Letter to the editor:
I would like to set the record straight on several inaccuracies in Grant Pick's article "The Streets Have Eyes" (November 19) about the Uptown Peace Patrol. Prince Crockrom and Anton Miglietta were indeed in attendance at our monthly CAPS meeting on October 5, but that is where reality ends. According to the author, "the regulars complained about petty crime committed by kids. 'They talked about little kids like they were predators,' says Miglietta."
I was also at the meeting and, judging from his remarks, Mr. Miglietta must have been experiencing auditory hallucinations that evening. During the meeting the only "kid" that was discussed was a 19-year-old gang member from Oak Park. The real truth is that children were not discussed at this meeting. This was merely fabricated by Mr. Miglietta so he could make his point. Additionally, Miglietta and Crockrom attended as individuals. They did not announce themselves as members of the Uptown Peace Patrol or any other organization. If Grant Pick had questioned other attendees or the meeting facilitator about it, he would have realized this.
Mr. Miglietta further stated "they want to clean out poor people and black people so their property values will rise." One resident that was victimized happens to be an African-American senior citizen who lives in CHA housing and is a highly respected member of our community. Residents involved in the CAPS program, property owners and renters alike, have provided ongoing support and encouragement for this neighbor, as they would for anyone. Mr. Miglietta's statements surprise me since, as a regular attendee, I have only seen him or Mr. Crockrom at two CAPS meetings in the last four years. Where is he getting these ideas? Anton Miglietta's claims fly in the face of what has been demonstrated by dedicated residents who strive to reduce crime and improve the quality of life in Uptown. He automatically assumes that "condo owners" and "property owners" have nothing more than the value of their homes in mind. Well, let me assure Mr. Miglietta that my personal safety is much more important to me than the dollar value of my home.
And I am especially disturbed that adults who are the organizing force behind the Uptown Peace Patrol and Stop Criminalization (Anton Miglietta, board members Marc Kaplan, George Atkins, Stan McKinney, et al) are polluting young minds with the idea that home owners or anyone who participates in community meetings such as CAPS are merely out to get the young and the poor. Prince Crockrom claims he grew up as a member of the Uptown Peace Patrol and his statements show how this attitude has been passed on. He said, "Property owners who usually attend CAPS meetings, they don't have kids....Their view of kids is to lock 'em up....They are stereotyping us out of fear." Has Mr. Crockrom (or anyone within UPP/SC, for that matter) ever tried to talk to "one of us." Mr. Crockrom "insists that the meetings will become productive only when the property owners change their way of thinking." This is a strange conclusion to draw when, again, he has only been to one or two meetings and crime among young people was never even discussed. I say it is the Uptown Peace Patrol that needs to change its attitude!
It is also the Uptown Peace Patrol that is being self-serving and exclusionary. Volunteers have been purposely turned away because they own property or have been labeled as "one of them." Believe me, I speak from experience. I have volunteered my services as an adult mentor not once but twice. The second time was at the very same CAPS meeting mentioned above. I must have had "Evil Gentrifier" written across my forehead. Mr. Crockrom nervously mumbled some excuse as to why he had not contacted me when I previously volunteered. I gave him my card, and he assured me again that he would be in contact. That was eight weeks ago and still no call. Yet Grant Pick stated several times that the Uptown Peace Patrol "couldn't find enough volunteers" and were "looking for more volunteers." Obviously, they only want volunteers who will help perpetuate the divisive and isolating idea of "Us vs. Them."
In closing, I must say that despite the one-sided report, Grant Pick's article did teach me something; it taught me that the Uptown Peace Patrol chooses to indoctrinate the young with a "victim mentality." I had wrongly assumed that such an organization would want to empower children by teaching them to embrace the diversity of our community and develop relationships with those different from themselves. Rather, the Uptown Peace Patrol teaches them to hate and fear. It is disappointing that an organization that could foster positive role models for children chooses instead to distort their potential for relationships with the world beyond their circle. How very sad. More succinctly, in the words of Thomas Sowell, a senior fellow at California's Hoover Institute, "There are few things more dishonorable than misleading the young."
Grant Pick replies:
In reporting on the October 5 CAPS meeting, I talked to David Rowe, the meeting facilitator, as well as to Anton Miglietta and Prince Crockrom.