CHICAGO — What you are about to see is a preview of coming attractions this summer.
But this is not a movie, this is a real-life American city.
“I can’t be out here without the store being open,” a man said while filming himself with his phone in front of a convenience store in West Englewood on Thursday. “I need somewhere to duck and hide.”
If the store was open he probably would have ran inside a few seconds later when the shots began to ring out. As the man pans around, he sees the shooter in out of the corner of his eye with a quick “oh shit” look, drops the phone, and runs. As he fled, the gunman stands over the phone, looking up at him, and empties his entire clip of 15 bullets, plus one in the chamber.
As spring turns to summer, scenes just like those in the video will be played over and over again in front of men, women, and children thousands of times. Violence rises here as the temperatures do, but there have already been 700 shootings and 150 murders two weeks into spring.
“Mess around get shell-shocked down here,” Kaso, a 24-year-old life-long resident of West Englewood, said of the sometimes random and often deadly violence that envelopes the city’s South and West sides as the temperatures rise.
If a shooting outside the store wasn’t bad enough, on Friday part of the ceiling came down thanks to the hoses of the Chicago Fire Department that was putting out a blaze next door in an abandoned home.
They weren’t there yesterday, thankfully, a woman named Dee who didn’t want to give her last name, said.
“We just hope the police find the shooter,” a woman named Dee who didn’t want to give her last name said while cleaning up inside the store.
“Could have been just random,” Kaso said.Like Dee and thousands of others across the city, Kaso had seen the video; it’s making the rounds on Facebook and spreading by word of mouth on the streets.
“And the first thing people always be talkin’ about is ‘Oh, he was a gang member or he was gang affiliated,’” Kaso said of some of the comments made about the victim. “None of that should matter. If you’re a police officer and your job is to solve crime, then solve the crime. Go get that shooter.”
Do not think that men like Kaso are pro-cop though. Shootings and homicides are up, which some blame on an apparent 90 percent unauthorized reduction in street stops, Chicago’s version of stop and frisk.
“Why can’t I say ‘I don’t consent to this search’ in that situation?” Kaso asks. “I’m a man. I should be able to say no and not have someone reaching down my pants looking for whatever.”
This is the reality of life in some of Chicago’s toughest neighborhoods, stuck between twin foes: the police who harass you and the gangbangers who have no respect for human life, Kaso explained.
“Fuck around and get traumatized.”
Whoever the man in the video is we don’t yet know. And whatever he was doing we don’t know either, but Kaso and his friend on a porch near the corner of 56th and Hoyne where the shooting occurred agreed that the victim looked like he was minding his own business. Shit, he even looked happy about the prospect of the corner store opening back up after the fire next door so kids in the neighborhood would have a place to go, Kaso thought.
“This used to be a nice little spot,” Kaso said, handing the short of a cigarette to a friend on the porch. “It’s been smooth here for like two years.”