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Through tears, woman pleads for help to find brother missing since July 20

Tamara Stanford (left) talks about her missing brother, 31-year-old Jeremy Stanford. Ald. Emma Mitts (37th) also attended the news conference, along with other elected officials. | Fran Spielman/Sun-Times

Tamara Stanford has been searching desperately for her 31-year-old brother since July 20.

That’s when Jeremy Stanford was last seen being knocked unconscious and driven away from an Austin gas station by a man with a crowbar who was refusing to repay the $60 he had borrowed from her brother.

Nobody has been willing to cooperate with Tamara Stanford or tell the family what they saw. That’s even though she claims there were plenty of witnesses — and even video from a gas station surveillance camera that disappeared the next day.

Jeremy Stanford | Chicago Police
Jeremy Stanford | Chicago Police

On Tuesday, Stanford took to the lectern at a news conference called by black elected officials to demand an influx of resources for violence-ravaged neighborhoods and plead for help to find her brother.

“We walk the street every day asking questions, posting fliers, hoping that someone will say something. But everyone has refused,” Tamara Stanford said, choking back tears.

“We’ve been told by multiple people that our brother was beaten unconscious and kidnapped. But no one is brave enough to say anything to the police department. The pain that we feel when his 10-year old son asks, ‘Did you find my daddy yet?’ is almost unbearable. He was the protector of our family. My father’s only son. He was to carry on our family name. And to watch our neighbors of 30 years say nothing only deepens that sorrow.”

Video by Fran Spielman | Tamara Stanford talks about her missing brother, 31-year-old Jeremy Stanford.

Every time violence spikes in Chicago — and again on Monday — Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson plead with witnesses to cooperate with police.

It’s a tall order, considering public trust between citizens and police in the African-American community was shattered by the police shooting of Laquan McDonald and by the police torture of African-American suspects long before that by now-convicted former Area 2 Commander Jon Burge and his midnight crew.

Tamara Stanford said her family is living proof of the “snitches get stitches” code of silence that has prevented her neighbors from telling police what they know about her brother’s disappearance.

“I’m asking the community to remember that, as human beings, we have a responsibility, a duty to help one another.

“I’m asking you if you’ve heard something, if you know anything, if you’ve seen something to say something. If you say nothing, you allow ill will and danger to take residence in your community and to threaten your life and your children and their children.”

Jeremy Stanford was last seen July 20 in the area of 79th Street and Colfax Avenue.

Chicago police described him as 6-feet tall and 195 pounds with brown eyes, black hair. He has multiple tattoos, including a diamond on the throat, Gemini twins on his abdomen and a tattoo on the left side of his neck that reads, “heavy hitter.”

He was wearing a black t-shirt and dark jeans, and carried a black hoodie.

Tamara Stanford said her brother “used to be” a gang member during his teen years, but cut those ties years ago. He works in a plastics factory in Bedford Park.

She said she was told her brother was attacked with a crowbar, knocked unconscious, thrown into a car and driven away while demanding that a man repay the $60 he borrowed.

But those same people who provided those details have refused to talk to police. And the surveillance tape that proves what happened was mysteriously “erased” the next day.

The family came up empty when it comes to persuading witnesses to cooperate with police — and they’ve been warned on a “troll page” set up on Facebook that they had “better stop asking questions” about her brother’s disappearance.

In fact, Tamara Stanford said when she was out canvassing the neighborhood around the gas station recently, she was asked, pointedly: “Why are you still here?”