Wednesday, September 1, 2010
72nd Street to 38th Street + Elotes
I have been photographing so much lately that I am not keeping up with my reports. I have made it to over 40 spots in the past week and a half, which means that I am finally starting to make some headway.
I went out to photograph with A & H again on Friday. I picked about 15 locations between 72nd Street and 38th Street. The first location was in the 7200 block of South Marshfield Ave where Darryl Dunn, 44, was shot and killed. The block was pretty busy. There were a few older women sitting on porches on the west side of the street. Across the street from the site there were three lots that were under construction. H got out to talk to one of the men working on the lots. It turned out that he had purchased them for $13,500 and was going to build a nice house for his family. He said his brother and cousin all bought lots on the same block. As I photographed a young man walked by A keeping a steady eye on her. She made a comment to him about saying hello if he was going to stare. His eyes lit up, he smiled, and said he was sorry but he did say hello, she must not have heard him. As we rounded the corner to leave you could see the extensive work that would need to be done on the existing house and property the man bought. I wish him the best of luck.
The next location was just a few blocks away in the 7000 block of South Hermitage Ave. where 70-year-old James Evans was found stabbed to death inside his residence. Two white houses that came right out to the sidewalk flanked the blue house that was set back almost a whole lot from the street. The house was hidden behind two large trees and the fence that ran separated the property from the street was covered with overgrowth. The white house on the north side had a plastic carousel horse sitting out front. I saw movement in the house through my lens and moments later a woman came out and began walking towards me. She yelled out from her yard to me, “What is it that you think you’re doing?” I responded that I was photographing for a project addressing youth violence. She said, “Very good” and retreated back into the house. I found out later that Shaudee Nance, 18, was killed on the sidewalk next door to this house less than a month prior to Evans’ stabbing.
At the end of that block there was a small memorial of stuffed animals propped up by the curb on the street. It looked weathered and dirty, like it had been there for quite a long time. The house on the corner that it sat in front of was a small bungalow style home that was all boarded up. I photographed the memorial before we made our way to the next site.
We went to the 7000 block of South Justine where Krystal Rodney was shot and killed outside her grandmother’s house in what is believed to have been a domestic argument. As we drove up I could see an older woman on the porch, presumably her grandmother, and a few children playing around her. I told A & H not to stop. I would come back to this location. The remainder of the short block was thriving with young men and women in their yards and on their front porches.
The following location was where 2-year-old Aniya Crockett died from multiple blunt force traumas resulting from child abuse. The house was on a similarly busy block. A teenage boy was on the front porch reading at the site. As we drove up, a young boy rode into the front yard on his bicycle and glared at us. This is another location I will have to return to. I noticed as we drove away that there was a CeaseFire sticker in the front window that read, “Don’t Shoot. I want to grow up.”
The next location was in the 1600 block of West 64th Street where Andrew Hartrick was shot and killed while he and another man were sitting in a car on the corner beside a vacant lot in a no parking zone marked with yellow pillars. The site was where Paulina hits 64th Street, but there was no thru traffic because of a median sitting at the end of Paulina covered in manicured bushes and several tall trees. On that same corner just south of the vacant lot was a boarded up building. I photographed from across the busy street. One man laughed and yelled out to me as he passed, “Don’t click yet!”
The next site was just two blocks north on the corner of 62nd Street and Paulina where Schirron Hoskins, 18, was killed in a drive-by shooting. The site was in front of a church and across the street from a huge vacant lot. The tree on the corner of the intersection had stuffed animals and balloons around the base and signed poster board encircling the trunk with photographs of him and his friends attached. The area was really quiet when I started photographing. The only people around were a father and his son going to the park on the northeast corner of Paulina. The longer I photographed, the more people started to walk in the direction of the site. Four young men stood on the opposite corner from me and kept their distance. When I was finished and walking towards the car, they walked up to the memorial and circled around it talking and pointing at pictures and some of the writing. They appeared to be close to his age. I wondered whether they were friends of his.
