After all kinds of set backs (X having court, rain, more rain), X and I went out on Saturday morning the 22nd of October with the with 11 locations to shoot. The stress of getting the project done had my face looking like a acne studded teenager's. We had to finish that day or it was all a bust. I managed to put off install at the MoCP until Monday. I had to print 30 images, shoot these 11 locations, color correct them, print them, and cut them all down all before the end of the day.
X picked me up at 6:30 a.m. We wasted no time with coffee or breakfast. Instead, we headed straight for the Woodlawn neighborhood on the city's South Side. We previously passed over this area because X said it was extremely rough. He wanted to make sure it was our first stop so that we could beat everyone out of bed. Our first location was at the CTA bus stop at 600 East 63rd Street where a masked gunman shot 15-year-old Shonele Gregory to death on the evening of December 12th at about 6:48 p.m. Gregory was waiting at the bus stop when a dark-colored vehicle pulled up. A passenger, who was wearing a half mask, jumped out and shot the boy several times. He was found dead on the scene when police and paramedics arrived. The bus stop was at the corner of 63rd and St. Lawrence under the Green Line. The was still rising behind the elevated structure. The warm yellow autumn sunlight was refracting off the train tracks, creating long dramatic shadows. Behind the stop was a large empty lot that spanned the whole north side of the block. While the grass was tightly kept it still served as a repository for garbage to accumulate. The dewed grass was brimming with alcohol bottles, plastic bags, soda bottles, chip bags, and various other refuse. Across the length of it was a well trodden thin dirt path. X stayed behind me as I photographed, mentioning how strangely serene it was there save for the occasional car speeding down 63rd under the tracks.
The next location was just a half a block west on the opposite side of the street. It was here that a fight in The Inflation Lounge escalated into the fatal shooting of Keonte Barney and the wounding of six other people early in the morning on October 31st. At about 1:45 a.m., police were called to the address where they found Barney unresponsive on the scene with multiple gunshot wounds. Police said that two people had a verbal argument inside the lounge before a person took out a gun and began firing. After the person left the club the person shot into the crowd again. Officials did not know if Barney was the intended target. X turned around and parked across from the now defunct lounge under the el tracks. The words Inflation Lounge were painted on the window and the curtains were drawn. Above the door was a large Old Style sign. As I pulled together my camera equiptment, a young woman got pulled over right across the street from us, one store front away from the location. As I photographed, three more cop cars pulled in front and beside the young girl's car. It seemed like overkill. One of the lady cops came over to talk to X and I. She was curious about what we were doing there. X explained the project to her then they proceeded to talk about Rahm Emmanuel and new police policies as I finished up shooting.
From there we went to an apartment building at 6712 South Halsted Street where at 11:29 p.m. on New Year's Eve, Michael Pope was stabbed in the abdomen in his residence in the city's Englewood neighborhood. The stabbing occurred during a fight between Pope and a 19-year-old man whom he knew at a party at his apartment. The 19-year-old was arrested at the scene. We pulled up to the three story brick building. The sun was peaking through the trees leaving the upper levels swathed in intricate ligth patterns. Through the top floor windows I could see tattered shades pulled down where blankets were not hung to block out the sun. On street level, there was a sign above the door that read "Affordable Quality Real Estate." There were two storefront churches abubtting each other just to the south. Halsted seemed like it should be bustling with morning traffic, but the only movement was from a young boy a half a block north of us waiting for the bus.
The next site, at 7000 South Emerald Avenue in the South Side's Gresham neighborhood, was where 20-year-old Bryant Howse was shot at about about 4:40 p.m. on November 5th. A friend took him to the hospital where he later died. Police say he had known gang affiliations. On the southeast corner of 70th and Emerald where the incident took place, there was a large lot that was surrounded by a white iron fence. It seemed to belong to a white house pone lot to the south. Staked in the grass between the sidewalk and the street was a weathered wooden sign with a large shark-bite-like chunk missing from the top. There was no discernible writing on it, but it looked like a very weathered block club sign. Everything was quiet save for a van that pulled up around the corner on 70th and sat parked with its music blaring as I photographed.
From there we to the West Englewood neighborhood. It was there that at 7:29 p.m. on December 11th, police responded to a report of a teen shot in the buttocks and leg. Police said the teen heard shots and felt pain. 16-year-old Frank Hart was just a block away from his home in the street at 7133 South Paulina when he was shot and killed. The site was smack in the middle of a quiet residential street lined with vinyl sided houses, some were lived in and some were boarded up. Hart was killed on the street in front of one of the abandos. Just up the block, an older gentleman was working on his garage. He had all its contents pulled out on the sidewalk. Among the items was a weathered maroon punching bag.
Just a few blocks away at 2030 West 70th Street, David Goodson and Oscar Harris were found dead with multiple gunshot wounds in a vehicle parked in front of a fire hydrant. They were discovered when police made a well-being check at that location about 6:45 p.m. on November 13th. The location was This was another sleepy residential street. The only sound was the loud din of rushing water echoing through the sewage drains.
That same rushing sound could be heard coming from below us at the site where Jerrod Benton, 22, was shot shortly after 10 p.m. on Halloween at 6954 South Wolcott Avenue. Officers responded to the scene and found Benton fatally shot with a head wound. He was found laying on the sidewalk in front of a red brick bungalow. While I photographed the site, a muscular white pitbull paced along the fence in the yard next door. It would occasionally stop to bark at X and I. The lamp post in front of the house the dog belonged to had a busted large white globe atop it. I wondered if the glass was broken by a bullet.
