So I lied. I did end up going out to photograph with C yesterday afternoon. The weather took a turn for the better and the afternoon light began to peak through, so we made the call. I met C at around 3. She had a list of 7 sites that were in the general vicinity. I knew photographing in the afternoon was going to present some challenges. Being out in the morning, there were not many people around, but on such a nice afternoon neighborhoods would be thriving and I knew could not count on capturing the isolation I was looking for in photographing these sites.
As we were driving south to the first site, C gave me a rundown of the history of the neighborhoods we were driving through. At one point we past a long strip of beautiful gray and brown stone mansions. C pointed out that every 3rd house had the windows boarded up. They bordered a park where a portion of the Olympics would have been held had Chicago won the bid.
First we went to 6500 South King Drive where Quintin Sharp, 25, was killed by an armed security guard after trying to run him over near the gate of the Parkway Gardens housing complex. As we pulled into the complex, it was apparent that people were hanging out outside of their apartments and enjoying the day, but the spot where Sharp was killed eerily seemed to be invisibly cordoned off from the activity that surrounded the site. It made me uncomfortable and I was visibly shaking.
Our next address was 6716 South Blackstone where 18-year-old Jonathan Lee was shot and killed. Driving past the Oakwoods Cemetery on 67th Street reminded me a lot of the way it looks to pass the Graceland Cemetery in Uptown, a high wall on one side of the road and brick buildings that could have been transplanted from Wrigleyville on the opposing side of the street, only these buildings were largely abandoned. We turned on to Blackstone to see a crowd of 15-20 kids hanging out around a memorial for Lee made of stuffed animals, brightly drawn upon poster paper, and from what I could tell, Colt 45-40s. As we passed C & I discussed whether I wanted to photograph with all the people there. She even offered to go back and talk to them and ask them if they could clear away so that I could take some pictures. I decided we should respect their grieving time and come back another day when the site wasn't so fresh and active.
Our next address was 5648 South Morgan Street in Englewood where Shannon Byars was shot and killed on June 6th. The 5600 block of South Morgan is a tree-lined street with mostly single-family homes. Many people were sitting on their porches watching us as we passed. Much like the site of Sharp's death, this spot also felt desolate in comparison the immediate surrounding area. A memorial wrapped around the base of a lone standing tree marked the location. Taped to it was a piece of brown paper bag that read, "RIP Big Hommie," it was flanked by stuffed animals, balloons, candles, and Patron bottles. As I photographed a family walked across the street. They passed the memorial as though it wasn't even there.
We had time to make one last stop. C had a name and address that was not on my radar. The date of the incident was also in the future. She wasn't sure about the false information and it was close by so we went there to see if we could figure out what happened. The address was an empty lot on a similar residential street. There were no apparent signs of anything happening there. She pulled ahead to the next block where a few 20 something year old guys were hanging out on the street. They were from the neighborhood and didn't recognize the name or circumstance. We decided to call it a day and go back out early next week.