‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: Englewood

The community of Englewood has been in the spotlight this week, after a police-involved shooting touched off property damage and theft Sunday night into Monday morning. A couple of nights ago, protesters clashed with police and other neighbors.

But Englewood community leaders say that overlooks the work they do to prevent weeks like this one.

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Artist and project designer Eric Hotchkiss said a community art project just last Saturday brought together several groups, including RAGE, the Resident Association of Greater Englewood, the Englewood Arts Collective and his own business, Made in Englewood. The groups took over a corner lot with a history of violence, adding art, murals and activities for kids.

“There are ... many spaces in Englewood that aren't occupied at all. They're abandoned. When we say take over, we say that we are doing it ourselves (and) not the city, so this is work of the residents,” Hotchkiss said.

The group Growing Home echoed that refrain. It’s an urban nonprofit farm that provides more than 30,000 pounds of food – by sale and donation – to the community in this food desert. It also provides job training for people who've struggled to find work because of previous criminal charges.

“A lot of Englewood residents are making changes for themselves,” said Growing Home’s Janelle St. John. “Everyone thinks we're all sitting here waiting for someone to come solve our problems. We're here trying to solve our problems, but we do need resources. Equity is an issue ... but understand that we're prepared to implement those changes ourselves.”

One change coming to the neighborhood: the Cook County Circuit Court is opening a Restorative Justice Community Court in Englewood. Its Monday ribbon cutting was postponed, but it’s scheduled to start on Sept. 14. The court gives people ages 18-26 a chance to make amends with the community and with those they’ve wronged without pleading guilty to a criminal charge. The court will also offer them services to help them change their life for the better.

“Say you did something because you didn't have a job,” said Judge Donna Cooper, an Englewood native who will preside over the court. “Maybe you don't have a job because you don't have an ID. Or there's something you need in order to go ahead with your live. We’re going to give them services that would help them get an ID, if they need counseling to have counseling, if they need job training to have job training.”

Video: Watch our full interview with Donna Cooper.

Community journalist Rashanah Baldwin of Good in Englewood says the angry clashes that made news earlier this week don’t tell Englewood’s story – but that her community still has unmet needs that city leaders must address.

“We need the basic four to five things that make a community thriving: economic development, quality housing, great access to health care, jobs that are tangible, jobs that are going to stay in these communities and not leave after they get the tax breaks,” Baldwin said. “We need our 7th district police department, the cops that don't look like me, the white cops, to be a part of these conversations, to pull back those layers and sit down with us and really address the tension that exists racially.”

Video: Watch our full interview with Rashanah Baldwin.


Community Reporting Series

“Chicago Tonight” is expanding its community reporting. We’re hitting the streets to speak with your neighbors, local businesses, agencies and leaders about COVID-19, the economy, racial justice, education and more. See where we’ve been and what we’ve learned by using the map below. Or select a community using the drop-down menu. Points in red represent our series COVID-19 Across Chicago; blue marks our series “Chicago Tonight” in Your Neighborhood.

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