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A city refuse collection crew made a gruesome discovery Monday less than a block from away from a Safe Passage route in Englewood: a dead body stuffed in a garbage can.
Employees from the Department of Streets and Sanitation found the body of a man believed to be in his 30’s in an alley in the 700-block of West 61st Street, according to Chicago Police Department spokesman Adam Collins. It happened around 10 a.m. during the course of the crew’s normal rounds.
The condition of the body was not known, nor was the victim identified. Area South detectives are investigating.
“We believe the death took place some time overnight,” Collins said, noting that an autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday.
The body was located less than a block from the designated path for students attending Nicholson Technology Academy, 6006 S. Peoria. Nicholson is the so-called “welcoming” school for students displaced by the closing of Bontemps Elementary.
The discovery came on a day when a cast of thousands of city employees with a police helicopter hovering overhead lined the streets of Safe Passage routes to reassure children forced to make longer walks down unfamiliar streets to their new schools, sometimes crossing rival gang turf.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel was busy hopscotching from school to school. The mayor’s office had no immediate comment.
Last week, Emanuel called broad daylight shootings along a designated Safe Passage route in Uptown an “early warning sign to all of us” to be even “more on our toes” than they already were in preparation for Monday’s first day of Chicago Public Schools.
But, he argued that parents of students traveling further distances to their new schools after being displaced by nearly 50 school closings had no reason to fear for the safety of their children.
“Unlike what happened at 6 o’clock [p.m. in Uptown], at 8 o’clock in the morning [Monday], there are gonna be 600 workers fanned out for all Safe Passage [routes]—a person-per-corner, per-street on those routes,” the mayor said then.
“There will be police officers, workers from the Fire Department, Streets and Sanitation, Department of Transportation, Library, places of business…so, when kids are going to school and from school, there will be a presence that, in the early evening hours, was not there [in Uptown]…It’s the obligation of every adult to make sure a child is protected—whether you are a city employee or not. And we will work on it every day to make sure that happens.”
Emanuel said then that an “incredible amount of work” had been done to fix sidewalks along 48 Safe Passage routes. Trees have been trimmed. Broken lights have been replaced. Vacant lots have been cleared. Abandoned buildings have either been boarded up or torn down.
Firefighters and paramedics assigned to 11 different firehouses across the city will also have their trucks out on the street to help kids feel safe, he said.
“That doesn’t [negate the fact that] what happened [in Uptown] is an early-warning sign to all of us to be more on our toes that we were already on our toes,” the mayor said.
He added, “There is no greater responsibility for every adult, regardless of who you are, than the safety of our children. And every child is a Safe Haven child and my goal is that every street is a Safe Passage street for the city and its children and its families.”