It's not easy being young and black in Oak Park

One View

Opinion: Columns

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Print

Eireann Dolan

Lent has just ended, and this time of year always gets me thinking — what am I grateful for? Sure, I'm thankful that I've got a wonderful family, a fridge full of food, a tank full of gas, and some incredible friends. But, upon thinking about one of these friends, a young man named Gregory, I started to realize that I was grateful for just one more thing: that I'm not a young black man in Oak Park.

In last week's Wednesday Journal, a woman named Leslie Blackburn wrote a piece for Viewpoints [Hypocrisy of Oak Park rears its ugly head, Viewpoints, April 20] about people questioning her neighborly values because of her appearance and ethnicity. Many of you might think her inference that her neighbors only thought she wouldn't clean up after her dog based on her ethnicity was a bit glib. And before I met Gregory, I might have agreed with you. But let me assure you, she was dead right.

I grew up in Oak Park, and after college I moved back to Oak Park because I'd always known our village to be among the most welcoming, inclusive and open-minded in the world. Of course we are open-minded and inclusive; after all, we keep saying that we are. And all my life I was lucky enough not to ever have cause to question that specious reasoning.

A year and a half ago, I met a then-12-year-old boy from our neighboring Austin neighborhood named Gregory. His school had put him in a "self-contained" class, which was something I was familiar with, as my older brother has autism, and he faced an uphill battle with Oak Park's special education system. Gregory shares my love of dogs. He often comes over to play with my two dogs, or he brings his dogs over, and we take walks with them in nearby Taylor Park. We became fast friends. He's met all of my neighbors and they all quite like him. He even takes care of my dogs when I go out of town.

The first time the police were called on Gregory, when he was at my house feeding my dogs, I was out of town. I'd given him a house key to do this. I got a call from a neighbor and friend of mine telling me that my house was surrounded by police squad cars. Apparently, someone who'd been passing by my house saw Gregory opening my front door with his key, and she'd called the police, suspecting a break in.

The second time Gregory had a run-in with Oak Park police, I was there. A few weeks after the first incident, Gregory and I had made plans to hang out after he got out of school. He came over, but I was late running errands. I told him to wait on my front porch, as he didn't have the house key on him.

When I got home, he told me that someone who was walking by while he was sitting on my front porch had asked him who he was and what he was doing there. I was unsettled by this but told him not to worry, and we began to get my dogs ready for a walk. A few moments later, I noticed a police officer in my backyard, and Gregory called to me that there was one in my front yard as well. I opened the back door and asked the officer why they were on my property. The officer told me, very nicely, that someone had called them to report a break in.

Yes, again, a break in.

Gregory sitting on my front porch by himself had turned into Gregory breaking and entering. Gregory came to the door, and when the police officer saw him, a look of surprise came over the officer's face, and he said, "Oh, you know him." I was shocked and mortified. What could I tell Gregory? How could I explain this to his family? How could I excuse my fellow Oak Parkers who'd called the police on him? I couldn't.

But it was the third experience that Gregory had with Oak Park "neighborly values" a few months later that really got me upset — likely because, this time, the person who'd called the police was not anonymous. Oak Park small-mindedness, which reigns supreme with a few of us, finally had a face.

Gregory and I were walking my dog Vincent in neighboring Taylor Park. As soon as we crossed the street into the park, Vincent began to go to the bathroom. I began to pull out a bag to pick up after him, but I suddenly heard a car screech to a halt, and the car door slammed shut as a woman got out of her car and began to yell at us.

She demanded to know whether or not I was planning on picking up after my dog. This experience is very similar to Ms. Blackburn's experience. When I responded non-verbally by showing her the bright blue bag I'd just pulled over my hand, she heatedly asked if I was going to pick it up now, and I answered, "Clearly! Just as soon as you realize how rude it is to talk to a stranger like that."

Of course my response was only rhetorical. My picking up after my dog was absolutely not contingent upon her recognizing her own rudeness. I always clean up after my dog. Always.

As I was picking up, she asked me who my friend was, gesturing toward Gregory, who'd been silent this whole time. I told her in no uncertain terms that that was none of her business, and that he had nothing to do with any of this. This was between her and me.

That's when things took an even worse turn. She said, "Well, maybe you'd be willing to tell the police who he is."

