Why does the River divide us?

So as I looked deeper into issues that we face in our community it is clear that the divide starts with the River.

I have had the pleasure of meeting great people in our community and the continued question seems to be the feeling that as a community the River is the divide that lies between us.  Some say that if you cross the River you will enter into unknown territory that many seem to fear.  Others say its not the truth and that we can feel comfortable living in any part, on either side.

Is it true that the river has create a divide in black & white?  Could this be true?  Quite honestly I have been accepted no matter where I have gone.

In my last blog post I felt there were many references to crime and moral values in our community (and it seems we are associating some of these references with color).  How can this be?

What I see is people…people who are warm, welcoming, inviting and certainly excited about the opportunities to bridge people together?  Is this an old problem that some of us are still hanging on too?  Could it be that we have let time pass by and given into fear of the bridge that so many have refused to cross.

Help me understand why in 2012 we are still facing issues with race in Rockford.



  1. It has nothing to do with the dang river, or black and white, however, you don’t want to walk on the west Side of he river at night in most areas. the east side is getting the same way, it has more to do with the failure of crime prevention and capture of criminals and the element that exists in Rockford that has no ethics or morals.

  2. Well, I only have my own theories to offer, but since you ask….

    In this day and age, people have come to believe that they don’t have to take responsibility for their own actions. Research the Barmore shooting of a few years ago. In the wake of that incident, some people, black and a few whites, immediately blamed the police even before the investigation was complete. Two fine officers had their careers ruined.

    Me? I will never forget a quote in the paper attributed to Mr. Barmore’s sperm donor. He stated that he always taught his son to run into a church if the Police were chasing him, which is exactly what happened. Would you teach your child such idiotic toughts? I taught my children to stop for the police, not run from them.

    Anyway, a few people succeeded in once again dividing this community into very angry factions. This happens often in Rockford.

  3. I live near Broadway and 11th street. Have off and on since my family moved to this area in 1984. I could write a book about the “great divide” and the river? The river is the OLD divide. Now it is closing in on Alpine. I have seen my neighborhood go from decent in ’84 full of young families and seniors, to mostly low income. It has nothing to do with color of skin, country of origin. It has to do with parenting. And WOW are there tons of lazy parents out there! I am low income, worked every day of my life since I was 14, and sometimes 2 jobs to support my family. (brief jobless stint about 7 years ago lasted a few months). Until April last year I had been working in DeKalb 10-12 hour shifts, 2 hours travel time. STILL low income. My daughter from 16-18 fell off the wagon. Kids showing up at my house at 3am… NO RESPECT. WHERE were their parents? WHY where they out at 3 am on a school night? My daughter fell into the ways of these kids and thought me a terrible mother for not letting her do the same as these other kids… Out drinking, getting high, walking the streets all hours, stealing things… Not my daughter! I quit working in part due to health/finances/travel, but she was the deciding factor. I will not allow my child to misbehave. Race plays no part in this… It is the poor behavior and lack of respect from the youth, and the lazy parenting of the parent. I QUIT my already didn’t have enough to pay the bills job, to PARENT my child. We have become to snooty as a society. Selfish, and to quick to belittle others. And then again, the children have it too easy. There is no spanking allowed without fear of a DCFS investigation. lol Kids have the upper hand. My daughter was GREAT until she started hanging out with kids whose parents didn’t care what they did or where they were… And that was the majority of kids in our little neck of the woods. Say what you will about me for having a job and quitting. I do what I have to do to protect my kids. It is about raising them right. Not about buying name brands.

  4. P.S. I forgot to mention that the Police Chief and the Mayor, in an effort to appease a few outspoken “Ministers”, conducted a witch hunt against the two officers.

    I, and many others, lost all respect for the Mayor and the Police Chief. There is absolutely nothing these people can or could ever do to repair that in my mind. So I guess I’m part of the problem because I will never forgive nor forget their heinous actions against two good men.

  5. JGordon

    This is a good article, and I am impressed with your hopes for the Rockford area. I agree with another poster here who stated that poor crime deterrence/prevention (ineffective policing) coupled with soft sentencing and a rotating door of dangerous felons being placed back onto the streets from the “Justice Center” are Rockford’s #1 and #2 problems, respectively.

    911 police emergency response time is terrible in Rockford, and if a report is required about an incident, don’t expect much follow up.

    Terrible parenting has always existed, and I’m sad to say none of us should expect any real improvement in that area. As a matter of fact, Generation X and Y parents are among the worst I’ve ever seen as they raise Generation “?”.

    There seems to be a true sense of entitlement that the Rockford area has, not specified to any race mind you, but as a whole. People don’t appreciate receiving what it is that they feel that they deserve. So, appreciation for any opportunity in this community is all but seemingly lost in this attitude of entitlement. Look at the recent re-enforcement of 8 hours of community service for all able-bodied and capable Rockford Housing Authority residents. This has resulted in the issuance of eviction notices for those who still won’t adhere to this requirement, and those who still won’t make up their arrears in this required community service. This will be a point of combative argument from the Rockford Housing Authority residents from this day forward, I guarantee it. Over 8 hours of required volunteer/community service a month. That’s 2 hours a week. I don’t think that 8 hours a month is asking much at all. If anything, Rockford should be asking for 3-4 times that much community service per month from those who are capable and able receiving Rockford Housing Authority benefits.

