Violence sparks gas station closure effort

The Oak Park Village Board voted on Sept. 19 to close gas stations from midnight to 5 a.m. after nearly a dozen violent incidents occurred at them over the last year, but the gas stations sued to block the ordinance.

The crimes included the June 22 murder of 18-year-old Jailyn Logan-Bledsoe, a 2022 graduate of Oak Park and River Forest High School. Logan-Bledsoe was shot and killed at the BP gas station at 100 Chicago Ave. in the early hours of June 22.

Two Chicago residents, a 21-year-old man and his 17-year-sister, have been charged with first-degree murder in Logan-Bledsoe’s case, according to the Village of Oak Park’s website.

At the Village Board meeting on Sept. 19, attorney Paul Stephanides explained why the village supported the ordinance.“Our reasoning for this ordinance is a number of crimes that have occurred at 24-hour gas stations from Jan. 1, 2019 to June 29, 2022 after 12 a.m.,” he said.

Community residents and students reacted to the ordinance in interviews with Trapeze.

“I am in total agreement with this ordinance,” said Suzane Cortez, a Northeast Oak Park resident. “I live within a block and a half of a gas station where a murder occurred. I feel as though people know when they need gas and there is no reason for a gas station to be open 12 a.m. to 5 a.m., which may induce criminal activities.”

On the other hand, OPRF student Ava Cheeks contended not all gas stations should be closed because people still need gas during late-night hours. However, she said the gas stations should provide “more protection and more security.”

Azziza Parker, another resident of Northeast Oak Park, expressed relief when the ordinance passed. “OK now it’s closed, so all of that loud music and ignorant driving that happens there, we don’t have to deal with now,” she said. “So maybe that might make the whole area safer.”

The gas stations were only closed overnight for a short time when an Illinois judge granted a temporary restraining order blocking the ordinance on Sept. 30. According to the Wednesday Journal, seven gas station owners filed suit against the Village citing the ordinance threatens their livelihood.

David Jasmer, an attorney representing the gas stations, argued at the board meeting that, “These gas stations are essential businesses staffing essential workers and members of the small business community of Oak Park. As such it is critical that they remain open.”

Jasmer also argued the taxes from these gas stations are essential to the village.