Category Archives: Crime

Violence on Lake Shore Drive mars July 4th celebrations

On Independence Day, scores of youth descended en masse on Chicago’s lakefront in a scene that erupted in a mob-style beating on the lakefront trail and another group attack that spilled into the southbound outer lanes of Lake Shore Drive.

The holiday weekend and inviting weather kept the lakefront busy throughout much of the city yesterday. More than 125,000 visitors were expected at Navy Pier, where officials closed the gates two and a half hours before the 9:30 p.m. show because crowds had already reached full capacity. Just north of Navy Pier, bicyclists and joggers were joined by a steadily growing number of people strolling the lakefront or staking out spots along its raised steps to take in the show.

By around 7:00 p.m., large numbers of young teens were appearing on the lakefront, some in small groups and others in throngs of perhaps a hundred or more. As a whole the group was somewhat amorphous, sometimes coming together in a nearly singular critical mass, other times scattering and remaining in smaller, separate units before reuniting again.

In multiple instances, members of the group surrounded bystanders seated on lakefront’s concrete steps waiting for the fireworks to begin. It was unclear whether the assailants wanted only to intimidate the victims – or to rob them, flash-mob style. Groups of a dozen or more suddenly sat down on both sides of victims, while standing in front of them and also walking up behind them. Within moments, an individual, couple or family would be surrounded by a large, unknown, menacing group of teens. Some got up and walked away, clearly shaken, and others bravely held their ground.

People walking, jogging or biking did not seem to face harassment, other than the obstruction of walking and biking lanes by certain members of the group who swaggered arms-length apart down the lakefront, taking up an outsized portion of the walkway.

Around 7:20 or 7:25, the first fight broke out, several hundred yards north of Navy Pier in front of 850 N. Lake Shore Drive. It happened quickly: there was a commotion near the sidewalk (on the raised, western edge of the lakefront) which quickly moved to the middle of the lakefront. A mob chased a young man into the middle of the lakefront, where he fell to the ground and they continued to kick him until several uniformed police officers on bicycle arrived.

Chicago Police officers interrupted an assault on the lakefront yesterday evening after 7 p.m.

Chicago Police officers interrupted an assault on the lakefront yesterday evening after 7 p.m.

At  7:38, another major assault erupted. Dozens of teens streamed across Lake Shore Drive itself and beat another victim until officers quickly approached and the crowd fled the scene. Others approached a stopped motorist at the intersection of Chestnut & Lake Shore Drive and appeared to harass or threaten the driver. Vehicles on the major north-south freeway braked and stopped to avoid the stream of people rushing across the lanes, or were alternatively stopped by police officers who followed them.

Updates with more information and analysis to follow…

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Race riots once more?

Excellent article by Heather MacDonald in City Journal about the twentieth anniversary of the LA Riots. Law enforcement should be ready for such events, prepared to act swiftly and decisively to put a stop to them. If the George Zimmerman is acquitted, cops could be put to the test, she writes.

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The trouble with hate crimes

Bill Keller writes a surprisingly cogent piece for the The New York Times. The idea of criminalizing not only crime but the thought behind it gives him “…the nagging sense that hate crime legislation resembles something from an Orwell dystopia.” He also interestingly points out that hate crime legislation can promote ready-made narratives that opportunists such as Al Sharpton can easily latch onto to stoke tension for political or economic gain.

Keller is not only a columnist for The Times but also its former executive editor. In the piece, he cites his own views as well as those of liberal academic Heidi Hurd, who also rejects hate crime laws. So while conservatives have lamented hate crime legislation for some time, his observations on this topic might turn some heads – and hopefully get some people re-thinking their support for these unfortunate statutes that cloud our code of justice.

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The New Republic on Jeff Smith

Jason Zengerle of TNR profiles the former state senator’s fall from grace. (Subscription required to access full article).

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Filed under Crime, Missouri Politics

Assange unweaves a world wide web

Al Capone didn’t pay taxes, and Julian Assange – apparently – didn’t wear a condom. Both were public enemies and perhaps controversial heroes to a few. They may share the fate of avoiding the wrap they deserved, but earning another in the end. The contrast of the two characters is a good illustration of how the times have changed.

Capone ran an underground empire of liquor, gambling, prostitution and other rackets and was targeted by city cops and the feds. Assange operates on the net to throw geopolitics into tumult, and is now held by one country, openly wanted by another and perhaps not so openly by others.

Assange shows that one rogue on the net can damage our diplomatic efforts and potentially disrupt worldwide political security. The web may the most important and vulnerable shared societal space in the world. Its freedom and safety promise continued dynamism and interconnectivity.

Its ever-increasing vitality to our economic and political infrastructure means that its influence and its openness are not without the risks that we take for granted in the real – as opposed to virtual – worlds. In fifty years, we may look back and see this as one of the first major incidences which brought that reality into view.

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Belleville school bus beating

If you have yet to watch the video of the Belleville school bus beating, here’s the clip. The incident is disturbing and viewer discretion is advised:

What transpired on the bus – as seen on the tape – is nothing less than full scale criminal assault. That may or may not be valid legal definition, but as a practical matter, that’s what occurred. Not one, but at least two young men (these are not small, grade school boys but aggressive, physically mature high school students) repeatedly strike and choke the young victim, who initially attempts to defend himself but ultimately absorbs the majority of the blows, his face beaten and bloodied in the process. The attackers were both black and the victim was white; police have suggested the incident may have been racially motivated.

It sounds as if one student yells “stop the bus” during the assault, and another student, according to one newspaper account, picked up the victim’s glasses and handed them to him. So at least two students on the bus may have stood with the victim in that sense. I mention that because it’s important not to paint this busload of students with a broad brush.

Nonetheless, what adds to the incident’s disturbing nature is the fact that many if not all the other students fail to intervene (there is one person who seems to temporarily engage in a subdued effort to restrain one of the assailants). Instead, some students cheer the attackers on, and the group as a whole is entertained and excited as they watch the bloody attack take place.

Two suspects are in custody, and initial statements from school and law enforcement officials seem to strike the appropriately serious tone. With this type of video evidence and as many eye witnesses as were present (who may or may not talk), this case should be open and shut.

One thing is clear: this violent behavior must not be tolerated, excused or justified in any way whatsoever. Regardless of motive, prosecutors should move aggressively on this case for the sake of justice and as a deterrent against future such attacks. The perpetrators should be incarcerated or perhaps sent to a special juvenile facility where they can continue their education while receiving the discipline and structure they require.

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“White Student Beaten on School Bus; Crowd Cheers”

That’s the lead headline at Drudge, who links to a story from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Developing….

Will follow this one.

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