    Most Rockford residents spend 8 hours a month just picking up trash out of their yard, calling in graffiti, and sweeping up broken glass in the street a month.

    The terrifically high unemployment, high foreclosure rate, in flux of low-paying retail jobs that don’t pay enough to make ends meet for most, and attitude of entitlement has turned this community into a welfare-supported economy, sadly. Go and observe Wal-Mart or Woodman’s between the 1st and 7th of any given month. As well, look at the purchases being made with those state-issue cards. You know them when you see them.
    Taking a little bit of time to observe this will show you just how much appreciation that folks have for that program, which was supposed to have been a safety net, but has become a lifetime benefit for too many in Rockford.

    There’s a reason that so many have left Rockford, and continue to leave. I’m not saying that there aren’t good people in Rockford. There are. But they have proven to only be able to watch their city deteriorate for so long before deciding to move to safer communities.

    I applaud your optimism and community spirit, but my guess is that within a few years you’ll have done such a good job here that you’ll be offered a better position within the “Y” in a much nicer area and enthusiastically take that opportunity. Rockford won’t be able to blame you, and all will wish you and your family the best.

  6. Thomas Butler

    “Failure of crime prevention”, “capture of criminals”,”slow 911 response”, “revolving door at the jail”; don’t be naive. These issues are not the cause of the city’s woes.

    The dividing line now in this city is 20th street. Unmaintained properties are rampant west of 20th street. It divides the level of income and flight of the more affluent; black and white. How many grocery stores are west of 20th street? None. Yet 2/5s of the city’s population lives west of 20th street.

    The root cause of decrepitness in Rockford is the failure of Rockford’s education system on the whole (just look at the test scores). The way to get rid or crime is to educate the population. Not throw people in jail. People who have an education and oportunities don’t commit crime.

  7. The river is just part of Rockford’s geography- there are so many other things that divide us. I have no easy answers but think the whole hue and cry about a proposed Dollar Tree on the west side is representative of part of our problem as a city.

    Arrogant, pretentious people deem a Dollar Tree as not classy enough and yet the dearth of retail on the west side is so glaring that I would think any retail would be welcome. I’m sure a Dollar Tree over here on the “east side” would not be protested against as vigorously. Why is that?

    Why are streets on the west side in such horrible shape (ex. many neighborhoods near RMH) and yet Pepper Dr. (yes I used to live near there) got resurfaced regularly and unnecessarily. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to see what side of the river gets more money. Why is that?

    Someone blamed the police and the failure of crime prevention? Pretty short sighted right? I read almost everyday or see on the news about someone getting arrested for a certain robbery or string of robberies? The limited number of police we have are doing the best that they can under extremely terrible conditions. To all those who would blame the police…so you’re not going to pick up the phone and call 911 if your house is being broken into and expect the police to show up? Of course you are and out of the other side of your mouth you’re going to blame them for our crime problems? But not the criminal or the parents of the criminal? Personal responsibility is very underrated and underutilized in this day and age.

    It’s way more complicated than this but some kids are now learning that life is only about things and money. When that’s all they care about doing whatever it takes to get those things (lying, cheating, stealing, killing) is going to take priority over being invested and having pride in their hometown.

  8. @Rachel: If approved, Dollar Tree would be part of $2.5 million, 15,000-square-foot shopping center at Third and Jefferson streets. (http://www.rrstar.com/news/x1785611284/Dollar-Tree-proposal-clears-Rockford-City-Council-panel) That’s on the east side of the Rock River.

    Anna Derocher, assistant managing editor, rrstar.com

  9. Thanks for the correction about the Dollar Tree…it still speaks to the have/have not mentality…”not classy” enough is a statement against the Dollar Tree made by someone that “has” – Guess I didn’t get my opinion across well enough. East/West? does it matter? it still doesn’t make sense that there is opposition to economic development and if it was over off of Perryville would there be any opposition? just asking

  10. JGordon

    This statement is not true:”People who have an education and oportunities (should be spelled opportunities) don’t commit crime.”

    There are plenty of educated criminals, and plenty of uneducated law-abiding citizens.

    Education is a powerful tool in working one’s way into success, yes, but there are plenty of educated criminals out there. People choose not to accept the opportunity for an education, and an education can be gotten anywhere and in any school district with hard work.

    Also, there are plenty of areas east of 20th Street and Alpine, even, which have been changing, and not all for the better unfortunately. I really don’t think that any area is immune to the troubles being experienced between Rockford, IL and Stoughton, WI, to be honest.

    Yes, the Rockford school district is broken, but Rockford has taken steps to put that district back on track. Plenty of students graduate from District 205, and go on to graduate from college (to include “Ivy-League” schools) and further successes. Those who can not afford college out of high school, and have chosen to do the work to graduate, have the opportunity to join the military, who will, in turn, and in conjunction with the state of Illinois, provide the opportunity for them to achieve their college education. There are also grants available.

    It takes hard work, but Generation “Video Game” is going to have to just that: work (just as so many others do). I know of too many 20+ year-olds living at home so that they can have the things that they want (video games, fashion clothing, expensive cars, etc.) while their parents support them instead of getting out there and supporting themselves, like they should be doing (except that means not having all of their wants in exchange for having to provide their needs to themselves….who wants to have to do that?).

