Hundreds gather at convention to revitalize block clubs

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CHICAGO – More than 400 people came out to Simeon High School on Saturday to revitalize an old Chicago neighborhood tradition.

Block clubs have been around for decades, with neighbors looking out for their neighborhoods in an effort to curb crime and increase social interaction.

Block Club Convention Coordinator Kweli Kweza helped organize workshops to learn how to identify human trafficking, prepare for disasters and help find work work for neighbors who need it.

There was also a call-to-action for the hundreds in attendance.

“We want block clubs to be more vigilant,” Kwaza said. “Get more involved in your community. Get to know your next door neighbor. Get to know their children and help them out.”

The hope is the convention will lead to neighbors reclaiming communities plagued by crime.

“It makes a difference when we have neighbors who stand up and say ‘not on my block,’” Mayor Lightfoot said.

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx also addressed the crowd, saying community cooperation is key to solving criminal cases and putting the perpetrators behind bars.

“We can’t bring these cases forward without the community coming forward,” Foxx said. “Without their help, we’re only half the battle.”

21st Ward Ald. Howard Brookins hopes for better relations with the police in his ward.

“When the police are called and they say ‘who called the police?’ Then the answer’s going to be everybody called the police,” Brookins said. “50 people on this block called the police.”

The free convention took place from 10 a.m. through 3 p.m. at Simeon High School in Chatham.

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