Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Car Trouble, Vietnam Vets & Police Officers
X had some car trouble this morning so he was about an hour late to pick me up. At about 9 o’clock I hopped into his car and as we turned the corner his car overheated. We got it going and headed to his dad’s house. X’s father very generously agreed to trade cars with him for the day. While we were waiting for him to come home, we went and got some DD coffee and went to see if we could photograph at the site where Julio Castrumita was shot and killed. As we approached the address on the 2800 block of West Pershing, we saw there were four young men and one boy sitting on the porch. Again, we would have to come back another time.
Back at X’s dad’s house, we traded cars and were on our way. Our first location was the site where Officer Thor Soderberg was shot and killed with his own gun in the police station parking lot on the 6100 block of South Racine Avenue. The parking lot had two long aisles filled with police vehicles. A high fence surrounded it. Just south of the lot was a school and across the street was a vacant lot that was gated off. As I was waiting for the lot to clear out, an older gentleman walked over to us and started talking to X. He wanted to chat with X about what the police are doing in his neighborhood and what he thinks the solution to the problems are. He was also a teacher and was interested in my camera for his students. They continued to talk as I photographed. When I was done, they bid farewell. The gentleman had served in Vietnam. X thanked him for his service.
Our next location was where Jerry Seals was shot and killed in the 6200 block of South Laflin. I was there just over a week ago and we had to pass it because there were a group of young men hanging out in the front yard of the address. This time there was a young man leaning against the fence in front of the site. As X and I got out and walked across the street, the young man hurried into a car that was parked in front and took off. X laughed because he said the car door wasn’t even closed before they were gone. There was a huge wrought iron Statue of Liberty on his front door. There was a group of young men on a porch a few houses down. They didn’t express any interest in knowing what I was doing there.
Next we went to the 6000 block of South Cottage Grove Avenue where Damien Turner was shot and killed. He was killed on the corner of a busy intersection in front of a section of the Grove Park Plaza Apartments near a CTA bus stop. The shell for the bus stop had a billboard on it that read, “Don’t wait until it’s gone.”
The next site was in the alley at 6400 South Ingleside Avenue. The buildings on the block were extremely nice. They looked like they were old brick and grey stone three flats. Most were very well taken care of with the exception of the 5 or 6 that were boarded up. A few of those that were abandoned were being worked on. Sounds of construction echoed down the block. Larry Johnson was killed in the alley behind the only building on the block that sat next to a vacant lot. The lot had a well-trod dirt path between the alley and the street. While I was photographing, a homeless man was going through the garbage a few houses down and a scrapper was picking up some refuse at the mouth of the alley.
From there we went to the corner of 75th Street and South Cottage Grove Avenue where Credale Woulard was shot and killed outside a Currency Exchange. It was a busy corner, so I had to time my pictures to get them free of cars and people. My camera was all set up and I was waiting for the light to change when two young men pulled up. They posed for me and asked me to take a picture. Here they are.
Just a few blocks away in the 7400 block of South Evans was the site where Officer Michael Bailey was shot and killed while cleaning his car near his home on July 18th. The house was just a block away from a school. Many of the houses were boarded up on the street. The lot right next to the site was vacant. There was a small memorial for Officer Bailey in the grassy area between the sidewalk and the street made up of a stone cross, a few American flags, a vase that must have once had flowers in it, and a small stuffed teddy bear holding a heart. Just down the street a group of young men were talking loudly on the porch.
Our next location was at the end of the 7400 block of South Kenwood Avenue where Roger Kizer was shot and killed in the street. There was a one-story brick block building on the corner with a sign that said, “See English.” Behind that was the backside of a garage that had white vinyl siding. Adjacent to that was a single family home that had been boarded up. While I was photographing I could see a woman out of the corner of my eye watching me from behind a fence in her front yard. Kizer lived on that block. I wondered whether the woman was a friend of his or maybe a relative.
Before we finished for the day, we thought we would try for two more locations. The first was where Jaime Sanchez-Negrete was beaten to death and found in the backyard of a house in the 5800 block of South California. X and I went there the last time we were out, but there were people in the next-door neighbor’s backyard. This time, all was quiet. There was no garage for this house; instead there was a pull in where there were two cars parked. There was laundry hanging from lines in the backyard where the neighbors were sitting last time. As I finished my last few shots, a neighbor came out of their backdoor to see what I was up to. They didn’t ask any questions. They just looked on.
The last thing we did before calling it a day was to go back to the house in the 2800 block of West Pershing again to see if the people were still out on the porch. They were. This time one of them was reading the paper and the young boy was gone. Once again, we would have to come back.