    The “Y” is a great place to meet good people and get into good programs. Mr. Brown’s article is excellent, and we all have differing opinions of how Rockford has lost it’s direction, and which direction that it is heading.

    The question that I believe that Mr. Brown is posing, here, is how do you get an apathetic community to put forth the sustained effort to police and transform itself for the better?

    I’m not sure that Rockford, as a whole, holds the key to answering that question.

  11. AmazingScott

    @Rachel “so you’re not going to pick up the phone and call 911 if your house is being broken into and expect the police to show up?” Of course I am- I’m sure that I’d get in trouble for disposing of the carcass myself so someone will have to pick it up…

  12. JGordon

    “Someone blamed the police and the failure of crime prevention? Pretty short sighted right?”-Not really.

    Although we all have the right to disagree with one another, I think that harsher sentencing, and enforcing those sentences would go a long way in Rockford. How may times have you read about the police shrugging their shoulders with an “I don’t know” when questioned about a a recidivist criminal who is loose committing crimes in the Rockford community well short of their sentence being served? Quite a few.

    They didn’t know that they were out, or why they are out well short of their sentence.

    And that’s not always their fault, but there doesn’t seem to be a reliable program in place to manage that.

    You know, things got quiet for a little while over the holidays when the police banded together and started to “sweep” the community for known, wanted, and recidivist criminals. They were collecting only a handful at a time, but still sent a clear message. And one that seemed to be getting through until that program quieted down, and seemingly worked its way to some “back burner”.

    I know that you can argue that being the state’s responsibility, etc. But I can tell you (for a fact) that there are communities the size of Rockford and larger with far, far less crime than Rockford has. Why? They make it a miserable place for criminals to live. Rockford seems to welcome it.

    Let me use Duluth, MN as just one example: When an influx of relocated public housing recipients began relocating to Duluth, MN (Minnesota, by the way, has some of the strongest and most generous welfare benefit programs in the country) from areas such as Chicago and Detroit (when housing developments began to be readily and steadily demolished), Duluth saw a spike in crime: armed robbery, drugs, etc. You name it, they were seeing it, not much different than Rockford. The difference is that they bolstered their Police force, and created task forces to deal with these areas of surging crimes. They deal with the crime very decisively up there, and although there is still crime, most of it isn’t serious (“armed crime”, etc.). They’ve made it very hard to live that type of lifestyle there, and many who choose to live that way left to find cities more tolerant of that behavior in which to live. They have managed to contain the spike in crime, address it, and keep it controlled to manageable levels.

    Rockford should probably have a police force somewhere near to twice its size out there working to contain Rockford’s crime and manage it. Combine this with harsher and sustained sentencing guidelines, and I think that you’ll see a community grow safer and more confident of itself in a very short time.

    This isn’t an insult to Rockford Police, it’s simply a matter of numbers and effectiveness.

  13. John, don’t fool yourself. The two officers you referenced committed one of the most brutal & uncivilized crimes in the history of this country. To murder an unarmed, mentally unstable, man in a church in the presence of children, after violating police tactics & rules of engagement, is not the act of two good men. The majority of the people in Rockford know that the Barmore shooting was unjustified. Multiple bullets in the back, the public still has not received any reasonable details concerning these things. Rockford will not be able to get away from this and the killings of other African American citizens at the hands of officers of the law. The spirits of these men will continue to hunt the officers, their families, and this city that is continually ranked on the most miserable list. When the truth of these cases are shared with the rest of the world, these men will be listed with other men that have committed such acts of barbarity. You will be listed with the people whom justified things such as slavery, colonialism, fascism, & racism.

    John, if you think that killing a man in a church, makes a man a good man, it is questionable that you should be a man of the law. Although, the shooting was deemed justified, the officers still violated many rules of engagement.

    It is also interesting that you compared what your father taught you in regards to dealing with police with that of an African American. This implies that you know very little about the African American experience/history with police. Our experience with police is radically different with that of most European Americans. Thus, we must teach our children differently, unfortunately. My child could be shot dead for one wrong motion. Your child does not have to worry about this. If my African American child is male, he has to worry about the criminalization of the African American male and keep in mind that his life has very little value in this society. Thus, if he is shot by an officer for any ole reason, it will be justified in the minds of many in this society. Thus, for a father to teach his son to retreat to a place where there are witnesses when dealing with police is understandable to persons with knowledge of the history of African American & police relations in this country. For those without this education, it is not reasonable for a person to run from the police. Any officer that is working in an environment with a high population of a certain group of people should know at least a little something about the history, culture, experience of that group of people.

    We can only close these divides and heal wounds with truth and honesty. All must take responsibility!

  14. AmazingScott

    That’s a load of crap Antar- those officers were both heroes before that incident (Oda Poole holds Rockford’s highest award for saving children from a burning building) and the investigation shows very clearly that they didn’t do anything seriously wrong. Attempting to disarm an officer is justifiable cause for the shooting and there were no bullets in his back according to the coroners report. Stop spreading lies and hatred…

  15. Amazing Scott, Hitler was considered a hero by some. These officers are only heroes for a certain group of people. On the other hand, another group of people is praying to God for justice. Just as a certain group of people cheered at the murder of Martin Luther King, others were heartbroken. Some cheered the murder of Christ, others mourned. Some rejoiced at the Emancipation Proclamation, others still fight against it today and display their confederate flag. (It’s ironic that the same type of person that would consider Oda Poole a hero is in many cases that same person that would defend the confederate flag.) Some think Birth of A Nation is a great movie. Others see it as one of the greatest lies told via film. In this connection, Oda Poole & the officer that was rewarded for killing African American youth at Maria’s Pizza are only Heroes for some. For others, they are irresponsible bullies that should be tried for murder.

