Little Village: What if they raided your shopping district?

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A band of federal agents wearing bulletproof vests and armed with machine guns swarmed a strip mall on 26th Street looking for people making fake social security cards and green cards at 2 o'clock in the afternoon.
They raided the photo shop owned by Ald. Rick Munoz's father, who was "visibly upset" by the whole thing.

How would you feel if ...

the feds descended on a popular stretch of Lincoln Avenue or suburban malls such as River Oaks, Orland Square, Oak Brook or Northbrook Court armed to the hilt looking for people involved in a fake ID operation?

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Personally, I know I'd get the hell out of there if I saw some SWAT team looking dudes. I certainly wouldn't be standing around watching or waiting for them to give me orders. I'm gone. At Oakbrook, at 2 PM in the afternoon it would be all yentas and housemoms with their kids at the mall, and I'm sure they'd all be going bonkers.

The residents of that area are used to gang shoot outs and other serious crimes. Why are they so scared of guns carried by those agents? The agents had to protect themselves. The only fear they really had was wondering who of them was going to be deported back to Mexico because so many of the residents in that neighborhood are illegal. The residents also know that there has been an illegal identification ring going on for years! Listen, I've lived in and near that neighborhood my entire life, they're not fooling anyone.

I think the Feds did a great job in Little Village to bad they didn't get all the guns in that neiborhood or arrest all the gang members that live there and probably have the same guns the Feds have. I'm Latino and grew up in Pilsen, I say send them all back to Mexico including the ones that live in Pilsen, arrest the gang members and take away the firearms they have hidden because if there is a shoot-out I believe the gangs will evenly match the fire power the Feds and Chicago Police have.

Before answering that question - phrased as it is in some pretty biased and inflammatory language - I'd want to know a lot more.

What reason did the feds have to go in heavily armed and in force? Where they really carrying "machine guns" or simply automatic weapons / light machine guns? You're taking Munoz at his word on this?

Your phrasing of the question almost invites anti-law enforcement answers.

So far, the bloggers on this issue have not made any anti-law enforcement answers. It seems most welcomed the "raid" for trying to clean up, albeit just a little, the crime that's taking place in Little Village. Hopefully, the raid sends a message to these criminals and gangbangers in Little Village and other troubled neighborhoods. Maybe the protesters in Little Village would rather see illegals shooting each other up in their neighborhood than federal agents trying to stop crime. Which is more scary? And let's not forget that these Federal agents were going into this thing blind. They don't know what's behind those doors they're going through. What if the criminals they were trying to catch were armed to the teeth? It's only right that these agents were appropriately armed. The reaction was such because of hindsight--residents didn't hear a shoot out, so they were angered that the Feds were carrying "machine guns" and that the Feds overreacted. But, if they took the time to put themselves in that agent's shoes, they would do the same thing. The agents certainly have a right to protect themselves.

Good gravey!!! What's the big deal about Police Officers being armed. Heck i once saw a Chicago Police Officer write a parking ticket and he had a gun on!!!! I'm looking at pictures from the latest spring break that some of my friends enjoyed south of the border just recently. Strangely enough there are several pictures of Mexican law enforcement, riding on and in an open vehicles, shucks, they all appeared to be armed to the teeth, didn't stop the partying one moment. I willingly to bet that NOT ONE of those agents was carrying a machine gun, maybe semi automatics. Some had the audacity to be wearing bullet proof vests, heaven forbid those who might had been wearing blouse pants and shiney booths. The next time some poor kid is shot down in the streets of Little Village, let's see how long it will take before the community, man the street and demand justice.
Now if you really want to hear something funny
this is an excert from an organization in and around Los Angeles

Vamos A sobre La Carrea
Vamos A sobre La Carrea
profundamente en mi corazon
creo realmento
Vanos A sobre La Carrea
un dia

Now this probably going to go over real big in the Black communities, along with the sanctuary seeking maiden who think she is the Hispanic version of Rosa Parks, and all of those jobs that even American Blacks will not work, let's not forget those
Memin Pinguin stamps issued by the Mexican Government. Now the residents in Little village have become so sensitive about someone intruding onto or near their neighborhood, maybe they should look at some of the stuff that they are tossing around

What a bunch of mis informed arrogant jerks!
Part of the reason for the anger was that there were pregnant women and young children in the mall area, there is a family clinic on that site. Can you imagine being a preschooler and seeing this raid?
As we say in Spanish 'No confundas la magnesia con la gymnasia' , If people are quoting the Civil Rights Movement in the US it is because we look to it as a model of how a community can work together and create change. In no way are we trying to disrespect or diminish the work of African Americans - research the election of Harold and you'll see that the Latino community came together to help in that effort.
And as for you alls bs on the gangs - there are many non profits, churches and parents working to find alternatives to that lifestyle for our youth, the difference is that we still see them as OUR kids and not wasted lives to be destroyed so we don't want unneccesary violence from the gov or in the streets.
I hope you have better info before mouthing off next time

Funny how the residents here in Little Village get all together in protest when law agents are trying to prevent crime, but when their own gang-banging sons actually fire their guns on the streets and kill innocent civilians, they just turn their eye.

