Oak Park has long coped with violent acts near its borders with the rationalization that it was, for the most part, “spillover” from either the city or other suburbs we deem as “troubled.”
The spillover of a shooting death in the village is made less startling still when the victims are from those “other” places. It shouldn’t, but that’s how it seems to be.
Lately, though, we have seen an increased volume of such violence — last week a vehicle-to-vehicle murder just off the Ike at Harlem and reports of shots, the discovery of shell casings but no apparent victims on North Taylor. Then there was the crushing story of Melissa Rendon, the 15-year-old from Chicago, whose body was dumped in an alley in Oak Park. Two suspects are in custody though not yet charged with her death. Instead there are charges aplenty for the alleged drugging and rape of this unconscious child. That a 40-year-old man, charged in the case, identified himself in a video posted on Snapchat as the crime allegedly unspooled is more than chilling, it is evil loosed.
Such incidents, however, must not lead to further separation, amplifying division and simply amping up policing. We need to continue to engage our neighbors, support substantive change in sharing resources, and above all work control the unfettered flow of guns as we rethink community safety.