A twelve year old boy named Miguel was shot dead in the street by a stray bullet from some gang crap. It happened four days ago in broad daylight on our corner. We are forced to turn down that way each time we leave our house because of the arrangement of one-way streets. That day, we couldn't turn because of the several cop cars and screaming people that occupied the block. We wondered what happened but pretty much went about our day unaffected because of the inherent desensitivity to such sights one inevitably acquires when living in the city. It wasn't until later that we learned what had really happened there; the terrible event made apparent by a makeshift memorial that had been erected by Miguel's family and friends at the scene of the accident.
Aparently his father owns the small grocery store down the block from where it happened and one of its brick walls is now dedicated to preserving the memory of Miguel and forcing onlookers to know what happened to him there. There are short yearbook-like blurbs and messages scrawled across it by other neighborhood kids saying things like "we'll always love our little papito" and such. There is a little wooden table overflowing with candles and flowers below a huge picture of Miguel himself, alive and smiling, in football playing garb.
The day after Miguel was shot, the event made national news and was of course particularly emphasized here in Chicago. Everywhere we went people were talking about it. There was even a huge parade down our street of 'awareness raisers', mostly white people I had never seen before in my life.
Despite the attention people are attempting to give this tragedy, I almost resent the way some people are wearing it on their sleeve that they care. All I can think about is the people who knew and loved this boy for twelve years and have now lost him because of complete and utter stupidity, the likes of which I don't see ever coming to an end. Don't worry, I am not going to start talking about the semantics of poverty and gang activity here. I think that crap goes without saying at this point.
I consciously avoided walking up to the memorial for two days, not wanting to get in the way of the grieving family or deal with the cops who were constanly 'guarding' the scene. Finally, my friend Mark and I smoked a J on my front stoop and strolled around the corner in the middle of the night to pay our respects. We were all alone; it was really late. The cop on duty was asleep in his car. We stood there reading the countless dedications on the wall and just cried for a boy we had never met and who no one will ever meet again.