Friday, July 30, 2010
Bulls & Obama Riots
X picked me up at around 8 this morning to go and photograph on the West Side. Our first stop was in the 5400 block of West Chicago Ave. The stores were mostly still closed, so the streets were relatively quiet. Every once in awhile we would pass a block that showed some signs of life, people crowded around a community center, a church, or a dope spot. The area we drove through to get to the location was where the Bulls Riots were in 1992 and where the littler known Obama Riots took place on election night in 2008. X was there during the 2008 rioting. He said that people lit dumpsters on fire and pushed them into the street, threw lit fireworks into the air, flipped cars and honked their car horns. I tried to imagine it. On the other side was our destination, a stand-alone convenience store with a big parking lot. It was deserted except for a man walking his dog across, cutting off the distance to the corner. He eyed us suspiciously. Another woman walked up to the store, inspecting us out of the corner of her eye. I crossed the street and photographed. It began to rain. A boy rode his bike behind me on the sidewalk and a man looked on for a few minutes from the opposite corner. Otherwise, it was eerily quiet.
This odd sense of quiet in the bustling city followed us to the next location in the 3000 block of North Kolmar Ave. Kolmar is a boulevard style street lined with single family homes with traffic running north and south on either side of a large grassy patch with perfectly planted trees in the middle. Divai Serna and Stephanie Valeolavar were shot and killed in the yard of one of these houses. The only movement was a man walking his dog in the grass median. It was so quiet that X and I realized that we were whispering to each other. We laughed about it, but felt compelled to continue to talk in low voices. Maybe it was because I was pointing my camera at someone's house, someone who may be a relative of one of the victims.
Our last location was in the 3500 block of West Beach St. in Humbolt Park. Adrian Gates was shot and killed in the street on this sleepy residential street at about 7:15 PM. It was still light out. A family walked by while I was photographing. I could hear the laughter of the kids as they walked out of sight. Most of the houses on this and adjacent blocks displayed some kind of religious iconography, an interesting incongruity to the purpose of my visit.
Today we photographed at two sites where I was pointing my camera at someone's residence on a quiet side street. It posed an interesting challenge for me because I could not deny the life that existed inside those houses, and the importance they might have in the life that was lost on the street or in the yard in front of them. Maybe we were whispering out of respect for the people inside or maybe we were trying not to have to face the idea of the sadness that might remain within.