Averting Attention on West Bluff

By Anna Yee

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June 27, 2011 Updated Jun 27, 2011 at 10:44 PM CDT

These streets have been home to Kenny Rogers and his family for more than 15 years, but recent disturbances have made this place feel like less of a home.

"They're going up in the yards," said Rogers. "They're going up in the porches. They jump in front of the cars. They slap at the cars, acting like they're going to do something, trying to be intimidating to people passing through. There's no call for it. It's out of control."

Some residents say a group of 50 or more young African Americans crowded the streets of Thrush and Sheridan late Friday night, disturbing the peace and yelling racial slurs.

Rogers' neighbor and Altamont Neighborhood Association President Paul Wilkinson blogged the mob yelled threats to white residents-- that got national attention in the Drudge Report.

"We thrive on sensationalism," said Don Jackson, Peoria NAACP President, "not only in this city, but this country. When you add 'mob' to 'race,' everybody wants to hear about it."

Several other residents say they didn't see or hear anything out of the ordinary.

Peoria's city leaders agree.

City Manager Patrick Urich and the police held a special meeting Monday...shining the spotlight on the neighborhood, not the incident.

"We have to talk to the community about these issues that make the neighborhoods good places to be," said Urich, Monday.

Urich says the city will work with Neighborhood Associations and others to increase safety in the area-- Something Rogers hopes to see revived in the West Bluff.

"Everybody used to be able to get out, play, have fun, go see your neighbors," said Rogers, "without the fear of being, jumped, harassed, beat up, or anything else."