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Chicago police play games, dance with kids in Humboldt Park

The “On the Block” event, organized by a neighborhood block club, brought police, the community and Mayor Lori Lightfoot together to foster a better relationship.

Two Chicago police officers help two young girls prepare tee-shirts to be tie-dyed at a On the Block community event in the 1000 block of North Monticello in the Humboldt Park neighborhood, Friday, Sept. 4, 2020. | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times
Two Chicago police officers help two young girls prepare tee-shirts to be tie-dyed at a On the Block community event in the 1000 block of North Monticello in the Humboldt Park neighborhood, Friday, Sept. 4, 2020. | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Neighborhood kids ran through the intersection of Thomas Street and Monticello Avenue playing games as police officers handed out drawstring bags filled with goodies in Humboldt Park Friday evening.

The “On the Block” event welcomed police officers from the Chicago Police Department’s 11th District. Officers carried babies, helped kids tie-dye shirts and danced in the middle of the street.

Lucy Diaz, 55, is a member of the 1000 North Monticello block club and has helped put together similar events throughout the summer. She said it was important to have police officers engaging with youth in the neighborhood to show them cops aren’t bad and give them a positive experience.

“Events like these allow people to get to know each other and build trust, and with the amount of violence happening in the city it is important to develop that trust,” Diaz said. “We can get to know our police officers on a personal basis, and they get to know who we are too.”

A block party on Monticello Avenue in Humboldt Park Friday, Sept. 4, 2020 featured Chicago police officers from the 11th District dancing and playing with neighborhood children.
A block party on Monticello Avenue in Humboldt Park Friday featured Chicago police officers from the 11th District dancing and playing with neighborhood children.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

District Cmdr. Darrell Spencer echoed how important the event is to improving police relations with the community.

“This is an opportunity for the police department to come together with the community and have a positive event,” Spencer said. “More so, it is an opportunity for kids to come out and play peacefully in a safe environment.”

Mayor Lori Lightfoot — who didn’t speak with reporters — walked the block, taking pictures and speaking with residents. Lightfoot played pickleball with neighborhood kids at in the intersection of Monticello Avenue and Thomas Street.

Annie Cassell sat in front of the building she has lived in since 1978, shouting to her sister to take a picture with the mayor.

“It is a blessing to see her on our block because I never thought I would see her in-person in my lifetime,” 67-year-old Cassell said. “It shows that she really cares about our neighborhood.”

Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks with residents at a block club event in Humboldt Park on Friday.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times
Mayor Lori Lightfoot walking around and greeting residents — in a pandemic-approved way — at a block party Friday, Sept. 4, 2020 in the 1000 block of North Monticello Avenue in Humboldt Park.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot walking around and greeting residents — in a pandemic-approved way — at a block party Friday in the 1000 block of North Monticello Avenue in Humboldt Park.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times
Mayor Lori Lightfoot plays pickleball, at an On the Block community event in the 1000 block of North Monticello Avenue in the Humboldt Park neighborhood on Friday, Sept. 4, 2020.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot joins in a game of pickleball Friday at an On the Block community event in the 1000 block of North Monticello Avenue in Humboldt Park.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times
Mayor Lori Lightfoot poses for a photo at an On the Block community event in the 1000 block of North Monticello Avenue in the Humboldt Park neighborhood, Friday, Sept. 4, 2020.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot, left, poses for a photo at block party in Humboldt Park Friday.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times