The colorful abando house across the street from where Jerrod Benton was killed
Random Lincoln head on our travels
After leaving there, we headed towards 6608 South Marquette Road where Solomon Dunwoody, 38, was shot to death while in his truck in his behind a home. The incident was reported at 10:34 a.m. on December 9th. When officers arrived, they found Dunwoody shot in the head and unresponsive. X and I visited this site once before. The report said that Dunwoody was found in his car and the location code told us that it was in a driveway. On our first visit, we couldn't figure out where the incident happened since there was no front yard or driveway. The building at the address sat three stories tall just barely set back from the sidewalk. There was no sign of a driveway. We assumed that it must have been a mistake and decided to photograph as though he was found in his car in front of the address. Just to be sure there was no "driveway" in that back, we drove through the alley on our way out. As it turned out, there was a small three-car landing pad behind the building nestled between two free standing garages. Unfortunately there was a Comcast truck parked in the drive and a worker was going in and out of the house. While the fronts of the buildings on this block reflected different stages of decay from peeling paint to boarded up windows, the back side made it look like we were behind a row of nice condo buildings. This time, we drove through the alley to find two of the three parking spots filled with shiney Hyundai vehicales. Oddly, one of the cars had a CPD hat resting int he front window. The third empty spot made something seem to be ominiously missing from the scene.
At this point, X and I only had three more locations to photograph. One of the locations was on the far south side in the Roseland neighborhood and two of them were on the west side. We decided to head south first and then wrap up out west. Rather than make our way back to the highway, we took Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard all the way south until we got to 113th Street. Reports say Kiley Murray, 38, was walking to his house shortly after 9 p.m. on December 13th when a white vehicle pulled up and two male suspects jumped out. One of the suspects shot the Murray. He was pronounced dead at the scene on the sidewalk at 11316 South 113th Street. This residential block although only 1 block away, seemed tucked away from the busy Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. As we drove up to the site, a car full of people in front of us pulled over to the side in front of the house just north of the address. A whole family, dressed for church, got out and made their way into the house. X and I sat in the car on the opposite side of the street until the car left and all the family members were inside before we got out to photograph. There were equally as many beutifully tended gardens and houses on the street as there were houses that looked abandoned. There were also a row of houses with brightly colored accents toward the south end of the block.
With that we headed north and then west to photograph the last two locations. The first site posed a problem for X and I. The location was a few houses down from a large, busy dope spot. X and I drove by there a few times on previous trips out and couldn't stop for safety's sake. This time X had a plan. We pulled over on Chicago Avenue just west of Kedzie across the street from Kells Park where X called one of his buddies that was working the day shift. About 10 minutes later, a white CPD SUV pulled up next to us. Our escort had arrived. X followed the cop car west on Chicago and north on Springfield. Reports say Dimitry Ratcliff was standing outside on November 10th when someone approached and fired several shots at him, striking him in the legs and the left shoulder. Police officers and paramedics responded shortly after 9 p.m. to the 1048 North Springfield Avenue and found him laying on the sidewalk with multiple gunshot wounds. As we pulled up to the site the dope boys shrunk back into gangways. One bold young man stood in the yard next door to where I was photographing watching the police officer the whole time. X and the officer chatted away while I freely moved about to photograph the now desolate sidewalk area in front of an abando that had each of its 6 windows shattered. On what was left of the shards of glass there were white painted clowns and pieces of CeaseFire stickers. The front door and window above it were boarded up with new looking ply wood. The house abutting it to the south was also an abando. All the windows and doors were boarded up, but two red crates that appeared to serve as seats were on the front porch. A young woman walked by while I was photographing and yelled out to ask if we were going to buy the building. We all laughed and said no.
X told me that there was a Latin King funeral going on just down the street at 3400 West Chicago. This was not Latin King territory so the authorities were a bit distressed about what might go on. He turned on his radio so I could hear the dispatcher callign for cars to go there to keep an eye on it. X drove me past so that I could see the group gathered outside the funeral home. The only thing that indicated that this might be a gang banger funeral was all the cars parked out front with shiney, crazy rims.
Our last location was a bit of a conundrum for us. It was left for last for a reason. We had to decide how we would photograph it. Francisco Favela was kidnapped at about 1:45 p.m. on December 11th from 2237 South Keeler Avenue. He had been rehabbing the building when he was abducted and his red Chevrolet Blazer was stolen. The kidnappers had pretended they wanted to rent the building. Favela, 45, was found dead a few days later inside a vehicle in a garage in the 1100 block of North Springfield Avenue. He died from blunt head trauma and stab wounds. The problem this posed was that he was abducted from one location and found in another, but it was assumed that his body was dumped (in a garage just a block from the site of Ratcliff's death). Where was he killed? What would most accurately depict the "site"? We decided to go to the address that he was abducted from. We headed south on Pulaski, turning west on Ogden before coming to the location.
Some pants on top of an auto mechanic's shop
The building that Favela was working on when he was abducted was a brick 6 flat with an empty lot that served as a yard on its south side. X and I sat in the car for a few minutes before we decided that this was what we were going to shoot. While we were sitting there, two men in a Mustang pulled up in front of a house just south of us. They scanned the property and pointed a to the upstairs window then drove off. X thought they may have been casing the house. He was mad he didn't write down their license plate number. We finally got out. The whole place had an aura of something gone awry. A cat seemed to be stuck in a tree in the yard, but made its way down slowly. The building looked as though it had not been touched since the man was taken. Above the teal blue front door was a hand painted sign indicating that the property was managed by Mr. Favela.
We did it! We finished just under the wire! Now I was off to process, print ad trim all the images for install on Monday.