The Crusader Newspaper Group
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Alderman under police protection still defiant

Crusader staff report

Alderman Raymond Lopez’s life is in danger but he won’t recant a controversial comment that got him into trouble with a documented street gang. Since Monday, the 15th ward alderman has been under police protection at his home, office and in public.

It’s been an intense week for Lopez, but for the past five days, it’s been an emotional one for the relatives of Adriana and Michael Williams. The two were among a crowd of people attending a memorial for Daniel Cordova on Monday, May 8 at 46th Place and Rockwell Street in Brighton Park. Two masked gunmen emerged from an alley and unleashed a hail of bullets on the mourners. Ten people were shot; Adriana and Michael were killed.

The shootings were among many that have occurred in the Brighton Park neighborhood.

After police said Michael had gang affiliations, Alderman Lopez commented, “I am thankful today that no innocent lives were lost. No children were shot. No police officers were shot.”

After Lopez made the remark, a threat attributed to a well-known Hispanic street gang prompted Chicago Police to provide him security.

The comment set off a string of angry responses from neighborhood residents. By Monday afternoon, police were providing round-the-clock security for Lopez at his home and his ward office. One law enforcement source reportedly said the alderman had received threats.

“Calling these kids terrorists and thugs. You can’t do that!,” said resident Mauro Pineda.

According to WGN-TV, one woman who was eventually led away by police said one of the victims from a recent shooting was a relative, and she was outraged by the alderman’s strong words about gang violence.

Asked if he had any regrets about the remark he made, Lopez emphatically said “no.”

On Tuesday, May 9, Lopez said gang members had previously threatened him on social media when he took steps to crack down on them in his Southwest ward which includes West Englewood, Gage Park and Back of the Yards. Lopez showed up at City Hall without police protection for a meeting of the City Council’s Zoning Committee while officers continued to guard his home and ward office.

“These individuals who were involved in both situations are documented gang members. And when you lead a lifestyle like this, those kinds of activities—those kinds of results do happen, unfortunately,” he said.

“Nobody told those young individuals to become gang members, to create a gang memorial and to make themselves targets. We were trying to diffuse that situation. Police were very actively trying to prevent any kind of memorial because they knew what would happen and this was the outcome.”

“However my comment is taken, the point remains that we have people who are willing to kill indiscriminately to maintain this culture of gang violence and retaliatory warfare in our communities,” Lopez said.

 

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