Chicago gang leaders held a press conference Thursday to insist that they should not be held accountable for the city’s violence, reports the Associated Press. Representatives of the Traveling Vice Lords, Four Corner Hustlers and other gangs bemoaned the message by police Superintendent Jody Weis at a “gang summit” — that if gangs don’t stop the killings, police will go after their leaders. “We will not be responsible for anyone’s actions but our own,” said Vice Lords gang member Jim Allen. He was wearing a baseball cap with the words, “Mess with the Best, Die like the Rest.”
Former gang member Reginald Berry Sr. said police would be better off if gang members were given job offers instead of threats of jail time. “The problem with them is they’re giving us an ultimatum — ‘quit!’ instead of alternatives,” he said. Members of gangs ought to be told, “Get off the corner selling these bags, and come to this construction site and pick up this brick.” Weis is facing mounting criticism from leaders across the city and state for holding the Aug. 17 meeting, even though several police departments across the country have relied on similar approaches for decades to help reduce crime.