Alderman under police protection after comments inspire gang threats

CHICAGO -- A Southwest Side alderman is under police protection Monday night after his strong words about violence in the community sparked threats from a local street gang.

Tensions are high in the Brighton Park neighborhood after two days of gang-related shootings in the area. Police and politicians hit the streets with area residents Monday, trying to take them back from the gangs that have taken them over.

But they’re running into some opposition from the residents who say the city isn't doing enough to keep them safe. Angry Brighton Park residents also stopped their alderman as he walked through the neighborhood Monday.

“Calling these kids terrorists and thugs..You can’t do that!” said resident Mauro Pineda.

One woman, eventually led away by police, said one of the victims from a recent shooting was a relative and she’s outraged by the alderman’s strong words about gang violence.

“You know what it’s like to have to explain to a seven-year-old son that people are getting killed in front of our house? I live down the street.” said Brighton Park resident Mauro Pineda.

“How can a six, seven year old see a dead body? It’s not natural.. I agree with you,“ said Glen Brooks of the CPD.

At the same spot the day before, a group had gathered to remember a friend gunned-down hours earlier, when more shots were fired. 10 people were hit, two of them killed when a pair of gunmen armed with rifles stepped from an alley and opened fire.

“To all the residents of Brighton Park, please know that we feel your pain," said Cook County Commissioner Chuy Garcia.

Elected officials step up to ease that pain, but some residents said they're offended by remarks they consider insensitive. A street gang also made threats against Alderman Raymond Lopez, and they’re being taken seriously. He’s under police protection. A marked squad car was posted outside his nearby ward office.

Asked about those threats, the alderman is deliberately vague.

“The singular event that has been referenced toward me today pales in comparison to what my residents deal with daily," Lopez said.