From there we went to the home of 17-year-old Darterius Madison where he was shot and killed outside his home in what appeared to be a gang related incident. Knowing that the victim had gang affiliations made me very nervous about photographing the site of his death. Since he died outside his home, I would have to point my camera at the house that his family still resides in. When we approached the house, which was in the 6300 block of South Hamilton Avenue, I saw that the front door was open. The house that had tan siding with brown trim was two-stories high. There was a nice big newly built porch with a single green plastic chair on it. Each of the posts had a bouquet of flowers hanging from them in conical holders. The houses on the block were all very nice. Most had small yards in the front with flowers and plants adorning them. They looked out onto train tracks that were raised up a small hill across the street. I took a few images with out my tripod so I was not such a spectacle and got back in the car.
Next we tried to photograph the site on the 6200 block of South Laflin Street where Jerry Seals was found with a gunshot wound to the head. We passed when we saw that a large group of young men were hanging out in the front yard of the address. The front of the house had a wheelchair elevator instead of stairs to get on to the porch. One of the young men was holding on to it, arms outstretched, watching us as we passed. As we continued I noticed that the location was only one block from the area police precinct.
At 59th Street and Ashland Avenue, we parked in the M&M Liquor Store parking lot so that I could photograph the intersection where Deandre Murphy’s car came to a stop after he was shot while in a moving vehicle. The intersection was extremely busy with cars and pedestrians. I photographed with my back to the liquor store lot where a large group of people was leaned up against its shaded outside wall. An older man leaned against his car directly behind me and watched as I took my pictures. As we left, a woman came to the window of the car and asked H if he wanted a “square.” H responded, “No honey, we don’t smoke.” We pulled out to venture to the next site.
James Taylor was stabbed to death in the 1700 block of West 51st Street on the sidewalk adjacent to a vacant lot. A & H got out here so that they could keep an eye on me because it was a busy block. I photographed from across the street from the location. Just a few houses down from me a two men sitting on the front steps listening to a small AM/FM radio quickly turned into a larger group. A & H were clearly a hit with them. One young lady walked up to H and asked if he had handcuffs. He replied that he did not, but that he had a gun. The young lady suggested that he give it to the man she had approached the group with. She continued to hit on him and he politely declined her advances. She told him that she had 18 babies and each one was a different nationality. I don’t know if that was true, but wow! When I was done, I pulled A & H away from their new friends and we got back into the car.
Just down the street along a bright yellow fence was a little cart run by a Hispanic man and woman. We stopped there to get lunch, Elotes and mango slices with lemon juice and salt. H spoke to them in Spanish while A and I tried to translate.
We headed west across 51st Street to May and made a right onto a cul-de-sac. The afternoon was absolutely beautiful and everyone on this block was taking advantage of the nice weather. There was a man selling sno-cones from a folding table in front of his building, a few groups of people on porches, some teenage girls walking down the street, and a man walking his dog. The man who was walking his dog walked up the stairs to the address next to the site of Terrance Dishman’s death. A asked the man something about his dog and they continued to converse for the duration of my photographing while H tried to make conversation with the men on the porch behind me. The building next door to them was boarded up. H asked them if it ever gave them any problems. They responded that every time they board up the door someone comes and kicks it in again. As we were driving off the block a man parked in his car on the side of the road stuck his head out of the car and asked us if we were there to photograph the foreclosures. H said, “No, we’re the police.” The man nodded and we continued on our way. After we left, A said she asked the man with the dog about the homicide. He told her he didn’t want to talk about it.
The next site was where 21-month-old Jaymeon Wyatt was killed from blunt head trauma resulting from abuse. The address, in the 100 block of East 49th Street, was in a large yellow brick apartment building. The building, which took up about half a block, sat across from an equally large paved, gated off empty lot. There were two men sitting on the stoop of one of the building’s entrances. They seemed to be interested in what I was doing, but didn’t ask any questions. There was a “For Rent” sign on the first floor window.
Our last location for the day was in the 4300 block of South Federal where 39-year-old Bennie Madison was shot and killed. The site was just east of the under-pass for the expressway at the mouth of a newly paved street on the backside of a large complex of condos that look like they are still under construction. Across the street was a baseball field. While 43rd Street was busy with traffic, the mouth of Federal was closed off with large construction barriers. The lack of thru traffic made it a quiet and serene place and that is where our day ended, eerily peaceful amongst all the ghosts of violence.