Crusader staff report
Bait trucks with Nike gym shoes that served to lure and arrest residents in Englewood will no longer be used after public outcry.
The railroad company, Norfolk Southern, is removing the trucks after residents protested a sting operation that involved Chicago Police officers and the railroad’s private security team seizing and arresting people who entered unlocked trucks that were packed with Nike gym shoes. Three people were arrested from the operation and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson and Mayor Rahm Emanuel remain silent about a controversial operation that has further deepened distrusts in their leadership in the Black community.
A spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department said they were not involved in planning the sting operation. But questions remain why the city’s police force was allowed and participated in an operation that served to entrap residents with merchandise.
Norfolk Southern promised that it will not use the tactic again. Dubbed “Operation Trailer Trap” the truck were left parked near 59th Place and Princeton Avenue in Englewood.
The story was first reported by the website Block Chicago, which posted a video of the incident that went viral. The operation drew heavy criticism from neighborhood residents, activists and the American Civil Liberties Union.
In a letter, Norfolk Southern spokesperson Herbert Smith said “Norfolk Southern recognizes that, despite the need to safeguard freight in the area, this operation eroded trust between law enforcement and the community. We sincerely regret that our actions caused further unease, and we don’t plan to use this method in the futures,”
Smith also said the operation was “in direct response to ongoing cargo theft from parked and locked containers and trailers in that area,” Smith said. “It must be noted that these break-ins included theft of guns and ammunition that found their way into the local community. We welcome a dialogue with the community, and we already have reached out to local officials to discuss how best to prevent freight theft, improve community relations, and rebuild mutual trust.”
A spokesperson for Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx told the Chicago Sun-Times that the three people who were arrested in the operation will have their cases dismissed and will not be charged.