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Ald. Cappleman: I was chased by woman with knife

Chicago Ald. James Cappleman (46th pictured July 2011)  |  Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

Chicago Ald. James Cappleman (46th, pictured in July 2011) | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

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Updated: October 1, 2012 5:09PM

It’s dangerous being a hands-on Chicago alderman who walks the streets of his ward and is not afraid to get his hands dirty. Rookie Ald. James Cappleman (46th) is living proof.

Two months after being shoved and pelted with bread crumbs by an Uptown woman known as the “Pigeon Lady,” Cappleman is pressing charges once again — this time against a woman he claims ran after him with a knife.

It happened at 6 p.m. last Friday at Broadway and Montrose. He said he was calling police after he saw the woman sitting on the sidewalk drinking a can of beer when she came after him. He said he didn’t see the knife, but he had no doubt his life was in danger.

“She reached into her blouse and was chasing me. . . . Two witnesses told me, ‘She has a knife. You’d better run’ — and I did,” he said. “What went through my mind was, ‘I don’t want to get stabbed and killed over some stupid thing like this, over someone drinking in the public way. That’s not the way I want to die.’ ”

He identified the woman as Shermain Miles, a career criminal with numerous aliases and a rap sheet with scores of arrests for drugs, retail theft, attempted robbery and public drinking. State prison records show that Miles spent three years behind bars for armed robbery and was returned to the streets of Uptown last year.

When she was arrested Friday, it was under the name of Charmane Boone. She was charged with aggravated assault and battery for allegedly pushing the alderman into the bushes, both misdemeanors punishable by up to one year in jail. The police report includes no mention of a knife. She’s due in court on Thursday.

“The community knows her. The police know her. Social services know her. Everyone knows her very well,” said Cappleman, 59. “The real story is not that she chased after me with a knife or no knife. . . . The real story is that we have someone in the community with 448 arrests who is terrorizing our community, and we can’t stop it. This has gone on for years and years with her. . . . My goal is that we do something so that she stops falling through the cracks. . . . My goal is to get this woman help so she is off the streets. I’m tired of this. The community is tired of this.”

Cappleman, is a social worker-turned-activist rookie alderman, who walks the streets of his transient, high-density ward, which has large pockets of poverty.

Two months ago, a 59-year-old Uptown woman was charged with battery for allegedly pushing him in a confrontation over feeding pigeons. Cappleman said he saw bread crumbs on the ground near Broadway and Wilson and began to sweep them up when the woman, known to area residents as the “Pigeon Lady,” shoved him hard enough to push him into the street, then and threw a handful of bread crumbs at him.

Cappleman said the area was littered with bread crumbs, and he was just trying to clean it up before it became a breeding ground for rats.

“I’m very hands on. I walk the streets. I don’t have a car. That’s the way I get to know the community. I see certain problems,” he said Wednesday. “I’m a social worker. I’ve been to Cabrini-Green where it was pretty tough. There were times I was concerned for my safety. This is not the first time. But, as I get older, I need to take more precautions to make sure I don’t get hurt. It’s not worth getting hurt over someone throwing bread or drinking on the public way.”

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