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Parking Bans Instituted In Boystown To Curb Crime

CHICAGO (CBS) -- In the wake of a rash of safety concerns on the sizzling Boystown strip of North Halsted Street, Ald. Tom Tunney has instituted late-night parking bans during the weekend.

The ban began as a pilot program this past Friday, on Halsted Street between Belmont Avenue north to Buckingham Place, and on the short block of Belmont Avenue extending from Halsted Street west to Clark Street.

The ban is now in force on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights – or technically, Saturday, Sunday and Monday mornings, from midnight to 5 a.m.

Tunney's office announced the plan on this past Thursday, in response to concerns about illegally activity taking place in cars parked on Halsted Street. Public drinking, drug use and excessive noise have been reported in vehicles and on the sidewalk during the summer months.

"The neighbors presented a signed petition to our office requesting a parking ban be put in place to help curb illegal behavior and to provide better sight lines to the sidewalks for our police," Tunney wrote.

Disorderly behavior, fights and violence along the Boystown strip have made headlines this summer, particularly when a brawl in which a young man was stabbed and severely wounded was captured on videotape.

Around 11:55 p.m. on July 3, Rubin Robinson, 25, was walking with two friends on Halsted when someone in a nearby group made an obscene comment. Robinson responded and found himself surrounded by 15 people.

"Once I broke away from the crowd, I remember being hit in my ear," Robinson said in July. "That knocked me off balance. That's how I fell into the wall. When I got up, I realized I was stabbed."

He showed his stapled stab wounds to CBS 2's Suzanne Le Mignot, including lacerations on his chest and a puncture to his shoulder. A wound on his back was perilously close to his spine.

The video showed him running across the street collapsing against the wall of the Sherwin-Williams paint store at 3311 N. Halsted St. He was taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, and was in good condition following the stabbing, police said at the time.

The video soon went viral on the Internet, prompting concerns about safety in the city's most popular gay nightlife district.

Meanwhile, the attack and other incidents in the neighborhood – including a stabbing last month in front of the 7-11 at Halsted and Roscoe streets – led to the creation of a Facebook group, called "Take Back Boystown." That group also threw out suggestions for how to combat crime in the neighborhood, including asking dog owners to use their daily strolling time to keep an eye on things, carry their cell phones and report any suspicious activity.

But the group also called for more draconian and likely unrealistic solutions, such as shutting down the Center on Halsted, which draws GLBT youth from across the city and which some participants blame for the fact that teens who cause trouble have come to the area. Others suggested restricting the entire Boystown strip – including the sidewalks of Halsted Street – to those of legal drinking age.

A suspect, Darren Hayes, 24, of Hammond, was charged a few days after the July 3 attack with aggravated battery and mob action.

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