a demographic would emerge. In factual aspects race should be acknowledged. With a certain newspaper’s recent articles by trying to avoid or dodge the issues I think they served only to enflame it creating the perceptions of racism being involved. IMHO any group of young group who congregate in those numbers at that time of night is going to be inclined to cause some mayhem and be source of intimidating. Maybe next time we’ll be hearing about a group of caucasin kids after a cheifs game that gets unruley in the streets.

  • We used to live in Peoria years ago in the Perry St. area. My husband was falsely accused by two little black girls of spraying them with a hose. A whole group of neighbors showed up along with a police officer to watch what would happen. When it was determined that they were lying, the young black men let it be known that no justice had been served, that he was guilty and that they were just letting him off the hook because he was white. It was scary then. I can’t imagine what it’s like now.

    Peoria will be the next Detroit if this isn’t taken seriously.

    Very sad, but so thankful to God we got out of there. Last one out shut the lights off.

  • Wallenstein

    Will someone call Jesse Jackson and ask him to speak to his people!

  • mortified

    Again, over here offering free hugs and prayer to those in need.

  • Mike

    I felt too bad to leave it as it was so let me throw my 2 cents in as well…

    And because I know you won’t read all the way down just to get this part, here it is;

    “Operating under the assumption that the system, the simple “way things are” is Whitey… then yes. No one wants to move to your neighborhood. It is now worthless.”

    The truth about Whitey

    It’s been said “The man is keepin’ us down..” or “Whitey is responsible for” this or that…. Well, truth is you are correct. (I know I’m not the only white kid to have grown up in a poor community and I also know people don’t say those exact words now, so I apologize) It is in fact “Whitey’s” fault, however not how you may suspect.

    There is no grand conspiracy, no club with membership cards (unless you’re one of those weird people in which case you have less influence than you or anyone else thinks really). The community at large can be thought of as “Whitey” or “The Man” and at the moment, rightly so. In the Greater Peoria Metropolitan area, as of whenever this census was, ( 65.1 % of the people here are white. What does this have to do with anything? Nothing. It’s not a race thing at all. That’s Misconception number one.

    So then if it has nothing to do with anything, how is it correct it is in fact “Whitey’s” fault? Well, here’s the thing, someone once asked me what I thought a house was worth, my answer was a ripped off one I had heard elsewhere. It was, “Whatever you can get someone to pay for it”. And that’s primarily where the system screws the down trodden and this is how it happens.

    Let’s say you had a normal job and made normal money. You go to get a loan and a local bank gives you the loan, only the loan officer knows a bit about the world and suspects the property you are buying will not increase in value at the same rate as average real estate will. The bank will need a greater margin of error to recover should you default and therefore you get the loan for the house but the interest rate is slightly higher. You have a tad less money every month. This in turn means your community, every place where you spend your cash, has a tad less money, this in turn means your community hires a tad less people, which in turn means fewer people in your community have money… and on and on.

    Now this twenty or so dollars certainly isn’t going to break the community as a whole but consider all of your neighbors, except for that one old guy who’s house was paid off after world war two the day he bought it, are also paying higher interest right? Now we’re talking thousands of dollars.

    Believe it or not, average houses appreciate about 3 % per year in value. This is why the property taxes keep going up. Because the asset you are holding is worth more money. This is great news, if you should decide to move, not only could you get your cash back out of your home, but you also get more money on top of that. In addition to that, the commercial real estate in your neighborhood is valued at what those properties make over a ten-year time span. Right away you think of the gas station and how that dude who barely speaks English must sell thousands of dollars worth of glass bongs and is rolling in cash, but think of this; The apartments within that community are the cash cows. They are pulling in five hundred bucks or more per unit! That’s thousands upon thousands of dollars! A 100-unit apartment building in a community could be pulling down 50000 a month! Of course they have expenses, but they aren’t 50k that’s for sure.