    Associating truth with hatred is just an irresponsible way to ignore facts & intelligent reasoning. We hear that way out of true reasoning on FOX news & AM radio all day. Am I guessing right when I assume that you are a fan of FOX news & Paul Youngblood?

  16. “The majority of the people in Rockford know that the Barmore shooting was unjustified”

    What? you’ve done a scientific poll and know this to be true how?

    sort of OT isn’t it but I guess it does speak to Mr. Brown’s blog….we are divided and not just by a river.

  17. Rachel, you are right. I cannot assume that the truth still registers in the hearts of man.

  18. JGordon, In order to reduce or prevent crime, the root of the problem must be dealt with. How would you like to have a doctor perform surgery on you without knowing the cause of your ailment? You only mention surface issues. Your reasoning ignores 1000 years of social science. “A hungry man is an angry man, A angry man is a dangerous man.” The police force could be increased to 1000% and we would still have crime as long as the unemployment, education, social justice, and literacy rates are still rock bottom in this town. Suggesting that we change gun laws and increase police is not being tough on crime. The elimination of illiteracy, poverty, injustice is the real way to be tough on crime.

  19. How was the Barmore case unjustified? If my 2 1/2 year old was in a day care and a maniac came in running from the police I would hope the police used what ever force necessary to protect all those innocent little kids! I don’t care who he is or what he did. If he comes into a DAYCARE and endangers all of those kids? And the police are supposed to do what? Talk it out? He already had that chance and ran. Maybe we should stop labeling people as black and white for starts. ANY human that commits a crime is subject to being labeled a criminal, and treated as such. If they don’t like that fact they should not commit crimes. People without jobs commit crimes just as often as those with jobs. We need to create quality jobs in our area that actually pay a fair wage. Federal minimum wage needs increased, has for years. New hires are starting at the same wage as many tenured employees. Education? Gotta degree, cant find a job. Go back to school, get another degree, still cant find a job. Blaming schools for crime? Nah, our schools are terrible, but not teaching people how to be criminals. PEOPLE teach PEOPLE how to be criminals. There is a root cause, and it all starts at home. Parents either gone too much, or just don’t care. Relatives introduce younger relatives to the not so nice life style. We need radical change in government, laws need changed, and people need to start accepting responsibility for their children along with their own failures. Teach respect, responsibility, and accountability young. Have real and harsh consequences. I think we could all go on and on about what needs to happen, and why we think there is a problem. SMILE!

  20. JGordon

    “The elimination of illiteracy, poverty, injustice is the real way to be tough on crime.”-Antar

    Although I feel that tougher and more effective law enforcement in not just necessary, but critical to Rockford regaining traction, and directing itself on a trajectory toward being a far more positive place for people to live, I don’t disagree with your statement.

    However, an education is available to anyone and everyone, which will eliminate the illiteracy that you mention. No matter how bad a school district is, there is still an education to be had there. But someone who wants that has to work for it. People who make the sacrifice in putting forth that effort to educate themselves will give them the tools and skills needed to live a life above the quintessential “poverty line”.

    Although many tout it, there really is no such thing as this “injustice” people make accusation of. There are college scholarship funds that have been made available to citizens of a specific ethnic persuasion only (which in itself, really, is an injustice). Everyone, even visiting (alien) residents with “green cards”, is welcome to enlist in the military. They won’t just give you an education, they will also teach you to live your life right, and put you through college.

    There is opportunity everywhere for those willing to work hard for it.

    Everyone wants a hand out….that’s what is so great about it. It’s easy to sit around and want. Plenty are ready to lie cheat and steal at a moment’s notice. It’s easier to steal than to commit yourself to a higher ideal and work hard for what it is that you want.

    Every individual is the captain of their own ship. Where their journey leads them is entirely in their own hands. They have themselves to thank for their successes, and nobody but themselves to blame for their failures.

    If someone doesn’t like where they are, do something about it. I know many who have. Many who were uneducated, and in some cases illiterate, who are now college graduates and respected professionals.

    This country offers every opportunity to everyone. All one has to do is work hard and make those opportunities happen for themselves.

    If people aren’t willing to do that, then neither you, nor I, nor can anyone help them. Life’s not easy for anyone.

    As the old adage says: “You can lead a horse to water, but you can”t make it drink.”

  21. AmazingScott

    Sorry, Antar, you’ve got the complete wrong take on me; I lean towards the liberal side and would never consider watching Faux News. But I can see by you pulling out Hitler’s name that you want to make it ugly, and that’s what is going on in Rockford. I say that Oda Poole received Rockford’s Medal of Honor for saving 2 children from a burning building (because anyone with the ‘nads to run IN to a burning building trying to help others is a hero in my book) and you accuse me of being a racist and even worse, a Republican. I never said a thing about race, although the kids that Mr Poole saved were black. All I said was some idiot who tried to take a gun away from a cop got shot, and that is justifiable under the law. You are spreading lies and hatred and you represent what is wrong with Rockford. Good luck with that.

