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Editorial: Mob attacks hurt city’s reputation

Chicago Police released these surveillance photos teens who allegedy beRed Line rider.

Chicago Police released these surveillance photos of teens who allegedy beat a Red Line rider.

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Updated: July 16, 2012 6:25AM

For the second June in a row, mobs of young people are attacking innocent people on Chicago’s downtown streets and on the CTA. We’ve seen this before, and it’s not something we can afford to see again.

Last year, police quickly put a stop to the attacks, using an array of effective tactics. They must do everything possible to repeat that success. The city’s reputation as a safe place to live, work, shop and be entertained is at risk.

In recent days, a mob of teens severely injured a 23-year-old man on the Red Line. In Streeterville, a doctor walking on Chicago Avenue was confronted by a group and punched in the face. On Sunday, a group of 10 to 20 young men and woman near the Museum of Contemporary Art attacked another doctor.

Also over the weekend, a man and seven teens were arrested after three people were beaten in the 500 block of North State Street. On the same evening, a group beat a man near the Red Line at State and Lake. And on Sunday evening, a man was beaten and robbed of his iPhone as he walked in the Gold Coast neighborhood.

The attacks put Mayor Rahm Emanuel and police on the spot. They need to reassure citizens they take the attacks seriously, but they don’t want to be alarmist.

It’s not as if police have unlimited resources to throw into this. Some of the city’s neighborhoods are engulfed in violence — 40 people were shot on a recent Friday-through-Sunday stretch.

As recently as Wednesday night through early Thursday, three people were killed and at least seven others wounded on the South and Southwest sides in various acts of violence. Police cannot let up on their efforts to bring those areas under control.

Although the attacks downtown have not been as brutal, they threaten the underpinning of the city’s economy. If people no longer feel safe as tourists or workers or CTA passengers, the city has a problem.

On safety issues, perception becomes a reality. And if downtown doesn’t work, no corner of the city will have the resources to work.

How bad is the perception?

Northwestern Memorial and Lurie Children’s Hospital security officials recently told their staffs to walk in groups; walk in well-lighted areas; walk in a direction away from large groups of individuals, and pay attention to their surroundings.

Citizens can help the city by reporting what they know about any attacks. Almost always, someone knows something.

Who, to begin with, are the young men in the CTA security camera photos taken after the Red Line attack?

Somebody knows.

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