Thursday, February 10, 2011

Crime gets stupid in Chicago metro area

The Naked City, with its eight million stories, may have been a reference to New York City and its variety of violence and garishness.

Yet when one considers that the greater Chicago metropolitan area (I’m counting all those suburbs in the collar counties) has in excess of eight million people as well, I can’t help but wonder if our very own Second City has become the Midwestern counterpart that could provide the same kind of tackiness required to provide for weekly doses of tawdriness.

PERHAPS I’M OVER-REACTING, but it is my reaction after scouring the Chicago papers (or their websites) on Wednesday, and finding all kinds of stupid crime stories that are less bothersome for what was done to someone, but instead are creepy because we have people in our society who were stupid enough to think they could get away with it.

One of them involves a former football player at Glenbard West High School who on Wednesday had bond set at $50,000 on charges that he and a teammate raped a teenage girl in the backseat of a car.

The rape occurred just over a year ago, yet officials were distracted by the fact that the two teenage football players were in an automobile accident the same night as the rape – in fact, about one hour later.

The teammate was killed, which means the focus was on the fact that a teenage life was lost. But amidst the wreckage from that car accident, police were able to recover the physical evidence that ultimately was used to justify the charges that were filed against the 18-year-old, who was arrested by police in Glen Ellyn while he was on his way to school.

HE GOES FROM being the football hero who survived a deadly crash, to being a suspected rapist. Perhaps we should just be thankful that the accident didn’t totally crowd out consideration of what happened to the teenage girl – who was able to identify one of her attackers.

Not to diminish the seriousness of sexual assault, but this wasn’t even the most pathetic crime story from high school I read on Wednesday.

That “honor” would have to go to the account of the Evanston Township High School student who brought brownies to school and shared them with his fellow students – sending four of them to area hospitals.

This 17-year-old genius (heavy sarcasm intended here) laced his brownies with a large dose of marijuana. Yet before you start getting all critical of the kid for slipping something into an edible, consider that everybody who ate the brownies knew what they were laced with.

NEWSPAPER ACCOUNTS INDICATE that while expulsion is possible (on the grounds that it violates school rules to dispense mood-altering substances on school property), it also is possible that he will get something resembling a couple of weeks suspension.

Yet I can’t help but wonder about the people who knowingly ate those brownies. Somehow, they just don’t come across as victims to me.

Somebody probably got all giggly before taking a bite of brownie, thinking they were going to go trippin’ big time. Instead, all they got was the trip to the nurse’s office, followed up by the trip to the area hospital – where they had to confess to medical personnel just how lame-brained they were in their choice of dessert consumption.

School officials say that those who are involved in school sports, clubs or other activities may find themselves removed as a form of discipline, which just seems too mild to me.

THEN, THERE WAS the story that truly was a “blast from the past,” so to speak. A young man who was shooting video with a Fuji-brand digital camera for a class project had it snatched by some thugs while riding on a CTA “el” train.

He got the camera back because of the intervention of a man with the Guardian Angel patrols, although the three “Angels” apparently engaged in a fistfight with the would-be camera robbers in order to get it back, and to subdue two of them until police arrived to make the arrest.

The end result was that two men are now charged with robbery and misdemeanor battery, and bond was set for the two on Wednesday at $75,000 and $50,000.

While it was nice to see that someone didn’t get away with petty crime on the “el,” what is more shocking to me was the presence of the Guardian Angels, whom I didn’t realize were still in operation in Chicago. I recall their heyday back in the 1970s when they tried to create the image of taking back the streets of New York, and kind of assumed they went the way of polyester leisure suits since I can't recall the last time I saw them on the streets of Chicago.

SO PERHAPS IT is appropriate that we end with this New York offshoot trying to bring sense to the streets of Chicago. For to paraphrase the famed closing narration from the hit television show of the late 1950s:

There are eight million stories in the Naked City. These have been three of them.


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