  22. My dad and I used to drive though the good, old Swedish neighborhoods looking where i was raised, and I remember before he passed 11 years ago, we drove there again and it was now “the hood”. The river boundary was breached a long time ago. People need to get past the name calling of people telling the facts, and cowardly blocking comments on their blogs , and grow up and accept the FACTS. A very large percentage of Rockford AIN’T PRETTY. Sadly, they have all the power they need to teach their people to point their energy towards getting a job and get the hell off the gov’t help, but instead just keep whining forever. If you have 4 limbs, you can work. People do it with much less, and without gov’t!

  23. There seems to be allot of lively discussion regarding this topic. I knew that it was an issue in this community and while the River may be the “old” divide in my first 6 months here it has been mentioned to me a dozen times.

    I have lived in and out of cities throughout California, Texas and Georgia…I have shared before that no City can be free of the issues we discuss – but more importantly what can we do..or is it even important to people anymore. Have we worked so hard to hold on to the past that we will not allow, no refuse to move ahead. I get that everyone does not want to address the issue in its entirety because its often a sensitive subject – but at what point do we view people as ONE. When do we unite as a community and take responsibility for where we are? I see lots of blame but I don’t see much solution. While I see myself as the facilitator for this Blog I want to reassure you I get the frustration. It doesn’t take long to drive the Rockford area and see where there is disparity. It didn’t take long for my boys to enter high school and see the struggles. It didn’t take long to discover the divide as people have reminded me of this day in and day out.

    But! I ask again, What will we do about it? Do we really expect leaders in our community to make progress in CHANGE without the community coming together? Are we so set in our past experiences and biases that we have now limited our ability as a community to move forward? Where is the limitless people of Rockford who volunteer, get involved and take part in community issues? Why is it that we can easily pass blame on the leaders in the community? We could accomplish so much more if we could just realize the potential. You have the Park Districts, YMCA’s, Boys and Girls Clubs, other Non Profits, a new Superintendent, relatively new Mayor, leaders in the Police force and in other businesses who have seen what it will take to change this divide – but it cannot be done if people do not help bridge the gap.

    Some of you are calling me naive and that may be so? Maybe I just realized in my own life tragedies and disappointments that the only way to make change is to bridge the gap personally and professionally. I’ve worked hard to put myself through school and lived life at a teenage time without family. I know what abuse is, what racism is and what it is like to feel that know one cares. I can’t imagine what life would have been like if people – just the common people had taken notice and worked to make a difference in my life – but instead for years they ignored it, labeled me and assumed I didn’t care.

    There are 1,000 of kids in Rockford who need help. And now we have young and older adults that need it too. We need to mentor, guide, teach, and lend a hand to bring ALL people together. We live in an instant gratification world where we think our efforts must work immediately. BUT it takes time and sometimes years to see the results of our influence.

    White, Black, Brown and all in-between is a color – all which are beautiful in the eyes of God. And for those of us of other faiths or those of none…People are beautiful because they are alive, living parts of our world and we have a responsibility to care.

    When you want to see your grass grow you water it. Without water it will die. If you want to see it blossom and grow with that deep rich green color it needs light.

    We don’t need to hand it out so much that we enable further issues – BUT we do need to lend a hand in revitalizing this community. AND we need to stop allowing the River to divide us. I just remain hopeful that we will soon see a community that is positive, hopeful, and able to move ahead – if not for you – for our future.

  24. Dawn Reints

    I got the pleasure of hearing you speak at the Chamber meeting this morning. Just wanted to say you amaze me. Your vision for what the Rockford community can be was inspiring. Welcome to the community!

  25. Everyone has touched on elements of truth in their comments but ultimately individuals are responsible for the results they achieve in life. Barmore would still be alive had he stopped when the police ordered him to. He would still be alive had he surrendered in the daycare basement- instead he tried to get a gun from a policeman. To ensure his safety, he should have not committed any crimes in the first place! Again, HIS ACTIONS caused his result.

    Education is critical, but remember that education starts at home. Teachers have an impact, but they cannot “re-parent” or de-program kids that have been taught at home that education isn’t important and that authority means nothing. RPS 205’s test scores are bad and grad rates are bad but a school district is only as strong as the parents of its students. Parents must emphasize education and kids must work at earning an education.

    Economic development is the primary factor in our problems. The state of IL and more specifically Chicago politics and big union labor has killed cities like Rockford. Chicago, as a world-class city hasn’t had to face the realities of 3rd tier cities like Rockford, Peoria, Freeport, and East St. Louis. Our state’s business climate is extremely unfriendly- labor costs are high, taxes are high, state funding for many projects flows like water over the Niagra falls to Chicago but trickles to cities like Rockford. Our infrastructure is crumbling and businesses won’t relocate to Rockford. Individuals without the means are stuck here while those with jobs, move east or worse, out of the area completely.

    Policing is also important and if our trend continues, I hope martial law is declared in Rockford but if we can draw business development to Rockford, we can de-emphasize enforcement, which is reactive, and focus more on prevention. Our police do a great job but can’t do it all. They are just part of the equation.

    Bottom line: If people have good jobs, possessions, families, and most of all, HOPE, they usually think twice about gambling their future on crime.

