Our Sense of Safety was Shattered Once Again on March 18, 2012

Late March 17th the usual criminal behavior at the corner of Madison and Mason was heating up around 10:00 PM. I made what has become an evening ritual of dialing 911. The drug sales, drinking and drug use had picked up like  clock work .. some sick version of the dooms day clock.  I made the call at 10:16 PM and shortly after that,  intentionally let it go and went to bed.    We were awakened around 12:30 AM on Sunday March 18th by the sound of shouting and gunfire. This all too familiar sound brought back  strong memories of the last incident of shots fired on our block.  Once again the un-checked criminality starting at that corner Madison and Mason erupted with gangs of people moving through the neighborhood, shouting and firing weapons.  This time they started at Madison and Mason and marched up Mayfield to Washington where several shots were fired. After 911 calls at 12:32 AM and 12:41 AM we finally saw police cars arrive. They canvassed the neighborhood and this time were successful in making two arrests of perpetrators still walking the streets. I’m sure normally they had little to fear but this time was different. They were caught.  As several of our neighbors came out to make sure action was taken, we stood on the targeted corner until at least 1:30 AM in a not so smart act of defiance and strange therapeutic conversation.  We talked using colorful language and descriptive words about how we were certain every elected official responsible for Austin was sleeping soundly in their beds on safe and secure blocks where this type of crime is not allowed.  We strategized about  how we intended to help them undertand how we feel come the next election.  We talked with a neighbor Ms Brown who was consoling her mother and aunt who had just been dropped off. They were in tears because their car while still occupied was hit by gunfire. The bullet struck the car on the passenger side approximately where a vehicle sticker would be placed. The elderly mother was lucky that the bullet did not completely penetrate the windshield

We listened as Ms Brown described her mother as the Angel of the family and how disturbing the idea that she could have been lost that night. There was at least one other car with bullet damage and who knows where all the other shots finally landed.  We all talked and talked and slowly felt a little better. All of us however were keenly aware that next time we may not be so lucky. Why that corner Madison and Mason is allowed to fester unchecked has become a failure indicative of forgotten neighborhoods, throw away people, political incompetence and institutional racism that permeates our local government. Preventative policing is a foreign term  and broken windows theory is given lip service only. The official line from the city and police department is that they have enough resources and deploy them fairly; we feel differently and the data backs us up prompting action from us and the ACLU.   Expenditures in hosting NATO and support for safety and security in other countries seem more important than our neighborhood here in Chicago.   Even a simple no-parking sign to limit activity at that corner has been turned into a power struggle with potential life and death consequences.  Accountability means bullshit in Austin.


  1 comment for “Our Sense of Safety was Shattered Once Again on March 18, 2012

  1. Daycare Owner
    July 24, 2012 at 6:00 pm


    I was catching up on some of my email and saw this article. Currently, I am going through something with the 15th District police department and a person who has been harassing me on my block. The problems with harassment started a few years ago. This person and his friends use the front of my house as a dumping ground and every time I get my grass cut or whenever I am home, he and his friends dump all kinds of trash and broken glass over my fence. The last incident of this happened on June 10th and I was successful in FINALLY getting a police report, after I have never been able to get one several times before when I called police and they either failed to show up or showed up and did nothing.

    I even have VIDEO of police coming to my house and not making any arrests after a mob gathered in front of my house when a thug was told NOT TO URINATE IN MY FRONT YARD.

    I don’t live in my house full time, as I work out of town and am home either only once or twice a month. I have had to resume my professional job after attempting to start an educational program for children at the site of my home. I built a lovely program, with a unique curriculum and became a licensed provider for pre-K children through the state of Illinois, but I have been yet to be able to operate my program due to all of the trash that is constantly being thrown over the fence of my residence, which sits on 2 lots.

    I believe I am being harassed by neighborhood thugs because I am a young single female who has her stuff together and does not waste any of her time responding to the inappropriate comments made by the thugs who inhabit my block. I am the youngest homeowner on my block (under 40) and own 2 properties there, and I am very well educated. The reason I purchased property in the area was for my mother, who died shortly after I bought her the properties and the market has been so bad that I am waiting to sell both properties.

    However, I still deal with the trash and will be going to court in a few weeks to see what a judge might be able to do about this. The police who came to my house about a late night/early morning dumping at my house, refused to make an arrest, even though the perpetrator walked back and forth in front of my property several times while the police were there. I happened to be home and saw when he dumped between 5 and 6 big hefty bags of trash over my fence and broke beer bottles on my fence. The police told me twice that they were not going to arrest the perpetrator because there were only 2 officers and there were many more of the perp and his friends. They refused to call for backup. They did, however, run his plate number after I identified his car. The police also gave me incorrect information about how the perp would be apprehended.

    I went to Grand and Central to get a warrant and even the warrant officer there seemed to not want to get the matter in front of a judge. The detective that finally contacted me after I blew up the phone of the 15th District Commander discouraged me from pursuing the arrest of my harasser. It’s as if no one wants anyone on my block to be arrested and I actually heard a rumor that this might be true, considering the current First Deputy Officer, who was once the police commander of my district, grew up across the street from my house and his family still lives there. I was told that there is so much breeding between the families on this block and everyone is somehow related to each other through a baby here and there, that this thug who has been vandalizing my property with trash, might even be related, somehow and is thus, immune from any kind of prosecution. If this is true, my hopes of getting this harasser out of my life, will never come true and he will feel that there will never be recourse for anything he does to me.

    I’m tired of feeling like a victim at a place where I pay taxes and is supposed to be a home for me. I’m also tired of the elected officials in my area not doing anything or responding after people reach out to them. The politicians in my area are absolutely useless…

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