Neighborhood in Chicago goes dry

Wednesday, September 12, 2001

CHICAGO -- Community leaders of a South Side neighborhood are celebrating their victory of shutting down liquor stores and taverns, in an effort to transform an area where liquor previously could be bought on every other block.

Since residents voted in 1998 to ban liquor sales in Roseland, city officials have closed 27 liquor establishments along the South Michigan Avenue business strip. City officials confiscated 14 liquor licenses Friday, prompting community members to declare a victory on Monday in their fight to ban liquor.

The Rev. James T. Meeks and other community leaders blamed liquor sales for loitering, drug dealing and prostitution in the neighborhood.

Meeks, pastor of Salem Baptist Church, said he already has seen improvements in the area that he hopes will spread to other neighborhoods.

However, not everyone in Roseland is celebrating the ban.

"This was a slap in the face. It makes you feel like you're a criminal," said Houston Towers, owner of Towers Food and Liquor. "I've run a clean, legitimate business 18 years."

Towers said the ban just means his customers will travel a few extra blocks to buy liquor at other stores.

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