Stop The Violence


On Sept. 11, all hell broke loose. I saw the hijacked planes crash into the World Trade Center and saw the buildings crumble on television as it happened along with millions of other viewers. I stared at my set for a long, long time before I understood that this was for real. Thousands had lost their lives in the two World Trade Centers alone.

I watched the same pictures over and over feeling the horror of what this could mean to us all. These attacks will force people to make many adjustments in the way we live and the way we think.

My daughter-in-law, Varlarya Richmond, worked for TWA. She had already been notified that she would be laid off before the catastrophe. The Sept. 11 attacks made the company move up their lay off by two weeks.

The next day, I had to go to the store and get myself something to eat. This was the day my Link card came on and I was hungry. I had to stop on the way back at a local store on the corner of Roosevelt Road and Whipple Avenue. The Brothers Five is owned by an Arab American family. One of the men delivering cupcakes asked the owner, “Do you think it was one of us?” They both broke out laughing.

President George W. Bush started air attacks in Afghanistan on Oct. 5 trying to flush out the terrorists. The U.S. Congress gave Bush the power to do what he thought best. Afghanistan is already a war-torn country. Thirteen days later, on Oct 18, President Bush sent in the ground troops. Many countries promised their support but none have come forward yet.

The President and almost the entire U.S. have started to go to church. People are praying. The children are allowed to say the pledge of allegiance in its native form, with the “in God we trust” part. It will be God we have to put our trust in because no one knows what lies in our future.

It must have taken years of planning for the terrorists to pull this on off. These people believe they are acting like God wants them to. Death is a reward for their good deeds. Our focus is on Osama bin Laden and retaliation but I think we should have had more security in our airports and control towers to begin with.

The President told the media to keep from leaking information so the enemy doesn’t find out what’s going on. I think it’s way too late for that. The men who hijacked these planes lived here in America and took pilot lessons here in America. They boarded the planes here in America.

Then somebody, maybe the same terrorists, started sending a white powder which contains anthrax virus spores through the mail. There also have been many pranksters, including a few in the Chicago area. There is talk that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is involved in the anthrax mailings. We fought Hussein in the last war we had. My niece, Liza Collette Cross, served in that conflict. She was a sergeant and led her own unit. She came back with illnesses from the chemicals the U.S. used in that war.

War in the Projects
At about 8:10 p.m. on Oct. 9, the people who occupy the lobby of my building had their own war. I counted about 35 shots. It wasn’t the first outbreak of warfare since the Lawndale Complex high rises have been torn down. The shooters were emptying their guns, firing four or five shots at one time. Then they seemed to come from another direction. This cleared it up for me that the noises I heard recently werent firecrackers.

At 8:17 p.m., police cars came from all directions. There were 9 cars in front and about 6 in the back. No ambulance came.

On Saturday, Oct. 10, the people in the apartment in front of me broke out into a fight. They were having a party at first. Then they came out on the gallery bumping into my door and against the walls. There were women screaming and children crying. They took the fight to the streets. The man was holding the woman by the neck and telling her how he would kill her. Then they came back upstairs; the drug dealers don’t like the residents bringing the police around. The dealers control the lobby. They will not be fighting the war that was started by America.

The young men in the lobby will either be incarcerated or dead. Osama Bin Laden is a world away. My immediate fears are the police, the KKK and the gang bangers.

In the Lakefront News for Aug. 29, Caitlin Devitt reported at least five shootings within a span of two blocks at the Harold Ickes Homes. These homes start at 2200 S. State St., a mix of blonde mid-rise buildings. The 21st District Commander, Adrienne Stanley, said all the CHA developments had an increased number of shootings.

“We can’t verify any one reason but it is definitely gang related,” Stanley said. “It all revolves around narcotics dealing.”

Police think the violence is between three different factions of a local street gang.

The violence at the Dearborn apartments has the tenants “under siege,” according to the Oct. 3 Lakefront Outlook. Anjanette McGee, who has been the Resident Management Corporation president for the past year, said, “Enough is enough.

McGee, 29, who has lived in the Dearborn Homes all her life, was shot during the violence at Dearborn Homes. Her fiancée, Donald Clark, 39, was also shot by stray bullets as they sat outside in the 2700 block of South State Street. McGee said, Once I felt safe here: this place was my home. But now, nobody is safe here.

Jamie Kalven, advisor to the Local Advisory Council, had the right idea of what’s going on. He said the growing fear expressed by the residents is “an unseen by-product” of the CHA’s redevelopment.

Kalven said, “It’s a bureaucratically driven process that has turned these developments into ghost towns.” He pointed out that only one apartment is occupied on the 14th floor of a building in Stateway Gardens. That leaves the only tenant there vulnerable to anything and everything. I interviewed Kalven before, when I wrote about the Chicago police raid on a Stateway Gardens basketball game in the same building.

Violence can bring out miracles, too. People have to come together, learn to love one another. We must be aware of how we treat each other. We all see how close death is for all of us, any one of us.

The way I endure my son’s death is to be a better person. I live each day as if it could be my last. I am more loving to the ones I still have around me. I am more patient with everyone. I believe, somehow, my son knows and he co-signs.

Miracle Baby
On Aug. 30, a 3-year-old child was run over by a van at 1012 N. Karlov Ave. The baby and his mother were crossing to the other side of the street when the van came speeding around the corner, hit the child and knocked him down before running over the baby”s head. The WGN news report said the baby was taken to Mt. Sinai Hospital.

I went to Mt. Sinai. The mother was a bit upset and I couldn’t understand much of what was being said. The regular news people kept getting in front of me so I decided to come back later. I returned about 3 p.m. and talked to her aunt, Arena Curtis, who told me that the mother had gone home. She informed me that the baby was in a coma and the doctors couldnt tell them anything as yet. I told her I would return.

The next day, I was able to speak to the mother, Tavitha Owens. She explained that the baby’s head had only been fractured and he was still in a coma.

The mother said that when she first saw the van, it was driving down the street like crazy. After the van hit her child, the van’s driver slowed down, then sped up again and ran over his head.

She also told me that the media was making incorrect reports that the van was completely white. She said the van was maroon and gray and had a white stripe on the side. No one had seen the driver. The neighbors and her sister’s boyfriend chased the van until it was out of sight.

Owens expressed her distaste for the way the media and the hospital staff treated her.

“They act as if I don’t care,” she said. “I felt really bad seeing my baby lying there on the ground. I have flashbacks and all I can do now is pray that my baby comes out of this OK.”

I assured her that I was praying for him too. I went back each day. On Sept. 4, the baby came out of his coma. The mother told me that she talked to him and touched him but “he acts as if he doesn’t know who I am but I believe it’s because of the injury.”

On Sept. 6, the nurses at the visitors desk told me he had been released that morning.

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