  26. Cathy Johnson

    There was a time, a couple of decades ago, that the majority of Rockford’s population lived in zip codes west of the river. West of the Rock River is a large expanse, and there are many different neighborhoods contained within it. Some used to be among the most affluent in the nation including National Avenue and areas around Rockford Country Club. I don’t know whether this population pattern is still the case today, but regardless, we know that crime and poverty rates have spread over the years to the southeast quadrant (remember the “bloody L” as described in the Register Star more than a decade ago?) and beyond. With the high foreclosure rate, houses in even higher income neighborhoods have been boarded up, providing more opportunities for crime in areas where it may have been minimal in the past.

    Despite all the intelligent and knowledgeable comments in response to your query, I don’t think we yet know the definitive answers to the root of Rockford’s problems (personally I believe they are closely tied to opportunity and lack thereof), and I think that some we choose to deny and think that they are too big to fix, or that they are best left to others to fix.

    About eight or nine years ago, Rockford was hit by a strong windstorm (called a microburst) that left a lot of damage, with much debris from trees and other things. Many people came out to help clean up. I was in a three woman team working on the far west side. People worked very hard, and in very hot and unpleasant conditions, to help strangers as well as neighbors. Maybe this is how problems need to be approached to be successful, with very specific tasks and direction, rather like Heartland Church does. Perhaps all churches, along with service organizations in Rockford, could divide up specific responsibilities in various categories and areas and members of the congregations and organizations can start digging in and tackling them. With the large number of churches in Rockford, it would seem like a bountiful source of help.

  27. Why is it that we all make every issue regarding this very city about race!! Listen people, race is an issue in any city, but what are you going to do about it??? You keep saying negative things about races and making other races mad, do you not know that when you direct conversations on public media outlets such as the Rockford Register Star you create tension with both younger and older generations of those races??!! Listen, if you want to complain about how bad our city is and how racist our police are and how racist blacks are against whites and whites against blacks you need to look in the mirror and really ask yourself if you are doing anything to improve it!! Jesus Christ was hated by communities, by man, he was hated because he brought a heart of change and love that others didnt know!! Everyone with out rank in his time wanted to change but had no idea how, and when Christ walked earth he brought a new vision, a new opportunity to those…many were for Christ but more against him…the point is this, Christ loved even the ones who hated him and he changed many hearts who at the beginning hated him and his beliefs…if you have nothing to say that may help us individuals who actually want to change the city then you need to just stay home, keep watching CNN and old westerns and let the ones who want change to be the change with out causing racial tension…because when you make every single issue about race it hurts our community more than it helps, and therefore you become part of the problem we are trying to fix!

  28. 1sweetswede

    Here is some more statistics for you;
    Rapists are more likely to be a serial criminal than a serial rapist.
    46% of rapists who were released from prison were re-arrested within 3 years of their release for another crime.4

    •18.6% for a violent offense.
    •14.8% for a property offense.
    •11.2% for a drug offense.
    •20.5% for a public-order offense.


    •U.S. Department of Justice. 2005 National Crime Victimization Study. 2005.
    •U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Statistics. 1997 Sex Offenses and Offenders Study. 1997.
    •U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Statistics. 1998 Alcohol and Crime Study. 1998.
    •2002 Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994 Study. 2002

    People who perpetrate crimes against others allow themselves to see the victim as an object. This is why the objectification of women is unnacceptable. This mindset does lead to other crimes. Strip club, lingerie modeling and such objectify women.

  29. 1sweetswede

    Racism is unnaceptable. It is a subject which needs to be reflected upon by people of all races. I happen to be white, I made an effort to teach my children to not see in terms of color. I bought books which reflected a diversity. I interact with diversity. I comment more on character than color. I wonder if black families in this community make the same effort. I have never been treated hatefully myself until I moved here. I have been treated discriminitorily here in Rockford and I wonder why would someone who cries discrimination, would make discriminitory assumptions about me, my mindset and character based upon the fact that I am white? My daughters grew up in the public schools here and had friends of all colors in grade school, and then somewhere between Jr. High and High School, the friends they had that were black females turned on them. My yougnest daughter was jumped by girls who were her friends in grade school and they stole her coat and shoes. They were treated as outcasts, bullied and treated hatefully. Is this acceptable? Is it OK for Blacks to be hatefull towards whites? If the Black community wants to heal some of the racial scares, then be respectful of all. Teach your children respect. Act respectfully when in a place of business or restaraunt. Try working in any restaraunt in Rockford and you will see why some have a discriminatory view towards the Black community. Don’t go out with a negative attitude. Don’t treat your server as a slave to you and you alone. Your server is just trying to earn a living and has other tables as well. Others around you observe your behavior, they may have the power to offer you or not offer you a job some day. Tip accordingly. 18% by the way is the industry standard. Don’t spend 100.00 and think your server is worth 1.00. Not all of them are racist, don’t ssume they are. If you do not feel you are treated eqiually (not preferrably, just equally) let a manager know. Otherwise be aware that if you go in with a negative attitude and try to make their job difficult, you may not feel the love and it may have nothing to do with the color of your skin. I think everyone should have to work in a chain restaraunt at some time as a server, you might treat them differently if you knew what they went through to bring you a meal and knew what type of mental abuse they went through daily.

