Sep 26, 2005
On Labor Day weekend, on the Southwest side of Chicago, there was a block party, which is quite common in the city. It's a chance for people to socialize, for neighbors to get to know each other better and they often discuss the problems they face every day. The main problem in this neighborhood is gang activity.
The party went on, and about 11:30 p.m. a car sped into the street which was still full of people, including children. This car almost hit a kid. Since the street was still closed at the other end, the driver decided to go onto the sidewalk. One of the people at the party threw something at the car. He, like all of us, was very upset at what we were witnessing.
Three gang bangers came into the block to support the driver. We started to tell them that they shouldn't drive like that with so many people in the street. Then one of the gang bangers said, "So what if we do? Do you have a problem?" Then about 20 friends visiting one person surrounded the gang bangers and confronted them. The gang bangers waved over other of their gang friends from the end of the street to get help. Because we were so many, only a few teenagers came to help them. They were defiant and threatening people, but our large group escorted them down to the end of the street. They got into their cars and sped away.
Once they left, a big debate began in the street whether we were right to confront them. Some people, including some of those who had surrounded the gang bangers, said it was a mistake, we couldn't win, we were acting stupid, we had kids and were endangering them. Others defended what we did, saying we were right to stand up for ourselves. If we didn't confront the problem, we'd live for the rest of our lives with it.