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In Chicago The River Flows Backwards, by Clancy Sigal

“”Chicago murder rate is record setting - 4,331 shooting victims with 762 murders in 2016. If Mayor can't do it he must ask for Federal help!””  - Trump tweet to mayor Rahm Emanuel, white Chicago’s own Darth Vader.
My old burned out, burned up Chicago west side Lawndale-Garfield Park neighborhood accounts for an amazing 
number of recent street massacres often by teens killing teens over a pair of Air Jordans or an Instagram diss.
Can you imagine the PTSD that shot-at shat-upon families feel in desolated Lawndale?  You hear a sudden noise 
and hit the floor.  Leaving your house you run to make a smaller target. 
Doctors Without Borders should send in whole teams of first-aid therapists.
Most of Chicago’s killings occur around “Bronzeville” the traditionally established black south side, and my own Lawndale, 
first pioneered by Germans, Czechs, Poles then Jews followed by more turbulent “Great Migration” black families 
from the American south, and now a part by Latinos in “Mexico of the Midwest”. 
But I’m stuck way, way back in the once-heavily Jewish Lawndale where I grew up knowing exactly who I was due to 
Chicago’s rigid ethnic boundaries.  South of Ogden Ave. the Irish beat you up especially at Easter because you killed Christ.  
West of Pulaski Road the Poles chased you because you made out with their luscious sisters and because, well, they’re Poles.  
East of California Street you dare not stroll because the feared Eyetalians – the African Americans of my time – would surely 
kill you with a Sicilian dagger. Or so we believed, with some justice.
Ah, for the good old days when the only guns you saw were on movie screens (who could afford a pistol?), 
petty survival crime like shoplifting was the norm, and our next door neighbor was the local expert in setting no-casualty 
insurance fires in bankrupt stores. 
To the point of obsession I’m umbilically attached to North Lawndale’s square mile.  I track new killings in the newspaper 
to see is it’s on my turf.  And, decades past my time, was compelled to attend graduation at my old grammar school on 16th Street.
I even dream about Lawndale’s garbage-strewn alleys, its churches (St Agatha’s where the priest let me use the gym until 
I announced that Jesus was the first labor organizer) and monumental synagogues like “Chicago’s Jerusalem”, 
Anshe Kanesses, now either vandalized/demolished or adapted to crumbling Baptist temples.
In Lawndale’s sight line you have a clear view for miles out to the horizon because so many buildings have been 
torched in riots or by absentee landlords or demoralized tenants.
Yet the neighborhood itself, shorn of its ashen rubble, is rather beautifully laid out with parks and broad avenues.  North Shore
snobs called us a slum, but for us kids it was the Land of Oz, a universe unto itself where you learned what’s what about life.  
Exiles from Boston’s Southie, LA’s Boyle Heights and Glasgow’s Gorbals may feel likewise.
I’ve gone back to Lawndale several times and toured alongside black Fillmore Station cops (each with a .45, a hipster .38 and 
ankle .25 plus Mossberg shotgun in the rack) the only safe way for a white guy to stay alive. 
Don’t get me started on Chicago cops who, in the midst of a murder spike, have backed off making arrests by a rebellious 80%.  
They want to stay alive and unsued, especially after a white cop on Pulaski – my street! – pumped 16 bullets into the fetal-prone 
body of black teenager Laquan Macdonald, a murder covered up by the mayor until after his re-election.  And  
on Homan Square – my street! – Chicago police have “disappeared” more than 7000 people in their own Abu Ghraib 
in an abandoned Sears warehouse, detaining them “off the books” without access to lawyers and sometimes toilets.
Solution?  Send in the therapists, organize Mexican-style Autodefensas community militias, or gentrify my sweet, smelly old 
neighborhood to bring down the crime rate.