  30. 1sweetswede

    What if the real estate across the street from Chuckee Cheese were a coroprative for local artist, artisans and craftmen to market their creativity and workmanship? Wouldn’t that be a better use for what is now a strip club?! Imagine if Rockford would support such a place. The treat of going to Chuckee Cheese could be complimented with a visit to view and have appreciation for art, the artists, workmanship and creativity. Hmmmm, the same men who spend their money at State Street Station, would they pend money or effort to support such a place? Probably not. That’s why we have what we have in it’s place. A coroprative business which allows people to provide income for themselves doing something they love and be able to share their art with the community would benefit Rockford and that particular area of Rockford in so many ways. Imagine the business that might then fill surrounding Center. Maybe some individual boutiques, somewhere to buy supplies for artistic expression, maybe a cafe, a used book store, the possibilities are endless. The current occupant of that real estate (State Street Station) does nothing to promote further desirable occupants of the surrounding realsestate.

  31. AmazingScott

    ^ The comment above is a prime example of what’s wrong with Rockford- a small-minded bigot who think his own moral code ought to apply to everybody, even if what they’re doing is perfectly legal.

    If you want to close the SSS then I would suggest that you first BUY them, and then do what you will. Quit expecting the community to pay for things you aren’t willing to do yourself.

    If Chuckee Cheese had a problem with the neighbors then I suspect that they would have moved at some point in the last 15+ years.

    If you were to ask the folks at SSS I would guess that they would argue that they ARE sharing an art with the community, and that they benefit the community in the same way that any business does- by paying taxes. We need more tax-paying businesses in this city, and less short-sighted judgemental jerks…

  32. 1sweetswede

    I assume you must frequent these establishments instead of seeking real art because your reply is very defensive and does not respond to the statistics you requested. Nothing is artistic about what goes on at SSS. It is not burlesque or anything wich resembles artful dance. It is young girls in their underwear. I am not judgemental or short minded at all, it would appear you are. What does being a bigot have to do with anything written above? If you are going to reply try doing it in an intelligent manner.

  33. AmazingScott

    No, I’m a professional artist and you’re still a judgmental jerk. It’s the comments that you make, like “Nothing is artistic about what goes on at SSS. It is not burlesque or anything wich resembles artful dance” that clearly show what a small-minded turd you are. You judge people so quickly that you don’t even realize that you’re doing it. I haven’t been to the SSS in 15 or more years; it sounds like you spend a lot more time there than the average person; studying them perhaps so that you can devastate them with a single comment? Whatever- I’ve left Rockford and as soon as it’s practical I’ll move my business away from there too. You and the rest of the knuckle-dragging idiots can enjoy wallowing in other people’s misery all you want, but don’t be surprised when all of the educated, intelligent and talented people have left.

  34. 1sweetswede

    You might want to read this paper written about strip clubs and their impact.http://www.uri.edu/artsci/wms/hughes/stripc1.htm. I tmight enlighten you as to why it is unnacceptable to have these establishments ocated throughout Rockford and considered to be an accepted part of the culture here. An acceptable form of “entertainment”.

  35. 1sweetswede

    “Stripclubs are popularly promoted as providing harmless entertainment and as places where respectful men go to watch and talk to women (Reed 1997). Stripclub customers are described as normal men who use stripclubs to avoid adultery and therefor find a safe outlet for their sexual desires in balance with their marital commitments (Reed 1997). In contrast, stripclubs are criticized for being environments where men exercise their social, sexual, and economic authority over women who are dependent on them and as places where women are treated as things to perform sex acts and take commands from men (Ciriello 1993)”.

    “Club owners are free from tax obligations and tort liability. Owners pay no Social Security, no health insurance, and no sick pay.”http://www.uri.edu/artsci/wms/hughes/stripc1.htm

    “The women in this study condemn the men associated with stripping and the impact stripping has on them as the worst parts of stripping. Women do not like the way customers treat them (Thompson and Harred 1992). Furthermore they say they do not like talking to customers, asking men for money, and resent having to have to deal with them at all. They find customers irritating because they are drunk and have negative attitudes towards women. Women characterize customers as scum, psycho mama’s boys, rapists and child molesters, old perverted men, idiots, assholes, and pigs. Strippers are largely disgusted by customers and describe them as pitiful and pathetic, stupid and ignorant, sick, controlling and abusive. “They smell so sour, they breathe very heavy and kind of wheeze when women are near.” “They are weak abusers who have to subordinate women and girls to feel like a man.” “I see my dad. They’re old enough to be my father.” “Yuck. I am repulsed by the sight, sound, smell, and touch of them.” “I’m embarrassed for them.” The women offer insightful evaluations of stripclub customers. They say that these men do not know how to communicate. Moreover, they perceive that customers are out of control, have power and abuse problems, and will do anything to degrade women because they hate women. Strippers also state that customers want a free show and think women are cheap”.

    “Men associated with stripclubs use force and coercion to establish sexual contact with women in stripping, proposition women for prostitution, intentionally inflict bodily harm upon the women, and expose themselves to the women. These actions are prohibited by law, yet when these crimes are committed against women in stripclubs, the general attitude that strippers deserve what they get prevails. Women’s complaints of abuse are met with contempt and are dismissed by owners, managers, and staff. Women are customarily told to ignore abuse and have been rebuffed with “Go bend over and do your job” and “You have to expect a certain amount of that.” In the case of women in stripping, enduring sexual violence is part of her job description. Women in stripping are expected to endure these abuses, degradations, and humiliations with a smile and a “Thank You”.

