Crime scares me. I am not afraid of crime because of an anxiety that I will be robbed. Nor am I afraid because of some nervous undertone of violence. I am not afraid of it because of some idea of an unknown threat that causes harm. Crime scares me, because crime scares people. And when people are afraid, a more primitive instinct surfaces— an instinct that chooses a stereotype over diversity, accusations over building community, and authority (police force) over understanding. Crime scares me because people use it as a tool to decide who “belongs” and who is considered an outsider.
In the video of what is now being tagged as the “Boystown Brawl” you will see a group of young people fighting in one of the gay club districts of Chicago. The Chicago Police Department has stated that this was an “isolated incident,” but that is a hard argument to make to many of the white gay middle/upper class males that live in the Boystown neighborhood of Chicago. In the past few years the racial and class tension in Boystown has already been reported by several mediums (including Chicago Tribune, NBC, and Chicago Reader). There is no secret that these “tensions” exists.
There are two issues I have with this whole situation. The first revolves around “attention” and the second is about stories that seem to be forgotten when these issues come up.
My issue with the attention that this “brawl” is getting troubles me. As you can see from the video, the fight was horrific and to see it should cause people to want to take some form of action to stop violence. However, I am troubled that people only find the need for urgency when something like this takes place in white, middleclass, and conservative communities. Fights like this take place everyday and recently Chicago became the murder capital of the country. So Yes, there is an urgency to stop violence in the city, however, to say that Boystown should have more police attention is a ridiculous statement, especially because it remains one of the safest neighborhoods in the city. When fights like this take place in marginalized poor black communities, I wonder why it receives less attention, why it is seen as less urgent, and why less affluent communities do not receive the attention that is actually needed. Why are there facebook pages with thousands of “likes” dedicated to “taking back Boystown.” My concern is who had it in the first place, who took it, and who exactly is trying to “take it back”?
On a side note, I’m not sure I trust the police in general when it comes to dealing with crime. From personal experience I have witnessed the police do more harassing to innocent people who are the wrong color at the wrong time, than actually stopping crime from happening.
This issue in Boystown only highlights the truths about our society that individuals in other communities experience everyday of their lives. However, many of those stories remain invisible because they are not in positions of power and privilege to have their voices heard. These are the stories that are forgotten. The narratives of the everyday struggle for peace. But also the history of white gay male communities that revolves around the marginalization of queer people of color. There are the stories we cannot forget when crimes like the “Boystown brawl” gets the attention of the masses. I will say it again, Crime scares me, because crime scares people, and I have seen what people are capable of when they are afraid.