Chicago gang summit draws sparse crowd of gangsters

Sept. 29, 2013 at 10:18 AM
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CHICAGO, Sept. 29 (UPI) -- The minister who organized a so-called gang summit in Chicago said he was not surprised at the low turnout.

Around two dozen gang members from the city's violent streets turned out at the National Unity Summit Saturday at the Salem Baptist Church, and the Rev. Gregory Tate said there were a number of reasons for the light turnout.

"They want to see if this is the same-old, same-old," Tatum told the Chicago Tribune. "And I understand that. I think they want to see some real change."

Tatum grew up in Chicago's notorious Cabrini Green housing project and is now based in Los Angeles, a city that has had gang and street-crime issues of its own. But he said his out-of-town status seemed to have hampered his attempt to win the support of Chicago clergy, city politicians and the gang members.

"Overall, they didn't know anything about me," Tatum said. "I think that was the greatest fear, not knowing who I am."

Tio Hardiman, who ran Operation Ceasefire in Chicago and is now a candidate for governor, spoke at the event. He ticked off reasons hard-core gangsters were so few, including a lack of transportation, reluctance to publicly declare gang affiliation and the early-morning start time.

He also chided Chicago churches for not getting behind the summit.

Tatum said he was undaunted and told the Chicago Sun-Times he hoped the word about what was said at the summit would circulate. "We got ex-leaders from different sections of Chicago gangs that are committed to this, and it's going to matriculate all the way down to street level."

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