Now I should have tried to defuse the situation. Under any other circumstances, especially if I'd been alone, I would have tried to come to an understanding. But then again, I do not think any of this would have happened in the first place if I'd been alone. This situation was different. You can question my pet's waste-related moeurs, but what did Gregory have to do with this? He later told me he wondered the same.

I told her to go ahead and call the police, as we weren't doing anything wrong. Vincent was on a leash, I'd cleaned up after him, so why was she still there? I'm not proud of this, but I even dared her to call the police just to see what they'd say. I was certain that they'd laugh at her for calling 911 over something so ridiculous. And I cannot overstate the ridiculousness of the situation. But then I heard her say those three magic words that seem to get police to respond in almost every situation: "young black male."

She said those words before she described me, and well before she got around to even telling the dispatcher what had happened.

Gregory heard this too, and he asked me if we could go back to my house, and fast. I agreed. He didn't need this. I didn't need to stick around to make a point about local hypocrisy — at least not with his safety and self-esteem on the line. A few minutes later, from the safety of my own house, we saw squad cars circling the park.

I'd like to make it very clear that my neighbors were not the ones who'd called the police on him. They know and like him. They even come to his defense when people question why he is in our neighborhood (given that he lives less than a mile away, this should be considered his neighborhood, too).

My neighbors are wonderful people. They get just as upset as I do when they see this poor, now nearly 14-year-old boy with a learning disability having to deal with local police.

It's these "concerned citizens" that bother me — the ones who find Gregory threatening enough to their existence to call the police. By all accounts, Gregory and I should no longer hang out together. If I were in his situation, I would never set foot in Oak Park ever again. But he is young and apparently very willing to forgive and forget.

What worries me is that if this "neighborly concern" continues, I will lose a great friend, and, more significantly, Gregory will lose his self-confidence. If enough people suggest that he is a threatening young man, and if enough people treat him as such, he will begin to see himself that way, and he might even begin to behave accordingly.

After all, if you tell a child long enough that he is worthless, he will eventually believe you.

From now on, my dear concerned neighbors, spare us. Spare us your racial profiling. Spare us your "us vs. them" mentality. And spare Gregory your anti-neighborly — no, anti-humanly — sentiments. The world he lives in tells him enough that people should be afraid of him. He doesn't need you to concur.

Reader Comments

66 Comments - Add Your Comment

Comment Policy

saddened  

Posted: November 3rd, 2011 9:26 AM

What a sad story. Oak Park is starting to seem less and less like a place that welcomes and includes all people. A great place for liberal whites to make themselves feel good, but blacks not so much.

LB from Oak Park  

Posted: May 20th, 2011 9:45 AM

I am the Leslie who wrote the letter about being judged by neighbors. I am a mixed race American, and I am the last person to want to make race an issue, which is why I was so disappointed to be judged by the busybody neighbor, because I can't stand people who always use race as an excuse for everything that happens to them--but in this case, I felt in my heart that this is why this lady was judging me. I also agree that racism comes in many forms, from people of every ethnicity.

ih8idiots  

Posted: May 13th, 2011 3:17 PM

Violent Aura may be a woman of color (Latina) but she is also well known in this forum as an anti-Black racist, as her lecturing and insulting of the letter writer and apologia for the obvious racist bears out. Just check out any of the criminal reports in the WJ for confirmation.

OP  

Posted: May 13th, 2011 2:51 PM

Violet, You live in RF. Whens the last person of color to serve on that Village Board? How about Park Board, School Board, or any board for that matter? Whens the last time you saw someone in a supervisory position in RF Village Hall?

willie morris jr from chicago  

Posted: May 12th, 2011 4:30 PM

You are one fantastic neighbor/friend and I commend you for standing with and up for Gregory. If there were more individuals like you across this country "what a wonderful world this would be." May the Lord bless you and may for concern for the Gregory's of the world be richly rewarded.

Violet Aura  

Posted: May 10th, 2011 12:39 PM

Another thing I'd like to add is that this notion that OP is soooo inclusive and unicorn-ville-ish is a bit naive. As I stated in an earlier post months ago, the only time in my life I have been called an ethnic slur was IN OP!!! So I am hip to reality and that all is not what it seems. I also believe that intolerance is more socio-economic than due to melanin content. There are many upper/uppermiddle class Whites who wouldn't mind rubbing shouldlers w/ Buppies but poor Blacks? Not so much...