Really most of the comments regarding this article are from arrogant ignorant fools. I LIVE in little village grew up in Little Village, i have dealt with gangs, i have lived what you fools so simply address in order to say something negative covered with anti violence stances. Who in this neighborhood really likes violence? Who in any neighborhood likes violence? Thats a stupid and borderline racist notion. What do you all assume we are animals and love kids shooting people? As a member of the community, i can say a very clear NO to you fools.

The whole ICE coming in with BIG guns, semi automatic, single shot, giant bazookas, its all the same guns are guns. Being that their information is so dead on and accurate as they say it is why not hold stake outs for the individuals involved in this ring falsifying documents? Why the necessity to enter a mall, guns drawn and aimed at ANYONE in sight? Why drag women from bathrooms that had nothing to do with the ring? Why not aim something more accurate? why enter a big mall and round up people? Why allow such a giant risk? If those alleged criminals had guns and were violent, assuming, why risk an entire community in their own mall?
Because it was a GIANT SHOW to say to that very community here we come!!!!!
And i wont even go in to any details about how a lot of the times ICE says theyre going after dangerous criminals with warrants!! oohhh scary!!! Which in reality are mostly people who chose to stay or come back after being instructed to leave the country.
So if your comfortable being here AFTER YOUR past ancestors got you and your family here, and are all bent outta shape that other people want to come here then yes your gonna say 'these people' are criminlas and should be hunted down. Rrrrrelax. Your quiet racism doesnt fool anyone. Brown people, different people are scary to you.
Nafta? Heard of that? Fomenting poverty in other countries is going to cause what now? yes, A movement of people seeking something better. You all act as if people CHOOSE to live in poor conditions. A lack of resources in a community will result in the current state of affairs. WE ARE NOT ANIMALS and all of your arrogant simple minded opinions from a safe and comfortable places stand up to nothing in a world more complicated and intricate than, "oh look their complaining about guns and police with guns."
Really this country should stop harming other countries, invading other countries and pushing economical ANYTHINGS in other countries if it harms economies and harms peoples ways of life. For one because thats just WRONG and because then the world gets people like above here who want all the cakes and want to eat them too.

Userful blog. Thanks!

I grew up in Little Village and when I was financially able to leave, I did it without turning back. The reason is simple. Gangs, drugs, murders, rapes, beatings . . . should I say more? The fake ID business is a well known fact to everyone in that area. It must be stopped. I am latina but I don't agree with what is going on there. I believe that illegal immigration has gotten out of control. The come here and use services that we citizens pay for. They receive WIC, free daycare (CCI program), and free medical cards to give birth to their children. A lot of hard working class families without insurance don't have the same privilages. And low they believe they are above the law, can produce these fake IDs and cry "racism" when they get caught?! Please!! Kudos to the Feds! It's about time!!

I grew up in Little Village for over 30 years. After going to Gary, McCormick and Blessed Agnes for CCD classes, I am glad I am out of that rat infested neighborhood.

Sounds dirty, but its true.

When I grew up their in the 70's when Frank Stemberk was the Ald of the 22nd Ward, we did not have as many illegal conversions like now.

The neighborhood is terrible and the current Ald. Rick Munoz, what has he accomplished?

Hate to say, his father is in trouble for what the neighborhood has known for decades of Photo Studio Munoz practices on 26th St.

I am happy the FBI, ICE showed up on that mall. Their is still illegal activity over their in the 12th Ward (now).

Funny that all these people come out of their basement and attic apartments to protest and community outsiders about what happened at the Discount Mall.

If the community cares so much, why is it that they don't go to the 10th District CAPS meetings or get involved in their child's education, maybe by joining a Local School Council?

They only come out in numbers when its Ash Wednesday or nightclubing.

The city needs to do something about illegal conversions in Little Village and Ald's Rick Munoz and George (HDO) Cardenas who is east of Kedzie, have not done anything other than draft a ordinance to tax bottled water.

Question: Washburne Trade school is coming down, what's next their?

It's funny how people can judge from the person even talks about little village back in the 70's and it's 2008...I won't deny that there is a gang and drug problem here but to go and say people in the community don't take action to resolve this is just see groups of 75-100 people walking through the streets on a summer night protesting the gun violence (cease fire) also they have b-ball tournaments to get kids away from the streets and gangs...But some kids just idolize the lifestyle of gangs which is wrong...also what happened in discount mall was wrong for the reason that they came in with ak-47 in the middle of the day while people are if they were getting ready for war...naturally people would be startled especially for the reputation law enforcement has in this community

Gangs and drugs is what comes to mind when you mention Little Village. Its sad to say that so many people think of my Hood in that way but their is good reason for it...its infested by drugs and violence. the 2 Gangs that control Little Village are the Latin Kings and The 26 boys, these are 2 of the most violent street gangs in the city who Take Lives with no hesitation. Now i ask you this, what would people be saying had the police raided Munoz studio and a shoot out took place? believe me the Gangs are heavily armed and had the police been out gunned some of you people leaving comments would've been asking why did we go in to this violent hood knowing the gangs had guns? The Swat did the right thing.
As for the shoppers seeing all this , believe me , they are used to seeing this so its no surprise to see this on 26thst. its part of everyday life. when you walk down your street and see 3 guys jump out a car and open fire on a group of boys, who return fire like a scene out of movie and your used to this , swat teams with ak's dont bother you much.

