Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Welcome to Hell
I went out photographing this morning with X. At about 9:30 I got into his car with a white chocolate mocha in hand (I am paying him in cofffee) and we headed to the West Side. Our first stop was 603 Homan, where Michael Stanciel, 30, was killed over the weekend. The spot was at a busy intersection just 2 blocks from the M & K Grocery (where we photographed last week). When we pulled up there were a few guys hanging out on the corner. As X predicted, they vanished as soon as they saw my camera. As I was photographing, X was explaining the current climate of the neighborhood to me. He said that a cop killed a gang member very close by to where we were just a few weeks ago and that there were riots afterwards. He said that the environment in the neighborhood is still pretty hostile.
The next address we went to was 130 North Francisco where 21 year old Marques Betties was also shot and killed this past weekend. I was suprised to find that it was on the corner under the el tracks beside Cather Elementary School. It was never mentioned in the media that this incident happened so close to a school. A memorial that was still standing on the corner was oddly juxtaposed by children playing on the playground just beyond the gates behind it. At one point a young man stopped his car on the side by where I was photographing and asked X if I was taking photos of the memorial. X explained what I was doing and the man did a u-turn and went back the way he came. X thought he must have been Marques' friend and that someone must have called to tell him that someone was photographing in the area. He seemed to only be there to find out what we were up to.
We left that spot and swung by the Police Station. X misplaced the exact address of the last location so we went inside to look it up. I got a quick tour of the station (booking rooms, juvenile detention, lock-up). From there we jumped on 290 and headed to Kostner and Congress. Antoine Wright, 37, was gunned down right along side the liquor store that sits on that intersection. We pulled into the gas station across the street. X told me to hold tight. A group of guys were hanging out in the parking lot of the store that seemed like they were up to no good. One of them was tweeking out. He was jabbering and all amped up. Another one of them kept putting his tank top up over his face to hide his identity. X pointed out which guy was the dope boy, which was the peon that worked exclusively to feed his crack habit, etc. This was all speculation, but X thought the situation looked bad and that we should come back to this spot another time. I couldn't have agreed more. If this corner is what hell looks like I wouldn't be suprised.