Violet Aura  

Posted: May 10th, 2011 12:35 PM

Ms. Williams, you sound like you have a big heart, but as someone who grew up in OP very close to Austin and is a woman of color of herself, I think you may have overreacted. There are a whole slew of "isms" in this world and racism is just one of them. Sexism, ageism, you name it. To hyperventilate and even worse, to show this to a child is not the best way to handle it. Calmly explaining to him that the neighbor didn't know who he was and wanted to make sure he knew you was enough info for him

OP Resident  

Posted: May 10th, 2011 12:04 PM

I used to drive around the Austin district in a desperate attempt to find our heroin-addicted teenage daughter. One night, a Chicago police officer pulled me over. After explained why I was cruising around the neighborhoods, he told me to go home and never come back! He said if he saw me again: he'd plant drugs on me and I'd be charged with felony possesion. I never returned but still think how difficult it must be for people who live in Austin & are trying to rise their families amid the chaos.

Steve Bankes from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 10th, 2011 11:40 AM

This is one of the best letters to the WJ I've read in a long time, made me miss my bus. Wish there were more conversations like this. Felt sick to my stomach for Greg, but I understand fear too. Feel bad for the lady who stopped her car. What a crappy life she must have, filled with hate and mistrust. I grew up in a all-while community and I think our kids will be much better judges of danger because they grew up in OP. Hang on world, our kids are almost there and are much smarter than us.

Brad from Oak Park  

Posted: May 10th, 2011 10:36 AM

I agree with you Ms. Williams. Also keep in mind that the same thing happens if a white person is seen in austin. Officers believe they are just trying to get drugs. I think this is a fine opinion, but I do not agree with the criticism of the Oak Park special education systerm. I have been a volunteer with the OPRF special ed system for four years, and have been very impressed with what these programs do for the kids.

Pamela Williams from Oak Park  

Posted: May 8th, 2011 10:40 PM

My son was home from college while walking in Oak Park, he was arrested 1 block from our Oak Park home. Accused of a felony. The arresting officer asked why was he in the area..the felony charge was dismissed, however his record is now flawed..

Grady Norwood,Jjr. from Chicago  

Posted: May 8th, 2011 1:01 AM

Until we have a real dialog about race and WHITE privilage the Black community needs to come up with our own solutins to protect our children. The media protrays all BLACK men as dangerous Killers. I've had my own experience with the Oak park Police working on a political campaign a few years ago. The police officer stopped me and other campaign workers on a Saturday and told us we could not be getting signatures from the people of the village which was not true.

Peter T  

Posted: May 7th, 2011 3:38 PM

Everyone should know the people on their block. This is a big part of community and community policing. Bring your friend to a block party or introduce him to neighbors. If your neighbors don't know him and he is entering your house then I would expect the police to be called; better safe than sorry. It is part of living in Oak Park being so close to underserved areas.

Oak Parker  

Posted: May 6th, 2011 9:54 PM

To be truly proactive and defensive one must question people BEFORE the criminal behavior. When you call the police they are always asking for a description. Nothing racist. Rather be smart than sorry

JanetGayes from Oak Park  

Posted: May 6th, 2011 9:49 PM

Thank you Eireann for sharing your experiences. I grew up with white privilege, but I have only recently come to grasp how much of what I have accomplished is not only from my hard work, but from the societal benefits of my skin color. I have 2 adult children with disabling conditions, and my family experiences ableism. It is overt and it is subtle. It is pervasive beyond what I ever could have imagined. It can be like a weight constantly wearing one down. It can appear anywhere and everywhere. And, if I try to expose ableist attitudes, the response from the able-bodied is often anger or denial. The thing is - when one is on the "privileged" side of discriminatory attitudes, one just cannot see it. So, what do we do? We need to listen. Listen. We need to open our hearts to the difficult stories that others' share. A place to start - check out Peggy McIntosh's classic article Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack - http://www.nymbp.org/reference/WhitePrivilege.pdf

epic lulz  

Posted: May 6th, 2011 5:22 PM

@Eireann, please post the name and a description of this racist so that when we see her in our community we can call the police and report her. I'd also like to post fliers with her picture on it with the caption, "Beware: local racist terrorizing black children".

epic lulz  

Posted: May 6th, 2011 5:18 PM

"The most important element is that of LOOKS." No, the most important element is behavior.

