Innocents Die In Cicero Gang Violence

Actor Mark Wahlberg appears onstage during MTV's "Total Request Live" at the MTV Times Square Studios Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2006, in New York. Wahlberg stars in the new film "Invincible" which hits theaters Aug. 25. AP

Amid the neat row-houses in this Chicago suburb, two lives were claimed this week by a gang war that has pitted concerned community activists against civil libertarians, reports CBS News Correspondent Jacqueline Adams.

Thirteen-year-olds Mark Lopez and Ruben Polido, both honors students, were shot to death Thursday as they sat on their front porch, even though they did not belong to any gang.

"My son was not involved in any type of gang activity," said Melinda Pulido, Ruben's mother. "He was only a 13-year-old boy—sweet, precious little boy."

"Why did it have to be my brother?" asked Jasmine Lopez, Mark's sister. "I wanted him to live a long life."

Police have charged two young men with murder.

19-year-old Juan Casillas, police say, saw one youngster on the porch wearing rival gang colors and mistook him for an enemy. Then, police say, he ordered 16-year-old Robert Haynie to take out his gun.

"Carillas yelled gang slogans and ordered Haney to open fire. His quote was 'Light them up,'" said Keith Fry, a spokesperson for the Cicero police.

Lopez and Pulido were hit in the back as they attempted to escape inside the house.

The two alleged assailants then fled on bicycles, police say.

Both youths are being charged as adults. Casillas is held on $3 million bail.

Gangs are an ongoing menace in Cicero, where community leaders have been stymied in their efforts to crack down.

Two controversial ordinances were challenged as unconstitutional last year: one barricading streets and evicting gang members from their homes and another impounding the cars of suspected gang members.

The law to evict gang members won won 95 percent of the vote in a city referendum, but drew the ire of civil libertarians.

"Some ordinances are unconstitutional, but this one is unconstitutional as hell," said Dan Polsby, Northwestern University law professor, of the law. "They would be declaring that a human being is contraband because of something they claim to be and then punishing them with exile."

The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois filed a class action lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the ordinance allowing police to seize cars of suspected gang members, arguing it was "unconstitutional because of its vague nature, as well as the unfettered power it grants to police."

The ACLU filed the suit on behalf of a woman whose car was impounded even though she was never charged with a crime.

The law allowed cops to seize cars of people suspected of being gang members if they drove through a "gang-free zone." But the entire town was declared a gang-free zone, according to the ACLU.

Those constitutional niceties, however, are lost on one grieving father. "Everybody loved him," said Ruben Pulido, Sr. "He never did anything bad. He's gone. He was my best friend. It's hard."



  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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