12 November 2008

9 tales of the city

there's this story circulating around town. a story in which two girls who were walking home late last wednesday night, november 5th, were attacked by a pack of men on a side street off fullerton. one of the girls got away, ran up the street into a conveniently close hostel and roused a gang of internationals to go back and rescue the other girl. everybody lived. some money, bracelets and a really cute purse were lost. the writer's conclusion is that we should always take cabs and should not carry big bags or go out after dark.

it's great to read a story like that, put together all the coordinates and realize it was set on the street where you live.

last night on the train, during violent tales story time, LM and i talked about this. we pieced together that this story had been passed to us both as something that had happened to a friend of a friend. we quickly dismissed it as an urban legend.

a girl across the car quickly chimed in it wasn't. she had heard this too. she also lived on that street. and like pretty much everyone alive of a certain age and income bracket in chicago, she often stayed out too late and walked home alone rather than pay for cabs. we had all heard it, she said, so it had to be true.

i don't know if this actually happened. it probably did, but what are we supposed to do with it? a barrage of emails from friends who were apparently also friends of this friend's friends hit my inbox warning me to leave my leopard print bag at home. the concern was touching, but that isn't really an option. a day's worth of snacks will not fit in a clutch.

in a token nod to personal safety, this morning i tossed the good old mace into my ginormous bag, but since i'm not entirely sure how to operate it this was more about giving myself the appearance of having worried about my safety rather than an indicator of actual worry.

because it's lincoln park, not cabrini green. and that's a cop-out, i know, but this is where we live and you can't truly live if you spend every minute freaking out about spooks in the dark.

that girl on the train said she was now afraid to leave her apartment after 5 p.m. it was 5:22 when she said this. walking home, i saw her. she was running down the street like a banshee, looking over her shoulder, deathly afraid.


Les Savy Ferd said...

I've been meaning to run my trap on this email. I've already said most of this to Croftie. And I have some perspective, having been robbed at gun point a block from my home in the even 'safer' Oldtown neighborhood.


I'm not sure that the email is a fake, but you need to consider the following things. The 'narrator' of the email herself admits several times that she and her friend did a bunch things wrong. I'm not blaming the victim. In a perfect world you could all be blitzed and hobble around your block at 4 in the morning and little birdies would be singing. But the more people you cram into an urban space, the more chances there are that one of those people is going to be desperate enough to commit a crime.

What I am saying is there is living and working and playing in your neighborhood in the big city and then there is being foolish.

People who prey on others have specific targets in mind. They know how to maximize potential and minimize risk. A lone person on a dark street who is distracted or not altogether with it may as well have giant 'Pick Me!' sign illuminated over their head.

For me, it was dark and rainy and nobody was around. My neighborhood has lots of skinny alleys and hidey holes. I was on my cell-phone and had an umbrella obscuring half of the world around me. And even then the dude was quick and efficient and not trying to make a scene, just making a quick buck, the old-fashioned way.

Here's a list of the less intelligent things the girls in the story did:

a) were out past 1:00am. the adage nothing good happens after midnight is sound. I'm not saying you shouldn't ever party after the witching hour but for God's sake understand that you are increasing your risk.

b) they had been drinking. No mention as to how much. But still, you are not completely yourself. All the more reason to take further precautions. I can only assume that having been drinking the girls were louder and more conspicuous as well.

c) They passed up on a cab. Seriously, it's late and you've been drinking. You can afford the small fare.

d) they then passed up on walking with friends. Maybe guy friends? I'm sorry but the more people the safer. And yes, it's sexist, but thieves will target girls first because they are generally weaker/have more jewelry, etc.

e) They fought back against their attackers! Jesus H! If this crime actually happened in the area it was supposed to have, there are going to be witnesses and bystanders eventually no matter what the hour. Just give them what they want and don't be stupid.

Now I know there is a chance that things might progress from a mere mugging to something much worse, but like i said, there is a world of difference between these two crimes, and a vast percentage of criminals simply aren't going to take the risk and upgrade their already poor decision to include assault and or rape. Most criminals aren't stupid and know what they can get away with over and over again and what will send them to prison for a very long time.

Now I'm not saying a person should just roll over. And quick thinking ain't an option, because stuff like this happens so fast. Just know your attackers will respond in kind.

By no means to I want to downplay the unfortunate circumstance of the victims. this sucks, and is horrible and the people involved need comfort and peace of mind.

And as I said before, it would be nice if none of these things ever happened. But they do, and it is my opinion they happen for a reason and can be largely avoided. There is always the wrong place wrong time, but you can take steps to minimize the chances that you are the 'you' in that phrase.

We live in a big awesome city with so much richness and greatness. You simply cannot allow others to rule the way you live and it is asinine to restrict your behavior during the day or at times when there is a very low likelihood that something bad is going to happen. you can't be worried all the time.

oline said...


Daniel Noah said...

This is the first I have heard of this story but I have to say, I am intrigued. I completely agree with the fact that if you worry about everything in life you often forget to live. Great story Oline.

Meggie said...

Dude, wow...

A girl got stabbed to death in Bicentennial Park but she was drunk and walking through it at 2 a.m.

That said, I will still walk around downtown on my own. I live for foolishness.