OP Resident  

Posted: May 6th, 2011 3:09 PM

There's the rub, Oak Parker. There's no way you can simply look at a person to determine if they have criminal intent. No one could tell that Ted Bundy was a serial killer or Timothy McVie would park a van packed with explosives in front of a day care center or Wayne Williams would kill children in Atlanta.There is a perception that young males, especially African-Amercians pose a threat to our safety. We know that is false but society still struggles with stereotyping. It's a complex issue.

Oak Parker  

Posted: May 6th, 2011 10:36 AM

OP RES, Says "The facts are that men who commit violent crimes should not defined by their race. More often they share a background of limited education, poor family structure & were raised in poverty. They are social outsiders who lack positve role models." How does one in a society see the attributes you point out to protect themselves from thugs. I dont think you can take out the human element when describing criminals. The most important element is that of LOOKS.

Elizabeth Freeland from Oak Park  

Posted: May 6th, 2011 8:25 AM

This is an excellent article. I'm very glad you took the time to write it. Deeply ingrained biases are often like "the air we breath" and go unnoticed (however obvious they may be to another). It is important that we are reminded of this and take the time to think about how we can improve our own behavior.

OP Guy  

Posted: May 6th, 2011 2:48 AM

iha8idiots 2, you should do some reading on the definition of racism. Racism is an institution, and there is a clear difference between racism and discrimination.

OP Resident  

Posted: May 6th, 2011 2:24 AM

That's no answer, Luke. The facts are that men who commit violent crimes should not defined by their race. More often they share a background of limited education, poor family structure & were raised in poverty. They are social outsiders who lack positve role models. A recent study found high levels of lead present in a significant number of prisoners. This is very complex issue. Parroting Glenn Beck's rants about leftists does not contribute to this discussion. Instead, it limits your vision.

Luke Scottwalker from Oak Park  

Posted: May 5th, 2011 11:27 PM

ih8idiots is what Lenin (or was it Stalin?) referred to as one of the "useful idiots", a misguided American leftist.

Oak Parker  

Posted: May 5th, 2011 9:33 PM

I guess we shouldn't fear anything in OP. Do you read the Police blotter?

iha8idiots 2 from Oak Park  

Posted: May 5th, 2011 9:07 PM

and iha8idiots is an idiot. I love when white (and black) people think that blacks can't be racist. And lots of idiots in OP. Act like they have the attitude of I love to help the unfortunate and promoting diversity. But are the most rude, unfriendly people I have met. Also, do not have any friends of another race.

Eireann D. from Oak Park  

Posted: May 5th, 2011 8:57 PM

"Only hate can flourish in an atmosphere of fear." - A.S. Neill

Oak Parker  

Posted: May 5th, 2011 8:55 PM

Four words. They fit the description. Not a racist thing. Just what people know as reality.

Eireann D. from Oak Park  

Posted: May 5th, 2011 8:48 PM

My point is not that people should stop calling the police if they see something suspicious. My point is that people should change their standards for what they find suspicious. I often have my younger male cousins over to my house, they are white, and my neighbors do NOT know them, but nobody has EVER called the police on them. Do you see the issue that I have? What made them find Greg suspicious? He has more of a familiar face than my white male teen cousins who visit my house. Why him?

@Eireann  

Posted: May 5th, 2011 8:05 PM

I didn't say that Gregory would be suspicious, but I hope you don't want people to stop calling the police when they see something suspicious. I'm afraid people may read your letter and come away with the conclusion that they should err on the side of not calling the police unless they know for certain something is wrong. That is contrary to what the OPPD recommends. OPPD has told me to err on the side of calling if I think something may be wrong.

Eireann D. from Oak Park  

Posted: May 5th, 2011 7:51 PM

And Gregory would be suspicious to you? I said in the article that all of my neighbors know him and like him. Gregory said he didn't recognize the people who'd called thepolice. That means a stranger called. Someone who would not have known who lives at my house, and therefore have no idea whether Gregory belonged there. For all they knew, Greg could have lived at my house. But they assumed Gregory didn't belong there. And THAT'S my problem.

@Eireann  

Posted: May 5th, 2011 7:29 PM

I understand your perspective, but I hope my neighbors will call the police if they see anything suspicious in my neighborhood. My husband and I saw a van in the alley that we knew did not belong to our neighbor last week and we called the police. (The driver was white, by the way.) Turned out to be nothing, but I am glad we called. My house has been burglarized, and I had a family member brutally assaulted near my home. I just want to keep my family safe.