I lived there for more than 10 years, I know that there are lot of things going on. But listen buch of??? People that work there (States) Ilegally and have different benefits, they deserve it. Because they are contributing to the American Economy, you you people ( Pochos and Amercian) do not want to do the work illegals are willing to why don't shut your big mouth up!...I am really glad what is happening to the US economy right not...

I wish your economy just go down the drain...and I think it is heading there....I hope you guys get rid of all illegals there..let's see what happends>>

Ja, ja, ja,

Frustration, Anger and Deception is what comes to mind. I spend years of sacrafice dedicated my life to tahtwhat is my profession educating.Really I didnt need to go to college and prepare to educate students from a low income neighborhood. Farragut Career Academy is what for some years I called home. This is where I changed so many lifes. All I really needed to do was get in the Principal' inner circle Ms. Theresa Plascencia. What did I do wrong? That is what I ask myself. I know now I and the other teachers that were let go did not party with her during school hours when she was no where to be found in the school. I'm very frustrated that I didnt party and arrived drunk with her inner circle such as her so rumored girlfriend that is employed by her at SCHOOL FUNCTIONS. Professionalim is what she likes to predicate. Her inner circle should lead the way. They do not have to follow rules. Why?

Alhough it is true that the little village/pilsen neighborhoods are violence and drug infested, that does not make it alright for ICE agents to barge into the shoping mall wearing bullet proof vests and armed with machine guns! They took it to far! How some of the bloggers up there can say that the residents shouldn't be alarmed, I dont understand them. Of course we would be alarmed. You would be too. Dont bother saying that you wouldn't be. All the bloggers that say that they have lived in that area and say its an everyday thing say it as though it makes no difference to them. Yes what was going on in that shopping mall is illegal, and they should be punished for it. But why the big show? Why bring all those people to stand outside the mall with those big guns and the vests? Why not arrest them at their home or something? Simple. They wanted to cause fear. They wanted to show many of the illegal immigrants that live in the area that they are not afraid to take action against illegal activity. Why else would they do it? Do you honestly think that if there was an illegal I.D. buisness somewhere in downtown Chicago they would go out there with the big guns and the vests? No. They wouldnt. Thats why we claim racisim. Thats why we're mad at the way they handled things. Some of the bloggers up there say that we want to be treated differently then everyone else. Wrong! We're aggravated because we're treated differently! Yes, we use the services that are available to us. However they are not only paid for by citizens. Many illegal immigrants pay taxes too. Even though we pay taxes the way citizens do, we recive less benifits. But you dont hear us complaining do you. Yes some of the residents are illegal and they do try to become legal. But do you have any idea how long that can take? I know people who have been waiting for almost 11 years to become a citizen. Most of the people who come here illegaly dont have a choice. Some of them are recently married couples with a child on the way, who cannot support themselves making the money they make at their jobs in their native countries. They dont do it by choice, they do it by need. They dont want to leave their families. They dont want to leave their homes. They dont want to leave everything behind to start all over in a place they dont know, with a language they dont speak, which they must learn very quickly to survive. You say we turn a blind eye against the violence in our neighborhoods. Wrong again! Do you have any idea how many programs there are for our youth, to help them stay off the streets? There are former gang members that go around to those programs at talk to at risk youth to help them change their lifestyles. YMCAs, Boys and Girls clubs, after school programs in schools all around the neighborhoods. Many of the schools in the area provide intramural sports teams after school. El Zocalo Urbano, Caza Azatzlan, they're all there to help. All of you that want all the illegal immigrants to be deported to their county of origin. Answer me this, how much more are your fruits and vegetables going to cost when the farm owners have to raise their wages a substantial amount in order to attract workers? How many bisneses will be forced to close because they have no customers and or workers? How many neighborhoods will become virtual ghost towns when all the illegals leave? Because let me tell you, if there is even one illegal who is forced to leave, the whole family leaves. Where are you going to find a maid or a nanny who will work for the crap wages they recive without complaining? How much higher are your taxes going to be when the government realizes that a large part of the money they recive comes from the undocumented, and that the money the get from their citezens wont be enough for the war? For your social security? For your states education? Think about that for a minute. Still want to send the illegals out? O.k. But when your economy crashes and burns. Dont be offended if we laugh a little and say "we told you so".

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Mark Konkol

Mark Konkol covers city neighborhoods for the Chicago Sun-Times. You can e-mail him or call (312) 321-2146.

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