Austin Town Hall was steamy Monday night but not just because of the heat as residents grilled 29th Ward Ald. Deborah Graham and Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis during a public forum.
Seats in the first-floor auditorium were filled near capacity for the town hall. Also present were other police officials, including former Austin 15th District commander Eugene Williams. Audience members included community leaders and residents. The forum lasted a little over two hours.
Some residents had tough questions for Graham and police. An Austin mother said she’s seen police threaten Austin youth and claimed that that involved trying to place illegal drugs on them in exchange for information. When asked by Williams, the woman, however, never filed a complaint with the city’s Independent Police Review Authority -created in 2007 – which handles police misconduct complaints. The woman said she feared retaliation if she did so.
Graham, a former state rep who was appointed 29th Ward alderman in March, encouraged residents to call her office with complaints about police misconduct.
Central Green Line death
Meanwhile, as the forum was going on inside the non-air conditioned Austin Town Hall, 5610 W. Lake St., Chicago police, fire trucks and paramedics swarmed the area just south of the building along Central. Just before the start of the forum, scheduled for 6:30 p.m., a white male in his 50s was killed at the Central and Lake Green Line after jumping in front of a train. This was the second such incident in the last four years at the station involving someone killed while jumping onto the tracks. (See related story on page 1.)