Jimmy from San Diego  

Posted: May 5th, 2011 1:07 PM

Wow...i'm so happy I live in Cali. So many ignorant people as the coast gets further. The fool "Oak Parker" commenting on our jail population? You must be from Kentucky. get an education.

OP Resident  

Posted: May 5th, 2011 10:31 AM

We're back to Square One, Oak Parker. My granddaughter is bi-racial and I have personally witnessed subtle hints of racism towards her since she was a toddler. Strange but true. She's a lovely young girl and I don't think she realizes that some people are judging her because of her skin colr. That day is coming and I hope it does not crush her spirit. You may be right that our village is "less racist" but hatred does exist and has a destructive impact on it's victims.

Oak Parker  

Posted: May 5th, 2011 12:11 AM

Oak Park is LESS racist than other Cities or Towns. True

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 5th, 2011 12:04 AM

Oak Parker - Gotcha - we are closer to being on the same page.

Oak Parker  

Posted: May 4th, 2011 11:50 PM

Thats funny. Who fills most of our jails and penitentiaries? I never said crime has a color. I said I dont have a problem with police questioning someone of the same make- up of people who commit most of the crime locally. If in your day the Irish and Italians were the criminals, by all means question them more so and be a little more vigilant around them than otherwise. Better to be safe than sorry.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 4th, 2011 11:40 PM

Oak Parker-Maybe someday I will feel as angry as you over crime,but I doubt it. Read up some time on who the notorious criminals were in the 1800's Chicago and were considered an underclass - The Irish. They filled the city's jails and terrorized the streets. They were all white. The same was true for the Italians. Almost all priests abusing children were white. All the white collar criminals on Wall St. were white. Chicago cops arrested for abuse - mostly white. Crime does not have a color.

Oak Parker  

Posted: May 4th, 2011 11:10 PM

John M, Easy for you to say. You have just been lucky. Let someone violate your home or you and you'd have a different story. People really have their own experiences to go off of. OPPD need to react to OTHER people's experiences and not their own personal ones.

Oak Parker  

Posted: May 4th, 2011 11:07 PM

Pedophiles on a plane? If you think your kids are at risk on an airplane FULL of pedophiles- you need to learn how to be a parent. Pedophiles in a community- different story. Am I gonna be more wary of someone who matches the description of a pedophile in my area- You betchya. As for your other examples- We are talking st crime but your example shows that if one group is shown to commit a high % of the crime, that group usually will comitt the same crime in the future. By ALL means ? all of 'em!

ih8idiots  

Posted: May 4th, 2011 10:52 PM

"It had nothing to do with a person's race." Ya gotta love white racists lecturing blacks about racism.

epic lulz  

Posted: May 4th, 2011 10:50 PM

Wow. This creep actually stopped her car to confront you and your friend? Ms. Dolan, please, you have got to out this racist. Who is she. Just as, as a community, we need to identify the serial mugger, we also need to ferret out the racists, and the best way to do that is with a little sunshine.

Editor from Editor of Any City  

Posted: May 4th, 2011 10:44 PM

Why does it seem so many White people are convinced that they are the answer for other races. When you start demonstrating that another race needs a hand up, it makes that race feel inferior, and adds dependency. Stop thinking everyone is trying to bring a person down because of his race. The reality of the story has been the police have been called on a suspicious person in front of their neighbors home. It had nothing to do with a person's race. The race was used for description purposes.

Julia Martin from Oak Park  

Posted: May 4th, 2011 10:16 PM

Last summer I met Gregory outside Eireann's house. He was such an open, delightful kid that we then together walked our dogs through the Park. We each had walked the same distance from our homes, yet his reality was one of "outside dogs" and a shooting next door. I cheered that a neighbor had extended him a position of trust. For five years, I've worked in Austin and Harvey, and encountered only civility. Yet Oak Park cannot extend the same treatment to a sweet young man? Reprehensible.

OP Resident  

Posted: May 4th, 2011 6:39 PM

I guess the question that needs to be asked and answered is, "Does OPPD gather information regarding the race,age and gender of each person with whom they have direct contact?". I know that when I have called the police they've asked me for that type of information. Of course, the data would need to expertly analyzed in order to determine if there is any indication of racial profiling. I would prefer the trustees take the lead rather than having to file a FOIA.

