Thursday, June 17, 2010
I Don't Want You Out There Without a Radio
C had a bunch of meetings today, so she got her friend M to take me out to photograph. It was a bit of a rocky start. I waited at our meeting point for about 1/2 hour before C called to let me know that M would be there soon and that they were just having problems finding a radio. She apologized but said she didn't want me out there without one. Understood. I had a list of 4 places to shoot so we got on our way, one hour, one new car battery, and one police radio later.
The first stop was attempt nuumber two at 3716 South Blackstone where 18-year-old Jonathan Lee was shot and killed June 4th. I tried to photograph there last week with C, but there was a large group of kids surrounding his memorial, so we decided to come back. We turned onto Blackstone from 67th Street and it was remarkably quiet. As I photographed I began to notice graffiti all over the surrounding buildings that read R.I.P. It was even on the mailboxes. A few boys walked by. One joked with M, "I swear I didn't do anything officer." M laughed and said he was not in trouble to which the boy responded, "That's cause you didn't catch me yet." As we got in the car another young man walked down the street and entered the building next to us. Something that looked like suspenders, that I soon realized was a baby carrier, hung from the back of his shoulders. He looked like he couldn't have been more than 16, maybe he was babysitting, maybe not.
After packing up there, we headed northwest to 4750 South Forrestville. At this address on June 9th, Frenchie Ford and William Huntley, both 25, were shot and killed at a post-funeral gathering. The address was near the corner in a large brick apartment building on a quiet little side street. On the opposite side of the street there were beautiful mansions that have definitely seen better days. For me, it was a suprising location for such violence being that it felt so serene. As we drove from the location we traversed streets that looked as though they could be in one of the more expensive parts of town.
We drove north on Damen, looking for 28th Street, which was pretty hard to find since it is just a small strip way back in an industrial zone. We drove back towards the location on a truck-lined street that was flanked with manufacturing complexes, chainlink fences, and lots of overgrown grass. Christopher Walton was shot and killed here in a car at 10:33 p.m. In the day time, the area is a thriving zone for trucking groceries, but at night, I imagine this area to be as quiet as a mouse. It is so off the beaten path that I imagine Walton must have been brought here to face his death. I imagined him knowing that he was going to die. I wondered what he did to deserve this fate. To be shot to death in a car in the silence of the night with the Chicago skyline shimmering in the background.
On the way to the next location we drove by Chicago's Juvenile Detention Center. It is a big gray and white building just west of Ashland on Roosevelt. M told me that when they are bringing kids there they announce it on the radio by saying, "Bringing a naughty to the audi." Right across the street in a similar building is Chicago's FBI Headquarters. Our last stop was at 1339 West Washburne where Napoleon Gilmore, 22, was killed. 1339 was part of a public housing complex, so we pulled into the parking lot and got out. The builings in the complex were in rows perpendicular to the street. Between each set of apartments there were playgrounds. 1339 sat right next to the playground within its area. As I photographed I could see a few of the residents peeking out their windows watching me. One young woman came to her door and yelled over to us asking what I was photographing. She was very nice until I picked up my camera to go and she insisted that I not point my camera in her direction.
My addresses were all checked off for today so M kindly dropped me off at my doorstep.