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Rise In Violent Crime, Open-Air Drug Dealing Have Business Operators In Fear In West Garfield Park

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Shootings, blatant drug dealing, and a rise in violent crimes has the head of the Garfield Park Chamber of Commerce sounding the alarm about the future of the businesses in the West Garfield Park neighborhood.

As CBS 2's Charlie De Mar reported Tuesday night, she is also calling on the city and police to do more.

Some business owners in West Garfield Park said they are struggling to stay open and dealing with three factors - COVID-19, the looting that happened earlier during the summer, and a double-digit percentage spike in violent crime this year.

Drug deals are done right at the car window, and money exchanges hands over and over. Business on the street is thriving on Madison Street near Pulaski Road in West Garfield Park.

"They pretty much, they're not afraid of the police," said Garfield Park Chamber of Commerce chief executive officer Siri Hibbler.

And they weren't afraid of our cameras Tuesday afternoon as we saw the footrace for customers at one open-air market.

"Pull up there now in your car, and somebody will be probably be trying to hand you some drugs," Hibbler said. "Coming up there is kind of like coming into a war zone."

And while cash is flowing for the product, Hibbler is concerned about the brick-and-mortar stores that line the street.

"Our businesses are really starting to be more and more afraid in our community on Madison Street," Hibbler said. "What we're saying is protect our streets."

Hibbler is speaking for business owners on Madison Street who are hurting from COVID-19 and the hit they took from looters during the summer.

She is calling for more city and police resources to address the 15 percent spike in violent crime this year compared to last from June through September in West Garfield.

"They're feeling very uneasy, and we don't want them to leave," Hibbler said. "They totally feel like they've been ignored. They have been feeling like that for a long time."

Hibbler was speaking on behalf of some of those businesses owners because they were too afraid to talk with us or have our cameras seen inside their shops.


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