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Rogers Park top cop warns of crime spurred by 'netbangers'

February 21, 2014|By Rachel Cromidas, @rachelcromidas | RedEye

Chicago police officers are looking into how Internet gang activity, or “netbanging,” may be contributing to local crime, Rogers Park’s district commander Thomas Waldera said at a Thursday beat meeting.


“This is the new thing, citywide,” he told a room of Rogers Park residents and police officers at an evening community policing meeting at the district police station. “They get on YouTube,  they friend each other, and they go back and forth, like it’s electronic graffiti, they just taunt each other.”


Waldera said “netbangers’” YouTube videos might have motivated the shooting that took the life of a 17-year-old boy and wounded three other teenagers near a Rogers Park McDonald's the afternoon of Feb. 6. Waldera said officers are still investigating the shooting.

“We think they were after this one guy for producing and starring in these YouTube videos that taunt each gang,” he said. “But he has done it to so many gangs, that we can’t narrow it down to which one we think did it, so we’re still out there looking for intel.”

Waldera would not provide any more information about the YouTube videos he mentioned or the person who may be creating them. Rogers Park has seen criminal activity from several gangs over the years, and police officials at the meeting said the main gang conflicts are between two Black Gangster Disciple factions. They also said the district has seen an uptick in Latin Kings graffiti.

Waldera said Internet gang activity also motivated police officers to call for the removal of the memorial to Markeyo Carr the teen who was shot to death, because gang members were posting photos of the memorial on Facebook, “almost as a trophy,” he said.

“They’re pretty cold,” Waldera said of the comments on social media. “I can see where it elicits a pretty violent reaction, so it’s something that we’re trying to deal with.”

The McDonald’s shooting was the second high-profile shooting reported in the Rogers Park District this year. On Jan. 26 a 15-year-old boy was shot and wounded in the 1400 block of West Pratt Boulevard near a 7-11 store. Waldera said officials believe the shootings were unrelated.

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