Amid gun violence, West Side residents wary of summer in the park

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CHICAGO – Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants everyone to enjoy Chicago’s parks this summer, but some residents say they’re afraid to use them — especially Lafollette Park in the Austin neighborhood.

Amid much pomp and circumstance, Mayor Emanuel announced the fourth annual Night Out in the Parks program at Lafollette Park on the West Side. There will be 1,200 free events across the city during the summer, including five on the West Side.

Since the beginning of the year there have been 17 shootings, including four murders, within several blocks of Lafollette Park. One was on the corner of Hirsch and Laverne.

Mayor Emanuel says people will be safe at city events at Lafollette Park and across Chicago, but residents aren’t so sure.

A Chicago police spokesman said there will be additional park patrols across the city to ensure residents are safe.