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An Eloquent Reaction To A Robbery

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jun 19, 2014 4:30PM

Photo credit: Stephanie Barto

Most of us never imagine being victims of crime yet it happens, even in the most innocuous ways. Now picture being robbed at gunpoint steps from your house and you live in a neighborhood where you don’t expect it to happen. How would you react immediately or after the fact? Would you remain calm and give the robbers everything in your possession of value, recognizing smartphones, credit cards and other items of value can be replaced? Or would you panic and make a tense situation untenable?

Former Chicagoist editor Scott Smith—who lives in Beverly—was robbed as he was walking home last night. He remained calm and handed the robbers everything he had of value. Then he did what he had to do: he filed a police report; canceled his credit cards; etc. What Scott did after that was extraordinary.

He sat down and eloquently reflected on the experience and used it to as a call for community involvement and a reminder that violent crime can happen even in Chicago’s best neighborhoods..

Crime should not feel inevitable. But it’s felt like that lately in Chicago. For many people, including me. Even though I live in a safe neighborhood. There’s too much of it happening here for it not to affect you, no matter what neighborhood you live in. I’ve been telling anyone who will listen that Chicago’s tribalism, enforced by neighborhood boundaries, contributes to the problem. As long as it happens somewhere else, it’s OK. As long as it involves gangs, it’s OK because you’re not in one so it won’t happen to you. Even though it’s only a matter of time until it hits home. It did for me last night.

I am not special. This exact scenario plays out many times across the city. Similar ones happen often with far more lethal results. As someone who closely follows what happens in this city and this neighborhood, I’m aware of the potential danger.

Far too often the reaction to a crime like this falls into “back in my day” white noise, proclamations of “Chicago was safer when Richard J. Daley was mayor” and threats to move to some suburb where crime is non-existent and everything you want grows on the small trees planted to offset a front lawn laid out in brick. For Scott, the experience reinforced the reasons he moved to Beverly.

I know what happened to me is minor compared to what has happened to others who don’t have the resources or support I have. Or to people who aren’t targets themselves but are caught between the person who is and the person with a gun. I walked away with an unpleasant experience. Most people who have a gun pointed at them in Chicago don’t walk away.

Chicago’s murder rate gets a lot of attention. But the robbery, assault and other crime rates don’t get as many frequent updates even though they hit people where they live, too. And they’re making people leave where they live.

Not me though. I’m staying to fight. I’ve lived in this neighborhood for five years. We have the best burger and best ice cream in the city. There are many other things to recommend it: the churches, the schools, the people.

We couldn’t have expressed it better. If you want a better Chicago, get involved, starting with your neighborhood. Scott’s full account can be read here.