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Vic Mensa to give away shoes from ‘anti-bait truck’ at site of sting

Vic Mensa

Vic Mensa | ROBIN MARCHANT/GETTY IMAGES

A foundation associated with rapper Vic Mensa plans to distribute tennis shoes to kids near the site where authorities conducted a sting by parking a “bait truck” full of shoes in hopes of catching would-be rail thieves.

The bait truck attracted condemnation from the ACLU and local politicians when videos showing the operation in action went viral.

“We wanted to do something in response, but have a positive response,” Laundi Keepseagle, the executive director of Vic Mensa’s SaveMoneySaveLife foundation, said Thursday. “We don’t want to create conflict with the police, but we do want to take a step forward, and just showcase that acts like that aren’t acceptable in communities that we care for.”

Keepseagle said the foundation plans to station an “anti-bait truck” where shoes will be given away, along with food trucks, as part of a back-to-school event. The date of the event will be released after the foundation receives the shoes, Keepseagle said.

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The foundation reached out to shoe companies, athletes and other high-profile figures in hopes they could donate shoes or help promote the campaign, Keepseagle said.

The foundation hopes to gather at least 5,000 shoes.

Activist Shaun King promoted the drive on Twitter Thursday, asking people to order shoes for the anti-bait truck through Amazon.

“Last week the Chicago Police set up a bait trap by putting a truck full of tennis shoes in the hood then arresting any kids who took a pair. So – let’s buy THOUSANDS of shoes for every kid in Chicago who needs a pair,” King wrote on Twitter.

As of Friday afternoon, King said 3,000 pairs had been donated.

No children were arrested in the sting after Norfolk Southern Rail police department positioned two sealed and apparently abandoned trucks in Englewood last month. A Norfolk Southern spokesperson said last week that “Operation Trailer Trap,” which was conducted with the help of Chicago police officers, was conducted in response to thefts from a nearby rail yard.

A pair of viral videos pushed the operation into public view. One, taken by activist Charles Mckenzie, shows a group of men confronting police officers next to the bait truck.

Three men, ages 21, 36 and 59, were arrested for breaking into the trucks and removing merchandise.

Burglary charges against all three men were dropped by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx “in the interest of justice,” according to office spokesman Robert Foley. Norfolk Southern released a statement last week expressing regret for the operation, and committing not to use similar tactics in the future.

The 56-year-old man still faces charges of simple battery. Officers accuse him of refusing to drop a collapsible knife after they confronted him.

Another one of the arrested men, who was deaf, told police in sign language he had entered the truck to look for food, according to a police report.