CHICAGO — A container full of new shoes opened for kids in West Englewood Sunday, as thousands of pairs were given away during an “Anti-Bait Truck” event.
Rapper Vic Mensa’s SaveMoneySafeLife Foundation coordinated the giveaway in response to a series of viral videos and news stories about bait trucks being used by Norfolk Southern Railroad and police in West Englewood. Police said they left the trucks in areas near rail yards, usually with just a twist tie to keep them shut, as a way to catch people in the act of stealing. But they faced a viral backlash after residents objected to using such tactics in under-resourced communities.
In a statement, SaveMoneySafeLife said the policing action was an effort to, “lure and arrest impoverished and underprivileged men, women, and children that might stumble upon the truck and try to take them.”
Norfolk Southern eventually apologized, saying the operation “eroded trust between law enforcement and the community,” and it doesn’t plan to use this method in the future. The Cook County State’s Attorney dropped burglary charges filed against three people who broke into the trucks.
In response, Sunday’s event included multiple “anti-bait trucks” with gym shoes from brands including Puma, Adidas, Nike and Converse, for everyone from toddlers to adults. The foundation’s co-founder Laundi Keepseagle said donations for the event were made from as far as Germany, China and Australia by multiple athletes and musicians who asked to remain anonymous.