Eireann D from Oak Park  

Posted: May 4th, 2011 6:07 PM

find it hard to believe if you'd like. i was there. what would it have taken for me to verify that the calling of the police was racially motivated? should i have waited for the callers to say, "i'm only doing this because he's black"? when the officer said, "you know him?" he verbally confirmed that the person who'd called reported a young black teen. would this have happened to ANY black person? no. but there was something about greg that worried them. and i'm guessing it wasn't just his age.

Editor from Any City  

Posted: May 4th, 2011 6:02 PM

Re-Write It seems the writer is assuming the encounters Gregory has had, is based on him being African-American. Anyone tell the writer it was because he is African-American? I find it hard to believe that each time Gregory has been spotted on the writers property, the caller would continue to call on the same person after the police checked the person out. Who cares what race someone is. If it doesn't fit, call the police. Now on to bigger and scarier things from the media.

Editor from Any City  

Posted: May 4th, 2011 5:57 PM

Read the story. It seems that the writer is assuming the most all the encounters Gregory has had, is based on him being African-American. Is there any facts supporting that each encounter was the direct result of Gregory being African-American? I find it hard to believe that each time Gregory has been spotted on the writers property, that the caller is calling the police once again on the same caller.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 4th, 2011 4:08 PM

Oak Parker - I have lived for six decades, spent most of my life in New York, Detroit, and Chicago, have been to 35 countries, traveled over a million miles and never have run out of luck. The only time I was accosted was by a little, old pickpocket in Ecuador who got his hand in my pocket at church. My point is that I think our fears are more of a problem than the mugger. I feel for the five people accosted, but do not think that it is cause to inflame (scare the hell out of) the community.

OP Resident  

Posted: May 4th, 2011 3:36 PM

Middle Aged, here's story for you. In 1926, my dad was 13 years old & walked over to the Taylor Street neighborhood in Chicago looking for a job. He was attacked by gang from the area & was so seriously injured that last rites were administered. When he tried to enlist in '41; the Army rejected him due to the fact that he still had physical problems from the beating. It crushed him to see his friends leave to fight the enemy. Despite this, he never taught us to hate all Italians. Thugs are thugs

OP Resident  

Posted: May 4th, 2011 3:23 PM

You're taking a step back, Oak Parker. Think about what you are saying. Pedophiles are 99% male and a majority are white. Should we be frightened to board a plane with our children if we see that the majority of passengers are white men. The same race is responsible for most arson crimes. And who do you think was responsible for the near collapse of economy? And who sent our soldiers to die in illegal wars? And who ok'd dropping atom bombs on Japan? And who was responsible for the Holocaust?

Middle Aged White Man  

Posted: May 4th, 2011 3:18 PM

I empathize with anyone who has been on the receiving end of racism, however, I think it's a leap to infer racism when verbally attacted by rude people. I too have been confronted for the same issue while walking my dog, I never assumed it was because I was white and middle aged.

Oak Parker  

Posted: May 4th, 2011 3:11 PM

John M, you should be so lucky. It only takes one time and that could be the last. I want MY police to question the likes of people who commit crime in my area. Last time I checked someone shot Malcom X......and he wasnt a white guy.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 4th, 2011 3:06 PM

How would you feel after boarding a flight and then see 10 middle eastern people on your flight? Fine, I have done it many times. I have flown when the passenger majority was black, white, Indian, Hispanic, and Asian. I feel no more secure flying with a majority of whites than I do with any other group. I am with OP Resident re Oklahoma. I also do not remember any non-whites attempting the assassination of any of the U.S. Presidents.

OP Resident  

Posted: May 4th, 2011 3:03 PM

You're getting there, Oak Parker. Sure the west side is a dangerous place. Please be aware that all of the area's residents are not criminals. Some are folks trying to raise their families and others are long time residents who remember better days. Don't believe for a second that a black person doesn't face the same peril. Look at the statistics for black-on-black crime. And you know there are white neighborhoods where a black man would not be safe. No race has a monopoly on criminal behavior.

Oak Parker  

Posted: May 4th, 2011 2:51 PM

OP Res, Try going to the west side or any other part of the city that you dont look like the other people. You get profiled just as quickly. Problem? No- not at all. White kids go to the west side to buy drugs. The white guy who blew up the OK building wasnt the profile for a high percent of crime. If he was, by all means question his type. Better to be safe than sorry. ALWAYS. What really makes any person suspicious. Rather question ALL than NONE at ALL.