    “Damn when are you going to tell me why it’s Whitey’s fault?” Ok, ok… let me point out 2 more things and I’ll drop it on ya ok. The opportunities within a community are the only things that community should value in my opinion. If you can move to Antarctica, you could own millions of acres of land; hell you could be the President of Antarctica right? Who cares? There’s nothing there. Well that’s the bad end of the spectrum. What is an acre of land worth in Manhattan? Probably more than all the land in Antarctica combined. That would be the good end. Why its value is so high is this, if you work for someone to get money, it’s not that big of a deal. If you however have to run your own business, it becomes obvious right away. Let’s say you sell pizza. You can sell pizza to every last human in Antarctica and make maybe a dollar, assuming someone gave you a dollar to buy it for yourself. In Times Square, your odds of selling pizza are much larger. Now re-read that line where commercial property is worth about what it makes over a ten-year time span.

    The system is set up to work. That is all, nothing more or less. You can play the game to lose to the system or benefit from it. If your community has 10 dollars, it can spend 1 dollar on schools, 1 dollar on parks, and 8 bucks on cops. Or, OR your community can spend 1 dollar on cops and 4 bucks on schools and 4 bucks on parks and a dollar for a statue of some dude that died a long time ago or something.

    So… here it is. When sh… stuff like race wars and mobs of people beating another mob of people hits the news, people… believe it or not, don’t say to themselves, “Hey, now that’s a place I want to move to and open a pizza shop!” So guess what happens. Your mom and your dad and your grandparents and any and everyone you know and love within that community… each and every last one of them lose a shit lode of money. If everyone of the kids involved was arrested and fined 1000 bucks, it probably would be cheaper than the value that community would otherwise loose. Why? Surely it’s Whitey right?

    Operating under the assumption that the system, the simple “way things are” is Whitey… then yes. No one wants to move to your neighborhood. It is now worthless. You can sell your house but you will probably still owe more money than it is worth. You can try to open your own business after your employer leaves the community but who’s got money for you? Certainly not the people who just tried to sell their house but can’t because they owe 2 times what it’s worth. Oh well right, at least my kids will have a better life than me right?

    No. They are going to the schools that are funded by the cash that’s left over after. AFTER the cops get paid right? (That’s not %100 correct but imagine a whole community of communities) So guess where they’ll be working? Right here. If they can even find a job. So angry and disgruntled and feeling completely disenfranchised, they and their friends walk down the street bitching aloud about the trite life they lead, throwing trash or rocks at passersby… just like I did when I was a kid.

    So if you think I may be on to something, and want my opinion as to what to do… well honestly, I don’t know. The obvious is being a bigger part of your children’s lives. Show them there is a way up. I have kids myself and to be completely honest, it sucks. It’s too much work. I, more often than not, don’t know what I’m doing. So what I do is I get help. Lean on your family, your friends, your community. Schools, cops, clergy… everyone. It takes a tribe to raise a child as the saying goes.

    Take pride in your community, after all it’s your child’s parent right? I don’t mean that to be smart, it’s true. You community can hit a “tipping” point where people start to take notice. They’ll say, “Damn, those people down the street fixed up their house, did a little landscaping… maybe we should do something, maybe get our house in shape and sell it for some serious cash”. And some will. Some will stay, in fact most I’d bet.

    The commercial property will have greater traffic too and my first reaction to that is “so what”. “That don’t make me no money”, right? That’s right but the property taxes for commercial property make that ten bucks your community was splitting between everything turn into 14 bucks. One of those angry kids walking down the street bitching about everything, happens to love music so he gets a job in the new music store, makes a little money, meets a few people, man there’s no telling what his future holds. So yeah that commercial property has a lot of potential for your community.

    When those kids succeeded in making the news with their mob of anger, they cost themselves and their community thousands upon thousands of dollars. They cost themselves opportunities. They spent their futures and the future of their community. It wasn’t that “Whitey” meant for it to happen. The system for success was put into place but unfortunately it just isn’t being taken advantage of.

  • EB Voice

    This blog has been worthless every since you lost the election. There use to be daily postings and interesting disccusions. Now theres just blather.

  • EmergePeoria

    Everybody was soooo concerned when Peoria Chronicle was down. If it was going back up just so racist commenters can continue – it should have stayed down.