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Free shoes! ‘Anti-bait trucks’ to hand out 6,000 pairs Sunday

An activist criticizes police after a so-called "bait truck" was used in a sting operation on the South Side. | Screenshot from YouTube video

Up to 6,000 pairs of shoes will be given away Sunday in Englewood from “anti-bait trucks” through an event organized after a sting to catch thieves in the neighborhood was widely criticized.

Rapper Vic Mensa’s SaveMoneySaveLife foundation organized the shoe drive after videos of “bait trucks,” which were reportedly filled with shoes in an attempt to entice would be criminals in the neighborhood, went viral.

The free shoes will be available from 4-7 p.m. this Sunday at the Englewood Community Center, 2050 W. 59th St. A post announcing the event featured a picture of a truck with words on the side reading: “Cop these shoes kids.”

Laundi Keepseagle, co-founder and executive director of Mensa’s foundation, confirmed there will be multiple “anti-bait trucks” at the event, which will feature shoes for everyone from toddlers to adults. Brands of gym shoes include Puma, Adidas, Nike and Converse, among others. Anyone who shows up will get a pair.

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She said multiple athletes and musicians — who asked to be anonymous — made large gifts to the drive, which brought in a total of 10,000 pairs, including donations from as far as Germany, China and Australia.

“It’s amazing. I spent the last half hour crying,” Keepseagle said. “It’s been overwhelming.”

She added: “It’s been so beautiful. I’m so excited for these kids to get shoes for the new [school] year.”

Sunday’s event will feature barbers and stylists to give free haircuts, as well as performances and food trucks. She said Mensa and Chance the Rapper will be there. Chance promoted the event on Instagram Wednesday:

“Vic’s nonprofit @savemoneysavelife collected literally THOUSANDS of shoes to GIVE AWAY in Englewood in response to that racist ass f—— Bait Truck CPD put out in the street to lure IMPOVERISHED & UNDERPRIVILEGED kids to steal from so they could ARREST AND CHARGE THEM,” Chance wrote. “It sickens me to think about it but we must do for our own. Bring your cousins and siblings and whatnot to come and receive a free pair of shoes and repost this to tell someone who may be in need.”

No children were arrested in the sting, organized by Norfolk Southern Railroad with an assist from Chicago police to combat thefts from nearby rail yards. Three men, ages 21, 36 and 59, were arrested for breaking into the trucks. Most of the charges were later dropped although one man still faces battery charges.

The foundation is looking into doing another event on the West Side and could possibly give away the rest of the shoes at shelters or community centers, Keepseagle said.

Keepseagle thanked all of those who promoted the drive, which included activists like Shaun King, among others.