OP Resident  

Posted: May 4th, 2011 2:45 PM

You know, Oak Parker. It's easy for you and me to say "What's the big deal?". We've never been profiled by the police. At least, I've never been. But for the 13 year old boy in my posting; it's a different world. Your point about Middle Eastern people is a troubling example of limited vision and experience. I guess you forget about the young white male who parked a van packed with explosives in front of a day center and blow up the federal building in Oklahoma City. It's a slippery slope.

Oak Parker  

Posted: May 4th, 2011 2:36 PM

OP Res, If a high % of crime is committed by any one racial group, should that racial group ever be looked at differently? My quick answer is YES. How would you feel after boarding a flight and then see 10 middle eastern people on your flight ? Should the OPPD question more of the types that committed this choking crime in the area that they have occurred? You betcha. Better to be safe than sorry.

I'm confused  

Posted: May 4th, 2011 1:20 PM

@Not Confused. Link just worked for me. Take the "." away. D97 has, per 09 report card, 5247 students. 35% are black or bi-racial. D200, per 2010 report card, has 3182 students. 27.6 are black and 5.6 multi-racial. These numbers are important to me because Ms. Dolan, based on her experiences/letter, is calling a lot of OP racists. Then, logically, this sort of "racism" must be occurring frequently - because "Gregory" isn't the only black kid in OP.

OP Resident  

Posted: May 4th, 2011 1:05 PM

I'll share a personal experience that can serve as an example of racial profiling. Our neighbor's son received an expensive bike as a graduation present. Very flashy set of wheels. OPPD officers stopped this young black male on a number of occasions for a "chat". He sometimes let both my sons take a ride on his bike. Neither boy was ever pulled over and asked, "Where did you get the bike?". Seems like a sad and nasty way for kids to learn the ways of the world & how they are viewed by authorities

Not Confused  

Posted: May 4th, 2011 1:00 PM

@I'm confused, I don't know where you got your numbers, but it they are not from the link you provided. Check your math again for your calculations are wrong and please report to the principal's office.

I'm confused  

Posted: May 4th, 2011 12:34 PM

@John. http://www.op97.org/administration/cards/Beye.pdf. D97 has around 1,600 black or bi-racial students. OPRF has around 1,200. That's just the public elementary schools. Knowing this, do you better understand my point about this letter? There are "thousands of black children who live and go to school in Oak Park" - and I know many of them (and their parents). Take what Ms. Dolan is writing about - and there must be chaos everywhere. But there isn't. So, yes, "I'm confused by this story."

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 4th, 2011 11:54 AM

I have some doubt about numbers you threw around in the post, but put that off it creative writing. I think the real issue here is whether Community Policing is working properly. After three visits by the police re Gregory's presence, I would think that the community officer would have been involved and notified other police of his legitimacy in the community. I also think the 911 responder should have been better able to identify the crazy lady's venom and anxiety.

I'm confused  

Posted: May 4th, 2011 11:31 AM

There are thousands of black children who live and go to school in Oak Park. Their parents are both black and white. I don't dispute Ms. Dolan's experiences, but, c'mon, if this is an indictment against OP - and considering the large number of black children in OP (black parents, bi-racial, adopted) - then the OP Police must have hundreds of these type of calls every day. They don't - and so I'm confused by this story.

Mary Ellen Eads from Oak Park  

Posted: May 4th, 2011 9:30 AM

Person to person initiatives are nice, but to a large extent, opportunities for kids like Gregory now depend on, yes, Rahm Emmanuel and his new Chicago govt team. During the Daley reign, Chicago's West side has been severely neglected in favor of Millenium Park type initiatives. The many (Democratic) politicians in the area didn't protest much. And Austin residents moved out in droves over the past decade. Will there be real change now? We'll see. Oak Park will benefit greatly if there is.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 3rd, 2011 11:04 PM

How sad, How mean, How can we all help? Diversity means nothing until it is displayed 25/7 in our village.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: May 3rd, 2011 10:37 PM

This makes me sick to my stomach. Please tell Gregory many of us are pulling for him. Thank you for taking the time to share your story.

Find a garage sale near you!

In search of local garage sales? Find out what sales are happening near you on our map and listing page.

Quick Links

Sign-up to get the latest news updates for Oak Park and River Forest.


            
SubscribeClassifieds
Photo storeContact us
Submit Letter To The Editor

Latest Comments