I went out to photograph with H again today. We covered nine sites in the area between 91st Street and 78th Street on the east side of the Skyway. The first site was a residence in the 8900 block of South Burley Avenue where Adrian Cantor was shot and killed. The houses on the west side of the street faced a field attached to an elementary school where there were kids, led by their teacher, playing in the grass. A teenage boy passed me while I was photographing. We said good morning to each other. He asked me if I was shooting a rap video. I laughed and said, “I wish.” He walked up the stairs of the house next door
and sat on the porch.
Jaime Ramirez was shot and killed in mid-August just a few blocks away on the same street. The address where Ramirez was shot brought us to the sidewalk in front of a church. The spot was marked with a memorial of 10-15 religious candles and a few ribbons tied around a telephone pole. The church had a gate around it and signs indicating that it had a surveillance system and alarm. There was virtually no traffic on the street so I had my tripod set up in the street. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a car coming towards me. I pulled up my equipment and moved a bit to the side. The car came to a stop right where I was standing. In it were three ladies, a little boy, and a little girl. They were all laughing. The driver said, “Sorry if we scared you, we were just playing.” I smiled. They asked what I was doing and I explained that someone had been shot and killed here and that I was taking pictures. The women, who I assume lived close by, had no idea about the homicide. The lady in the passenger seat said she knows how many sites I have to visit and said, “Don’t worry it will be over soon.” She handed me a pamphlet that said “All suffering soon to end.” I thanked her and they went on their way. As they pulled off, I saw H looking at me to make sure I was ok. I nodded and continued photographing. When I got back into the car I realized that the empty lot were parked
next to across the street from the church had a foundation that was almost completely hidden by overgrowth. H said they must have started building and ran out of money.
The next site, also close by, was in the 9000 block of South Commercial Avenue. Commercial Avenue, aptly named, was a bustling street full of shops. Johnny Taylor was shot and killed on the sidewalk in front of a currency exchange. The currency exchange was next door to a shop that sold everything from backpacks with cartoon characters on them to balloons. There was a man standing outside who greeted me and promptly retreated into the store. At one point a man with a grill strapped to the back of his bike rode down the sidewalk. Soon after another man on a bike rode in front of me and said, “Take my picture.” I thought it was so great that the people in this neighborhood were so friendly.
From here we went to the 8400 block of South Cregier Avenue where Paul Garrette was shot and killed in a backyard. The block was full of small bungalows. The house where Garrette was killed looked like someone was home. The front door was ajar and the windows were all open. We pulled around the back in the alley. Men were working on the back of the house next door. I covertly took some pictures and hurried back to the car.
Just a few streets over in the 8400 block of Euclid Avenue both Michael Chatman and Reginald Riley were shot and killed in the street on the first of August. The site was in front of a large house that took up an entire lot with another lot surrounded by a
wooden fence next to it for a yard. A shiny Cadillac with big tires and sparkling silver rims sat out front. The block was quiet. Everyone must have been at school and work.
On our way to the next site, I noticed some houses that had metal shutters pulled down over their windows. H said it was not too uncommon. People like to have them to prevent burglary and so they don’t lose their windows in case of gunfire. The only time I have seen this before is on houses by the beach to protect the windows from storms and heavy winds.
Next we went to a CITGO in the 2900 block of East 83rd Street where 17-year-old Cojuan Harper was shot and killed when two people wearing hooded sweatshirts approached him and opened fire. The gas station was right across the street from a church on one corner and an elementary school on another.
From there we went to the 8200 block of South Muskegon Avenue where 41-year-old Richard McGill was shot and killed on the porch at the address. The house was a large single family home with a big porch. There were quite a few houses in the vicinity that X calls abandos. A car was parked behind the house, on the grass, near the mouth of the alley. The only person around was the mailman who was weaving up and down front walks to the houses just south of us.
We made our way from there to the 7800 block of South Essex Avenue where Kemanuel Montgomery was stabbed by a homeless man who had had an argument with one of his family members. This block of Essex was lined with three and four story apartment buildings. There were people everywhere. The site where Montgomery was stabbed was in front of a laundry mat that appeared to be closed for business. Although there were a lot of people around, the site was empty. As quiet as the images may appear, as I was photographing, a group of men sitting by a house on the opposite side of the intersection were yelling at each other.
The last site we visited was on the 7300 block of South Cornell Avenue where Tufan Muhammed was shot and killed. Although it was a small side street, the immediate area was very busy with people. A group of three men were leaning on a gate in front of the building across the street from the address. As soon as I pulled out my camera, one of the men walked away quickly. He passed H and told him that he was afraid of the camera. He said he didn’t even let them take pictures of him for the yearbook in high school. The man stayed out of the view of the camera, but looked on. He asked if it was for the guy who got killed there. H nodded. He said, “I knew that guy. That was some crazy shit.” As we finished up he walked over to another group that was sitting just down the street on plastic shipping crates in front of a large abandoned lot.
What I have left to photograph
Including today, I have been to 97 of the 167 sites.
Including today, I have been to 97 of the 167 sites.