Wednesday, September 1, 2010
The Cop Diet
I just realized that I have been on a cop diet. To me the quintessential cop diet consists of coffee, donuts, and hot dogs. That just about covers what I have been eating lately since I have spent most of my days driving around with police officers. X picked me up at 8 on Monday morning. It’s no surprise that we stopped at McDonald’s for coffee and breakfast.
We headed back to the Dunkin’ Donuts/Carwash/gas station on Pulaski where Cesar Rosales was shot and killed hoping to get there before it was too busy. We were still trying to figure out what exactly the circumstance of the incident there was. We know he was an employee of the car wash, but don’t know exactly where he was shot. We went inside the DD and asked the woman at the counter if she knew what happened. She seemed pretty reluctant to talk about it, but told us that it happened at the car wash and pointed in the opposite direction to the sidewalk in north side of the complex. We decided it was too busy to photograph there anyway, so we would come back at another time, ask some more people, and get to the bottom of it.
From there we headed south to the 3100 block of West Washington where Alan Penny’s girlfriend allegedly doused him in gasoline and lit him on fire. Penny’s house was a red brick two-flat with huge porches stretching out the front on both floors. It sat next door to a brand new construction four-unit condo building. At least one of the units was still for sale. Next to that was another new construction condo building with the Cubs white and blue “W” flag hanging from the 3rd floor Juliet balcony. While Penny’s house looked a bit run down being juxtaposed with the new construction, there was no sign of the fire. Directly in front of the house was a car with a bullet hole in the body right above the front passenger side tire. Across the street was a vacant lot that looked onto a series of other vacant lots all the way through to the green line.
The next site we visited was the residence of Jonathan Jackson, the 5-year-old boy that was accidentally shot by his twin brother. The building is the only one on the west side of the 700 block of South California. Three of the four corners of the intersection approaching the building were vacant lots. It was a nice brick two-flat with steel porches off the back. As we drove up on it, we saw a huge mural had been painted onto the north side of the building. It read, “RIP LIL JOHN.” There was a beautiful portrait of the boy beneath the lettering. No one was out except a few people sitting on plastic buckets in the vacant lot on one corner and a meter maid that was making her way down the street.
We proceeded to the 1200 block of South Pulaski where Parnell Shumate was shot and killed behind a Taquería in a small park that is smooched between the alley and the CAA Academy. There was a small memorial comprised of a pink teddy bear, a candle, and an empty bottle of 1800 tequila for him around the base of a tree, a bright yellow poster board that had been signed taped around the trunk. There were also a few deflated balloons hung on trees and fences surrounding the area. On the wall of the Academy just beyond the memorial was a mural of influential African Americans throughout history. Above their portraits it said, “I am from the great role models that I will one day be.”
We continued south to the 4500 block of South Western Avenue where an unidentified woman was killed. I still have to do research into the circumstances of her death. This part of Western Avenue is boulevard style with a huge grassy median. On the west side at the address was an empty lot that was fenced off with a huge billboard sticking up that said the land was for lease. Right across the street was a small corner bar that had a $3 martini Fridays. I will update here when I find out more about this incident.
We went from there to the 3300 block of South Ashland where Allen Olivia, 19, was walking when he was approached from behind, struck over the head with a bat and stabbed several times. The exact location was in front of a store that X couldn’t quite figure out. On the sign it had a line of Asian writing under which it said Sigma & Associates, but it appeared that they were selling cell phones, it was kind of unclear. Just north of the address was one of X’s favorite fast food joints, The Patio Drive-Thru.
The next site was in the 700 block of East Pershing Road where 18-year-old Jamonie Richards was shot and killed. This block of Pershing has a huge park with baseball fields, tennis courts, and a nicely landscaped sitting area on the south side of the street. On the north side there is a set of new brick row houses. The address appeared to be on the street in front of a large vacant lot surrounded by a fence just east of the houses. A group of men were playing chess on a board propped up on a garbage can across the street in front of one of the park entrances. Woman and men in business clothes past me as I photographed. As X and I pulled out of the alley we were parked in, I saw a memorial in the median a little ways east of where I was photographing. X said the address estimation was pretty bad and that the streets always know more than the cops. We re-parked and I photographed the new, correct location.
We left there and got onto the expressway, got off at Belmont and headed to the 4900 block of West School Street where Miguel Vasquez was shot and killed while sitting on his front porch. The block looked like much of the north side of Chicago, a mix of three flats interspersed with single-family homes on sunny tree lined streets. The only house that stuck out as different was Vasquez’s. It appeared to be empty. The front window was broken and boarded over (maybe from a bullet or from his fall), there was a note on the front door (No trespassing by order of the bank. Violators will be prosecuted.), and the bottom of the door on the second floor leading out to a small porch was disintegrating. X thought maybe it was abandoned before the incident, but Vasquez’s name was on one of the mailboxes next to the front door. The only sign of life was a ceiling fan rotating on the second floor. X and I went up on the porch after I was done photographing to take a look. There was something red splattered on the floor there. At first we thought it might have been blood, but with a closer look we saw that it was melted candy.
From there we went to the 4100 block of North Albany where Alexander Mercado, 16, was shot and killed while sitting in a car in a no parking zone in front of a fire hydrant. There was a bed of perennials planted around the light post next to the hydrant. Just down the street, workmen were carrying large sheets of glass across the street. Other than them, no one was around. As I photographed, a little girl peaked her head out of the windows of one of the houses. Her father came and peaked his head out over hers and told her to come back inside.
Our last location for the day was in the 2300 block of North Keeler Avenue where Angel Rebolledo was shot and killed while standing out on the street with some friends. A young boy was riding a razor scooter up and down the sidewalk in front of a line of single-family homes. I began to photograph the site and people began to come out of their houses on to their front porches. The boy went into the house next door to the exact location and came out with his mother. A young girl came out onto the porch of the house on the opposite side. When I turned around I saw people standing on three of the porches of houses behind me. No one really seemed to be paying attention to me, but it was obvious that they came out to see what I was doing. No one asked me any questions. As we loaded back into the car, people started retreating back into their houses and the young boy went back to riding his scooter up and down the block.