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Ministers take over Englewood home after family flees from gang

Phylis Robinsformer tenant watches as Pastor James Dukes LiberatiChristian Center talks about moving inan Englewood home after Ms Robinsmoved out

Phylis Robinson, the former tenant, watches as Pastor James Dukes of the Liberation Christian Center talks about moving into an Englewood home after Ms Robinson moved out due to intimidation from drug dealers. 2041 W. 68th Place. Monday, April 15, 2013 | Brian Jackson~Sun Times

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Updated: May 17, 2013 6:42AM

Three days after moving into a house in the 2000 block of West 68th Place in Englewood, a couple was forced to flee after getting into a confrontation with gang members.

Phyllis Robinson alleged her family ran afoul of gang members when they put a lock on a gate leading to a pathway where young men were selling drugs.

“I was in this house three days before they jumped on me,” Robinson said standing on the front porch of the now vacant house.

“They were mad because I locked my gangway gate. They usually walk through here and run through here from the police and sell their drugs. They got mad because I put the lock on there.”

A coalition comprised of Englewood ministers will take turns living in the house to bring attention to the plight of residents who are being terrorized by gangs.

“They basically got run out of their house,” said Bishop James Dukes of Liberation Christian Center, who held a news conference outside of the home on Tuesday.

Dukes has vowed to hold prayer vigils at 6 every night and work to bring resources that include youth programs and job training to the block in response to the violence.

“The community has been in an uproar. Something needs to be done. It is a consistent state of violence and urban terrorism in our communities,” he said.

Robinson, 38, her husband, Sean, 43, and their two children moved from the south suburbs into the frame single-family house on March 31. The family rented the house because they wanted to be next door to Sean’s mother after his father had a massive stroke.

When Robinson left the gate open while her husband brought a refrigerator through a side entrance, someone in a group that was loitering outside the gate removed the lock and chain.

Robinson said when she confronted the young men about the missing lock and chain, one of them “cussed” her out and threatened her. When another young man punched her niece, the two women fought back.

“I guess we were getting the best of them, because the ones that were sitting on the porch across the street went on the side of this vacant lot,” she said pointing across the street, “and started getting bricks and bottles and 2-by-4s and started throwing them at us.”

When her husband tried to stop the mob from breaking the windows of his mother’s car, he also was attacked.

By the time the melee was over, the husband had suffered a skull fracture and required seven staples to close a wound. Robinson said it took four staples to close a gash on her head.

But it didn’t end there.

Two days later, the gang members allegedly set fire to Robinson’s sister’s house across the street.

That house is now boarded up.

“Everybody on the block was saying the [gang members] wanted my house to stay empty because they wanted to do what they wanted to do with it,” Robinson said.

“So I think that is why they really got mad when I moved in. I guess I was fuel to the fire because I was standing up to them and wasn’t going to let them just take over my gangway or any piece of my property.”

But not everyone on the block thinks Robinson’s response was appropriate.

A young woman whose grandmother lives in the house next to Robinson’s mother-in-law described the altercation as a “fight over a lock.”

“All this could have been prevented if she had called the police,” said Latrice Pierce, 32, adding that her grandmother has lived in her house for 40 years.

“There are gangs everywhere in the neighborhood.

“You haven’t lived on this block. You don’t antagonize these young guys because they just retaliate,” she said.

However, she acknowledged that the spotlight Robinson has brought to the area may help.

“I love that the police have been on every corner. Now our kids can come out and play. If we can get the police to ride through the block every day, a lot of this can be prevented,” she said.

The Robinsons have moved back to the south suburbs.

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