Just don't stop and let the homeless men shine your shoes. *laughs*

oline said...

here's the story:

Hello Everyone -

I know some of you have heard already...and whether you have or not, I feel that it is very important that I pass along this story to you in hopes that you pass it along to everyone else that you know. Something terrible happened to my friend and I the other night and I want to spread the word so that the same thing doesn't happen to anyone else. I know that you hear stories about things like this often, and think that it would never happen to you - I certaintly didn't expect this to happen to me, but I'm telling you from first hand experience, it was the most terrifying thing that I have ever experienced in my entire life.

On Wednesday, November 5, 2008 my friend Erin and I went out for the evening in the Lincoln Park area (Chicago). After going to the bars we went to get something to eat with a few other people, not far from my apartment. Erin and I left the restaurant to walk home - around 1:00 am - we didn't think it was necessary to take a cab - the weather was really nice and we were only a few short blocks from my apartment. Our friends offered to walk with us, but again, not thinking it necessary because I have done that walk a million times.

We are walking and talking, now only about a block and a half from my place, we are right next to the church I attend in a really nice neighborhood with huge expensive houses. (What I'm trying to show is that this can happen ANYWHERE) The next thing I know, Erin is grabbed from behind and a guy appears in front of me - inches from my face - and grabs me by the arms holding my shoulders and arms against my sides. It all happened in a split second, out of no where. There were 5 guys that surrounded us, they must have been hiding in between parked cars and bushes next to the sidewalk. Somehow I manage to break free from the guy's grip but he grabs me and pulls my arms behind me. Again somehow I break free, lose my shoes and start running. He is chasing after me. I briefly look behind me and see Erin on the ground with 4 of the guys holding her down. She is screaming for me and struggling. The hardest thing I ever did was to keep running. I didn't even have time to think, but my body's initial reaction was just to RUN, RUN FOR HELP NOW. I knew that if I stayed to help her it was going to do no good....2 girls and 5 guys are terrible odds. I felt so guilty leaving her, but I had to get help. So I ran faster than I ever have in my entire life. I remembered that there was a hostel right around the corner. I ran into the hostel and as I'm screaming and crying tell the guys working we had just been attacked. 2 of them run to get Erin and 1 stayed with me while I called 911. Within a minute the the police and ambulance showed up. I was escorted back to the scene a few minutes later - still terrified and in shock of what had happened...and so terrified to see Erin. As I approached I could see blood all over the sidewalk. Inside the ambulence, Erin is covered in blood. In the stuggle, her body is scratched and scraped and bruised, and her hair is soaked with blood. Her head was hit against the sidewalk.

We spent the entirety of the rest of that night and morning in the emergency room. I only had gashed my foot open from running, but Erin sustained a decent sized gash and had to get 5 staples in her head. We both had to get tetnus shots as well. Luckily, physically we were ok for the most part, but the emotional trauma from that experience is one far greater than I can explain. We are both still absolutely terrified and traumatized from what has happened. You feel so violated and helpless. I am terrified to walk anywhere anymore, even in daylight. I shouldn't have to feel that way in my own neighborhood.

The next day we went back to the scene to try to put the pieces together. You can still see blood on the sidewalk. We were able to find a few of Erin's bracelets and her headband, but nothing else. I also noticed the Priest from my church and another woman outside the church talking. I went to tell them the story so that they could inform the neighborhood. They mentioned to me that lately ours and other surrounding neighborhoods have been targeted. There was a woman in the neighborhood who was pulling in to her garage, at NOON - daylight! she had her 2 little children in the car, and as she pulled into her garage and the garage door was closing, 3 men rolled underneath the door and were shut into the garage with her and her children. They robbed her at gun point. This happened at noon, broad daylight, in Lincoln Park. The last thing anyone would expect. PLEASE PLEASE PROTECT YOURSELVES.

I wanted to tell everyone what happened to me because I would never want this same thing to happen to anyone else. I think I just got a little too comfortable with my surroundings and gained this false sense of security that "It won't happen to me," "It won't happen in this neighborhood," etc. etc. etc.

What I think attracted the guys to us is that Erin was carrying a large purse. I don't even know if they saw my purse because it was a small, black hand clutch, but Erin had a large light colored shoulder bag. This may have made us easy targets. Girls please think about then when going out at night.

For girls and guys both you never know. Crazy people do crazy things, and especially as this economy is so bad right now....people are getting desperate and will do terrible, cowardly things to get money or whatever it is they need. Protect yourself and your friends.

NEVER WALK ALONE. Never walk at night - I'm telling you...the $7 cab ride is worth it.

Please pass this message along to everyone you know.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.....I hope it was an eye opener, cause it certainly flipped my life around and the decisions I will make in the future.

God Bless you all.

Meggie said...


First thought: If you don't pass this on to 10 of your closest friends, you will NEVER meet your true love!!!

oline said...

i just laughed way louder than you're supposed to laugh while at work.

Meggie said...

Hey, I'm good for inappropriate laughter at work. Not the first time I've inspired it!

taramoon333 said...

Yesterday on the bus I saw a flyer for a beautiful latina girl, ripe age of 15 y/o. who has been missing since Nov. 5. She was last seen getting off the bus at Halsted and Armitage at 7:20am.

Crazy shit can happen anywhere, anytime. I agree with ferd up there. Protect yourself, try to make smart choices, take a self defense class. But I refuse to not walk at night or to live in fear.