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.