Sunday, October 12, 2008

Hyde Park These Days - More Depressing Thoughts

Taking a brief break from obsessing over my job/career/personal woes, I can't stop obsessing about the recent attack on a young woman in the lobby of her apartment building one block down from our apartment. To follow a woman into the lobby of an apartment building with a 24 hour guard and security cameras, drag her past the doors of her neighbors and into some conveniently unlocked and empty garbage room is terrifyingly bold. Even worse is that the guard apparently saw them together but thought nothing of it. (?????) And a neighbor heard a scream but, hearing nothing thereafter, thought nothing of it. And how did this guy know where to drag her? It's bad enough that he was bold enough to attempt this but that he got away with it is even harder to believe.

The whole thing gives me the creeps and I can't stop thinking about it. She was my little sister's age. So many ways that this could have turned out with a better ending. I keep envisioning alternative scenarios where she beats the crap out of this guy. Or pulls out a small handgun and shoots the punk in the head. Or the security guard or neighbor decides to see what's going on (as a reasonable person might have). Nothing depresses me more than the dark reality of male testosterone gone awry and citizens bent on minding their own business. She too easily could have been me.

And just 5 days before that a medical employee was seriously injured in an attempted robbery at 54th and Ellis. Not to mention all the robberies that seem to go on in broad daylight around here. (My mom reads the crime reports diligently and gives me the run down.) And the never ending stream of news headlines about another Chicago Public School student shot or stabbed to death, including the breathtakingly sad and random murder this month of a 17 year old on a bus (at Woodlawn and 71st). And, of course, the tragic killing of Amadou Cisse last year.

I know the attack on the young woman last week is one anecdote that must be put into perspective, but it does seem that Chicago is suffering from some unfortunately high rates of crime. Our crime rate in Hyde Park seems to echo that of Chicago on the whole. And Chicago's hypersegregation doesn't seem to help.* This CBS article says that more people were shot in Chicago last summer than U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq. Murder on the whole appears to be up. This 2003 article says that not since 1967 has Chicago managed to pass a year with less than 600 murders. Rape statistics are much dodgier - according to Wikipedia there were none in Chicago for 2006 - so it's easier to focus on violent crime.

I know that Hyde Park is relatively sheltered and I am for the most part going about my daily life as usual. But the recent events have just added to my feeling of general gloom. Just thought I'd share the good cheer.

*When I listened to the This American Life radio version of the story on Chicago's Wiener Circle I found it startling but when I saw the tv version I found it nauseating. The final scene is some nasty stuff. And the recent antics of McCain supporters simply echoes this uncomfortable truth about race in this country. Living in Hyde Park/Chicago has made me think about race much more than I ever did while living in Portland/Seattle. I'm familiar with white vs. Mexican/Native American tensions. Black vs. white issues seem much darker, sadder and more hopeless.


vj said...

Carrying on our conversation on campus, check out the site below -

It tells a very scary tale about the distribution of crimes across zip codes. They are all more or less downtown.

The main people who use these sites nowadays are prospective home buyers. A friend of mine knows the people who built this site, that why I had asked you for the source of your information


MaybeMBA said...

Hmmm. I did see that site but not that part. Very interesting.