Killing Season Chicago, Wicker Park, July 2011

Click on the names of the deceased on the right navigation panel to see images of the sites and information about the circumstances of their deaths.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Just Another Day in Paradise

corner drug store, not to be confused with a drug corner

Today X and I went back to Kostner and Congress (where we decided it was too dangerous to photograph last week). As we pulled off the highway, I recognized a few of the men that were standing on the corner outside the liquor store. I made a comment about it being too early in the morning for these guys to be out. X explained that a dope corner like this is always staffed. They do shifts, so it is likely that we'll never be able to come here when no one is around, even at 6 or 7 in the morning. Luckily, I found some additional info this week that said that Antoine Wright was killed in the alley abutting the backside of the liquor store. X found an angle that would put us out of the visual range of the pack. Phew! As I photographed there was some activity pretty far down the alley ahead of us. We watched as I waited for them to get out of my shot. X pointed out that a drug deal was going on. He narrated the play-by-play for me as it was happening. Before I realized what was going on, I took a few shots, so there may or may not be a hand off going on way in the background of a few of my images.

As we got in the car, I noticed a shiny tricked out black car pull up, stop, and watch us from about five car lengths away. Glad the camera was away and we were off to our next location. We pulled around on a small side street, passing what was clearly another dope spot, to get back to the main road. There were about 10 people hanging out outside this house that was the only house on the block. As we passed, they called out loudly. X said that they are calling out to let everyone know that someone that may be a cop is coming. That's why it is so hard to bust them. The more people they can afford to employ, the more security they can put out to watch. Many of the kids calling out couldn't have been more than 15 years old.

We drove by Kostner and Wilcox, where Terrance Jackson was killed on June 18th. It was a busy street and there were lots of people around. We got stared down as we passed. X joked that they must have no idea what to make of us. We couldn't locate the exact spot, so we went to the station to look it up. X recognized the address and said we should try to get there earlier because it would be really busy by now. We picked another address in the area to hit before calling it a day.

The next stop would be 2431 South Central Park Avenue where Jorge Luis Flores, 22, was killed after and argument. There were a few people sitting on the porch at the residence and a few kids playing in the front yard. There was no way I could photograph there today. Before totally giving up, I remembered that the location code for the homicide was "other." I thought maybe we could pull around the alley in the back and see what it looked like from there. The gangway gate was left open and I could see down the side of the house to the kids playing in the front. X said that there is no code for gangway and it is possible that this is where it happened. I took out my camera and took a few images. I was less concerned with safety here than with being respectful to Flores' family, who were just out of sight of me and my camera. What would they think if they knew I was photographing the site of Flores' death? Should I have stopped and had a conversation with them about my project? Was it cowardly to sneak out of their sight and steal a few images? These are questions I definitely need think about as I continue my photographing.

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