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Clean Streets

Controlling Crime, Maintaining Order, and Building Community Activism

Patrick Carr

Publication Year: 2005

With the close proximity of gangs and the easy access to drugs, keeping urban neighborhoods safe from crime has long been a central concern for residents. In Clean Streets, Patrick Carr draws on five years of research in a white, working-class community on Chicago’s South side to see how they tried to keep their streets safe. Carr details the singular event for this community and the resulting rise of community activism: the shootings of two local teenage girls outside of an elementary school by area gang members. As in many communities struck by similar violence, the shootings led to profound changes in the community's relationship to crime prevention. Notably, their civic activism has proved successful and, years after the shooting, community involvement remains strong.

Carr mines this story of an awakened neighborhood for unique insights, contributing a new perspective to the national debate on community policing, civic activism, and the nature of social control. Clean Streets offers an important story of one community's struggle to confront crime and to keep their homes safe. Their actions can be seen as a model for how other communities can face up to similarly difficult problems.

Published by: NYU Press


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TItle Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. ix-xii

Bringing this manuscript to the brink of publication has been a marathon of sorts, and over the course of this metaphorical run, I have had the assistance of a great number of people. I used to think that I would eschew the formality of thanking people by name and be truly iconoclastic in the matter of acknowledgments. I fear however, that my debts are too large to warrant such a posture, and so I return to the comfort of the traditional...

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pp. 1-16

Tuesday, August 3, 1999, was a typical hot August evening in Chicago. The air was heavy with the heat and humidity of the day, and in the Beltway neighborhood, many residents went about their business as usual. Some mowed, watered, or preened their precious patches of lawn, while others lolled about their porches listening to the White Sox game on the radio; children played in the side streets and parks, while some dog owners...

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Welcome to Beltway

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pp. 17-30

As you drive west through the neighborhoods that make up the city of Chicago, along the bustling thoroughfares that traverse the city north and south of the central Loop area, you cannot but be struck by the sheer variety of the areas you pass through. Some neighborhoods are so-called ghetto areas marked by scarred landscapes, where decades of blight have ravaged once-proud settlements. Buildings are in disrepair, businesses are...

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Getting Things Done: Civic Engagement in Action

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pp. 31-54

This chapter attempts to set the scene for a larger discussion of informal social control by surveying the community activism landscape in Beltway. Informal social control cannot take place without community engagement, and it is worthwhile to assess the community health of Beltway in the early 1990s. For the most part, as I illustrate, Beltway at the time was...

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Looks Like Trouble: Early Signs of Gangs and Violence

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pp. 55-82

On Thursday, April 14, 1994, John Thompson, a nineteen-year-old Beltway resident, was walking in the area beside Rendell Park, in the eastern part of the neighborhood, when a car containing four men drove by. One of the men in the car jumped out, yelled gang slogans, and opened fire, allegedly taking five shots at Thompson. One of the bullets struck Thompson...

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Gang Violence Can Happen Here: The Hastings Murders and Their Aftermath

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pp. 83-112

Thursday, December 14, 1995, was a typical day in Beltway. The weather was warm enough for that time of year that a few residents who were around during the day took the opportunity to festoon their houses with ever more elaborate holiday decorations. The sun set early, and while the cool of the evening was not the biting cold that can sweep over the plains...

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Coming Together: Problem Solving and the Neighborhood Watch

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pp. 113-144

It is just after 10:30 P.M. on a bitterly cold February night in 1997, and I have been riding shotgun in Jane Pratt’s immaculately clean white Buick Regal. We have been out patrolling for the neighborhood watch group for the past two and a half hours, and we decide to take a short break at the 7-Eleven on the corner of Third and Ridge Avenues. I stow the logbook...

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Conclusion: Civic Activism and the New Parochialism

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pp. 145-160

What is the relevance of the Beltway story to what we know about the control of crime and disorder in American society? Certainly, taken in isolation, it is a cautionary tale about a neighborhood where youth gangs had quietly taken root in a seemingly unlikely place. The events that culminated in the deaths of Melissa Harvey and Teresa Powell illustrate how...

Appendix: Getting In and Out of Beltway

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pp. 161-166


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pp. 167-192


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pp. 193-200


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pp. 201-208

About the Author

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pp. 209-210

E-ISBN-13: 9780814790038
E-ISBN-10: 0814790038
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814716632
Print-ISBN-10: 0814716636

Page Count: 222
Publication Year: 2005

OCLC Number: 320322271
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Clean Streets

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Beltway (Chicago, Ill.) -- Social conditions.
  • Crime prevention -- Illinois -- Chicago -- Citizen participation.
  • Gang prevention -- Illinois -- Chicago -- Citizen participation.
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