    The degree of sexual violence perpetrated against strippers explodes the myths about stripping as harmless entertainment. The verbal harassment, physical and sexual abuse, and financial exploitation women suffer in stripclubs is unparalleled in any other legitimate workplace. Women in stripping are subject to actions that would be perceived as assaultive or a least unwanted in any other context or were directed against other women. Stripclubs allow men to use and abuse women in a manner that is not tolerated in any other business.

    The organization and conditions of stripclubs not only produce and reproduce gender inequality, but facilitate and normalize men’s violence against women. Sexual violence has been normalized, institutionalized, and legalized in the stripclub industry as socially sanctioned male behavior. Stripclubs and the men associated with stripclubs have turned acts of violence into entertainment and tied male sexual pleasure to victimizing and exploiting. Stripclubs are structured according to male domination and control, and are inherently violent. It is impossible to set up stripclubs without sexual violence and that is reason to challenge the legitimacy of stripclubs.

    Future research should address men associated with stripclubs and their views on women in stripping and stripclub activities. An exploration of why stripclubs exist, an explanation of why men go to stripclubs, and a description of how stripclub owners and government policy establish the tone and culture of stripclubs are also in order. Future research should explore gender role socialization and female strippers’ perceptions of sexual harassment and violence. The definition of sexual harassment should be tested with strippers to learn if they perceive actions differently than women in other workplaces. In turn, strippers’ rights in the workplace must be considered. Studies focused on women’s emotional and psychological response to violence in stripclubs, including drug and alcohol abuse, should be conducted”.http://www.uri.edu/artsci/wms/hughes/stripc3.htm

  36. AmazingScott

    Well, you can copy and paste to rationalize being judgmental but you still don’t get it, do you? Thanks for proving my point. With supporters like you Rockford is doomed.

  37. 1sweetswede

    No, you still don’t get it!”Sexual violence has been normalized, institutionalized, and legalized in the stripclub industry as socially sanctioned male behavior. Stripclubs and the men associated with stripclubs have turned acts of violence into entertainment and tied male sexual pleasure to victimizing and exploiting. Stripclubs are structured according to male domination and control, and are inherently violent. It is impossible to set up stripclubs without sexual violence and that is reason to challenge the legitimacy of stripclubs”. Do you have a daughter? Would you want her in this environment? Or is it just ok to victimize other people’s daughters? The acceptance of these establishments in family neighborhoods leads right into the sex crime rate and overall crime rate (. It is an accepted part of the culture here to look the other way while daughters are being victimized, objectified and the men who are able to split people into different categories of being deserving of treatment which is respectful, are also able to do so in other areas of their lives.Rapists are more likely to be a serial criminal than a serial rapist.
    46% of rapists who were released from prison were re-arrested within 3 years of their release for another crime.4

    •18.6% for a violent offense.
    •14.8% for a property offense.
    •11.2% for a drug offense.
    •20.5% for a public-order offense.


    •U.S. Department of Justice. 2005 National Crime Victimization Study. 2005.
    •U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Statistics. 1997 Sex Offenses and Offenders Study. 1997.
    •U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Statistics. 1998 Alcohol and Crime Study. 1998.
    •2002 Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994 Study. 2002

    People who perpetrate crimes against others allow themselves to see the victim as an object. This is why the objectification of women is unnacceptable. This mindset does lead to other crimes. Strip club, lingerie modeling and such objectify women.
    Stop rationalizing and see it for what it is. Young girls are lured into this industry at a very young age, many are not even old enough to vote or buy a alcoholic beverage, yet it is OK for them to make the decision to work in this industry at an age where they do not know the ramifications long term or short term.

  38. AmazingScott

    Yawn. I don’t care how many slanted studies you copy/paste to support your judgmental statements, the fact remains that they are engaged in lawful business and if you want it to stop then you need to buy them out or STFU. You’re the one spreading hatred and intolerance, therefore you are the problem, not them.

    And as you’re copy/pasting your next judgmental comment you might remember what Da Vinci said “The man who quotes authors speaks from memory not intellect.”

  39. 1sweetswede

    You still did not answer the question at hand, would you want your daughter lured into this industry or is it only ok to abuse and victimize other peoples’ daughters? I would suggest you also take your own advice and not borrow the words of others. The fact also remains that there are girls underage working there, there are girls not old enough to consume alcohol who are working there and consuming alcohol and there is prostitution, which are illegal.I am not judgmental, just see it for what it is. The acceptance of an industry which objectifies and abuses the young girls of the Rockford area on the main thoroughfare which goes through family neighborhoods.You on the other hand have blinders on and I have not yet read an intelligent reply from you.

  40. AmazingScott

    Of course I didn’t answer the question, I’m not debating your judgement, I’m saying that your mindset is that your opinion is right and everyone else is wrong, and you instantly demonize and deride anyone who disagrees with you. It is impossible to have an intelligent debate like that. That’s the problem with Rockford, thank you for proving my point.

  41. jamie

    Issues with discrimination have been an issue in this city for a long time and when you segragate minorites from the community and give them lower education and equality than please understand that higher crime rate and violence will become a natural backlash and word of advise for city leaders when you treat certain groups of people as animals than dont be surprised when they start to behave that way. I think more people need to study usa history! Then maybe more people can make more educated coments!