One Chicago alderman is blasting Metra for the way it has handled a rash of attacks at two South Side train stations. Since November, four women have been attacked near Metra commuter rail stations, with the latest one occurring Feb. 4 at the 75th Street
One Chicago alderman is blasting Metra for the way it has handled a rash of attacks at two South Side train stations.
Since November, four women have been attacked near Metra commuter rail stations, with the latest one occurring Feb. 4 at the 75th Street and South Chicago Avenue/Grand Crossing station, in Hairston’s ward. The other three attacks occurred at the 63rd Street and Dorchester Avenue station, according to Michael Gillis, a spokesman for Metra. Both are stops on the Metra Electric Line.
“If these were white women getting snatched off the street in Wicker Park (on the North Side), the police would have a suspect in custody,” said Alderwoman Leslie Hairston (5th). “I have complained to Metra for years about the poor lighting and uncleanness of their stations on the South Side.”
Hairston said Metra stations in the suburbs are clean and monitored by cameras, and some even have Metra police patrolling them.
While the attacks did not involve Metra patrons and the victims were said to be brought from the street to the train platform in their assaults, Hairston attributes some blame to Metra.
“It’s sad how Metra treats the African American community. Their treatment definitely falls within racial lines,” she said. “It seems to me that Metra has no interest in doing anything.”
So rather than keep complaining to Metra officials, Hairston said she plans to meet with state and federal legislators who control the commuter rail line’s funding.
“Sometimes the only time agencies listen is when their funding is threatened,” she said. “If there were vendors and cameras located at the train stations in Chicago like the suburbs that could deter violent acts.”
Gillis said Metra is concerned about its riders and has beefed up security at their stations. But he admits that the two stations where the attacks occurred lack cameras, and he did not know if cameras would be installed or if Metra police would be stationed at the locations, in light of the attacks.
“These attacks, while unfortunate, did not take place on our platforms or in our stations so it is a Chicago police matter. It has nothing to do with us,” Gillis said.
The Chicago police are investigating the attacks, but so far they have no suspects in custody.
South Side Metra riders who board the trains at the stations where the attacks occurred said they are concerned about their safety and have not received any information from Metra about the assaults. One victim was reportedly raped.
“I heard on the news that a woman was thrown from the platform by her attacker. I didn’t even know about the other three attacks until the fourth one occurred,” said Mellody Thomas, 46. “Metra should have posted alerts on the train about these attacks.”
Copyright 2009 Chicago Defender. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.