It's currently 3:54 AM in Chicago. I should be sleeping right now, trying to fight off the cold that has plagued me for the past few days. Everything about my night was fairly typical. Played some video games, listened to some political commentary, fed my cats, and got ready for bed. I drifted off to the sound of some meditation music I recently purchased.
Sadly, fate would not have me stay asleep.
I woke up to one of the loudest sounds I ever heard. And yet, without ever hearing a real gun fire before, I knew that someone was shooting another human being right outside my building.
It's hard to string together what I was feeling at the time. Still is. There was a numbness that permeated me. After all, it's hard to truly feel the impact of a singular shooting when my city is the grim record holder in the nation. But I knew I had to look out my window. I knew I had to see what had happened. It took me a few minutes, but I dragged myself out of bed to see the aftermath.
People were screaming. Cars were honking their horns. Cops had already walled off the block with yellow tape. Ambulances were nearby, and a group of investigators were shining a bright flashlight over a crumpled body. No telling if it was a corpse by that point. The lack of urgency in their movements suggested that it was (thankfully, it was not). A line of people then walked past the crime scene, the leader carrying a large American flag.
I've remained largely silent on the issues Chicago has been facing. And while it's true that I have not lived the violence like those on the South and West sides, it has gotten too close for comfort at times. A few years back, I lived by the Wilson Red Line station. There was at least one shooting that occurred at the train station while I was there, which was only three blocks away from me. The city decided to renovate the station. Maybe they thought a new coat of paint would cover up the violence.
Earlier this year, there was a shooting at the Clark and Division Red Line station, which is less than two blocks from me. The police performed a sting operation since the shooting was drug related. Some people were arrested, and that was seemingly the end of it.
But the body in front of me told a different story.
There are a lot of discussions that can come from this blog post. The merits of gun control, the War on Drugs, policing, etc. All of the political pundits will bend the situation to fit their own needs.
As for me? I'm calling out Rahm Emanuel and all of the people in the Chicago government for failing to stem the tide of violence. I can't believe how long this plague has continued to infect the city. It's easy to forget the families and the lives lost on the South and West sides because of the constant shootings happening everyday. Yet they're made all too real when someone is shot outside your own building.
I'm not sure how to feel about Trump winning the election, but I hope that he makes good on his promise to help the people of the inner cities. I'm no expert on every issue faced by people who live in urban areas, but I do know that help is needed. And fast. Because this early morning was just a glimpse at the horror that will take over the city if something isn't done soon.