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Ald. Austin: I want Nation of Islam to patrol my ward, too

Ald. Carrie Aust(34th) FILE PHOTO| Jean Lachat~Sun-Times

Ald. Carrie Austin (34th) FILE PHOTO| Jean Lachat~Sun-Times

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Updated: August 26, 2012 6:18AM

Far South Side Ald. Carrie Austin (34th) appealed to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan on Tuesday to make Roseland and West Pullman the next target for his anti-violence initiative.

Austin questioned why the 80-year-old Farrakhan and his army of men, known as the Fruit of Islam, had taken their appeal to the streets of South Shore before showing up in Area 2, which includes the West Pullman and Roseland areas besieged by gang violence.

“My ward was national news when Derrion Albert got killed,” Austin said, referring to the videotaped beating of a 16-year-old student outside Fenger High School in September, 2009. “ ... Very, very few people come to even help. And those that do come to help, it’s for the publicity.”

She continued, “Every other day, I’ve got a shooting. I wish Farrakhan had stepped in five months ago.”

Asked whether she believes Farrakhan is in it for the publicity, Austin said, “Maybe in years past, yes. But, I don’t think that’s his focus these days. I think his focus is, we’re losing all of our young men. It’s not about him being in the paper or on the news. It’s about, ‘I can’t do much, but here’s what I can do.’”

For the last two Mondays, black men in dress suits and bow ties fanned out across violence-plagued Chicago neighborhoods — first in Auburn-Gresham, then South Shore — to form a human wall of protection against any sudden outbreak of gunfire. They passed out copies of the Nation of Islam’s newspaper and DVDs titled, “Justifiable Homicide: Black Youth in Peril.”

The army of men were led by Farrakhan, who ordered the show of force in response to last month’s brutal murder of seven-year-old Heaven Sutton.

Austin said they projected a positive message.

“When I see Farrakhan, it reminds me of the movie, ‘Malcolm X’ because those gentlemen are well-dressed, learned men and they are disciplined. That’s something our kids can take notice of…,” she said. “Our young men don’t think they’ll live past 21 and those that are 21 are not in sight. That’s sad for them not to have the thought of a future. This can teach them there can be another life.”

The move by the Nation of Islam is all part of a campaign seeking to re-capture the positive self-awareness that followed the Million Man March in 1995. A similar effort is under way in more than 100 cities where the Nation of Islam has a mosque or study group.

Earlier this month, Austin demanded that Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy develop a “separate strategy” — possibly a strike-force just for Area 2 — after two girls, ages 12 and 13, were shot while walking home from a park before dark.

Nikia Turner and Tishona Polk were not the intended targets. A motorist speeding and swerving down the street while blaring loud music allegedly fired on a passing car and hit the girls instead.

“We’re at the National Guard level now,” Austin, chairman of the City Council’s Budget Committee, said on that day in utter frustration.

“It has gotten so out of hand, you’ve got to show what your strategy is to combat this because we’re at Defcon 3.”

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