Even though much of my work is literally TOO BIG FOR WORDS, occasionally I am inspired to write, and this is the place for that. Feel free to join in the conversation. Thanks for reading.
On Tuesday night, I had the oddest experience driving down 290. Actually, it was pretty darn scary. Traveling eastbound around 6:30 PM, I was overcome - and traffic was eventually stopped - because of increasing police presence: 4 undercover cars and dozens - yes dozens! - of whaling cop cars and ambulances whizzing past. They were running curbs and blasting by with an intensity I’ve never ever seen. The most gorgeous full moon ever lit the city at dusk. It was both gorgeous and terrifying. Exiting the highway at the medical district, I noticed double cop car coverage at every corner and twice that at all UIC and Stroger Hospital entrances. Something bad was going down.
Later, I learned that 100 cop cars plus additional SWAT teams had converged on a standoff scene in Englewood — Chicago’s deadliest suburb. A police captain had been shot. With all due respect and gratitude that Captain Kulbida survived, I wondered what else could lead to calling out a force so great? This was a 9.1.1. if there ever was one.
Since January, 1,382 people have been shot in Chicago - most of them boys, most of them teenagers, most of them black. (http://crime.chicagotribune.com/chicago/shootings) That’s five people a day - victims of gun violence! The accused in the most recent case is a Gulf War veteran who is bipolar and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. Tragedy of the Greek tragedy kind.
I can’t help but wonder what might happen if 100 cop cars responded each time a child was shot in Austin or what would happen if 100 cop cars responded each time a woman was abused in a home in Chicago. Mayor Rahm Emanuel was there late into the night, providing comfort to the family of the injured police captain. What would happen if 100 of us showed up to comfort the families of the 1,382 victims… and screamed “Enough!”? What would it take to make our streets safe?
On Wednesday, another 18-year-old black boy was killed by a white cop in St. Louis, Missouri. The cop shot the teenager 17 times. News like this is really hard to comprehend, especially when it occurs so close to home, or to my daughter’s dorm in this case (one mile). Hundreds of people are taking to the streets in St. Louis as I write. How much closer must the violence get before I take to the streets, I wonder…