What is this, you ask. Is it a slow day in Baghdad? No, this was the weekend in the City. Chicago had a very tough weekend when it comes to violence. Friday night alone 20 people were shot. These were mostly unrelated, and were all over the city. The most interesting piece of information is that one of the shootings occurred one block from my house. The guy who was shot in my neighborhood is not cooperating with the police -- obviously it was some sort of gun, drug, or gang activity. Funny part (can there be a funny part??) is that the city had a news conference earlier in the week saying that violent crimes were down. Looks like the thugs got the news and wanted to change that.
I am not worried. My neighborhood is a little gritty, but my apartment is safe. Unlike other neighborhoods in Chicago, my neighborhood doesn't have a ton of gang activity (we do have gangs and gun violence, but it is relatively contained), our big issue is crazy crimes (my term). My neighborhood has an inordinate number of homeless and psychologically damaged people. I am not afraid of the group of 8 African American teens hanging out on the corner -- I'm more concerned about the homeless woman covered in her own feces walking down the street with a big gulp cup and a plastic knife. As I walk past her she could turn and quickly insert that partner to the spork in my jugular before I even knew what happened. I don't really concern myself with it though. When it is my time to go, it is my time-- although I don't go around putting myself in tough situations. I don't go to the ATM on Lawrence and Broadway at 3:15am and get $200 in cash -- I'll take cabs around the neighborhood if it is super late, I keep an eye open for people standing around, I look out for 24 hour businesses, or buildings with cameras, doormen or emergency call buzzers.
The sad part is I bet the crime rate will continue to increase. As the economy continues to tumble, people will feel more and more pressure. The haves will continue to have (maybe a little less than normal, but still...) and the have nots will start to have less and less -- the disparity between the two will increase and violent crimes and crimes against property will increase. What can be done? Increased police presence should at least allow the rational criminals to think before they act (this will do nothing for the crazies). I sat on my balcony (gorgeous day today) and I saw police cars doing a pretty frequent loop around the neighborhood. This won't get to the root of the problem though -- there needs to be a fundamental change and we each need to do something. What do we need to do? I don't know. Maybe being more involved in our communities? Maybe mentoring kids? Showing them that just because there family is poor and uneducated doesn't mean they have to be the same way -- they can break the cycle. Or maybe the police should just shoot people who look like criminals -- I'm no fuckin genius. Just go do something positive.