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Mitchell Column: Beverly landscape tilting scales of justice in beating

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Themis, the daughter of Uranus in Greek mythology, evolved to be depicted as a woman holding a pair of scales in one hand and a sword in another. She is blindfolded to show that justice is impartial, and her sword represents the power that is held by those administering that justice.

Although known by many names, Themis is commonly referred to as "Lady Justice."

I'd like to think of Themis as a mother. Because only a mother can hold a sword in one hand and a pair of scales in another. But I've seen mothers, still weeping over a child's untimely death, who couldn't buy even the illusion of justice.

So I don't take lightly the pain Ryan Rusch's family has had to endure since they learned he was attacked by three teens while playing in a park. I don't dismiss, not for a moment, the anger this white mother must have felt when she was told her son was attacked by three black youths for his cell phone.

There's no greater pain than not being able to protect one's child from the haters in life -- whether those haters are bullies on a playground or shooters in a drive-by. If a mother could, she would use her own body to shield her child from these cruelties.

But she can't. All she can do is demand and expect justice.

Location shouldn't matter

Unfortunately, while the sculpture of Themis is blindfolded, the people who get involved when a crime is committed are not. That's why the Burge report should have sent shock waves across the city. It was proof that the criminal justice system was corrupted at the basic level -- in precincts and jail cells.

The same forces that drove everyone involved to ignore evidence about the documented tortures revealed in the Burge report are the same forces that still conspire to pervert justice. I'm not talking about individuals. I'm talking about the attitude that political expediency trumps the moral obligation to seek justice that is impartial and fair.

That's what I see happening in the Ryan Rusch case.

Without a doubt, when a fragile 14-year-old boy is not safe from a violent attack in a neighborhood park in a community of upscale homes, you know there will be pressure to mete out severe punishment. And because the victim was white and the attackers were black, there was reason enough for police and prosecutors to investigate the attack as a hate crime.

But apparently, because charging the teens with a hate crime would not enhance their punishment, prosecutors have added attempted murder to the charges.

Really, how do prosecutors justify charging these teens with aggravated battery, robbery and attempted murder in a case where the teens beat up the victim and stole his cell phone?

If convicted of a Class X felony, the 16-year-olds would be remanded to a juvenile facility until they are 21. If a judge grants the prosecutors' motion to charge both teens as adults, the additional charge means they would also face 6 to 30 years in an adult prison.

Although charges against Micha Eatman, the 17-year-old, have not been upgraded to attempted murder, it is expected that prosecutors will make that request at his next court appearance.

An attorney for one of the teens claimed that the upgraded charges were politically motivated.

"You can't ignore the neighborhood in which [the beating] occurred," Kathy Roller, an assistant Cook County public defender, said in juvenile court. "Beverly is known as being a very political part of the city."

In other words, had this crime happened in Englewood, Roseland or Garfield Park, it is unlikely that these teens would be facing attempted murder charges. But justice should not be guided by where a crime is committed, the race of the victim or the race of the offenders.

As horrible as the crime is, it just doesn't rise to the level of attempted murder.

Memories of Clark case

Attempted murder fits what Zachariah Blanton, 17, of Gaston, Ind., is accused of doing. Last weekend, Blanton took allegedly his high-powered rifle and went on a shooting spree along Interstate 65 and Interstate 69, killing one man and injuring another. Indiana authorities charged the youth with murder, attempted murder and criminal recklessness.

The closest parallel to the Rusch case is the brutal, racially motivated 1998 beating of black teen Lenard Clark in the Bridgeport community. That attack left Clark with permanent brain damage.

The ringleader in that assault, Frank Caruso Jr., was charged with attempted murder, aggravated battery and hate crimes. But a jury was not convinced Caruso was trying to kill Clark and acquitted him on the attempted murder charges. He was sentenced to eight years in prison and served three.

Two others involved, Michael Kwidzinski, 21, and Victor Jasas, 18, didn't serve any time in prison. After plea bargaining, their punishments were reduced to probation -- two years for Kwidzinski and 30 months for Jasas.

I understand why the Beverly community is outraged over this senseless act of violence.

But Lady Justice is blind. And she never abuses her sword.

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62 Comments

Ms. Mitchell,

Whenever anyone gets assaulted, beaten or has any sort of crime committed against them, it is senseless, whether it be black on black, black on white, white on black, white on white, or any other race or religion being involved. You state in your article that the kids in the Rusch case shouldn't be charged with attempted murder, why because they are black? You also state that the case closely related to this case is the Clark case, so it is o.k. that Caruso was charged with attempted murder, why because he is white? Fact, Ryan Rusch was beaten to near death by 3 teens, put aside the fact that they are black...he was beaten to near death! They could have just taken his cell phone, did they have to beat him to near death? NO! This should outrage anyone with a heart, HE IS A CHILD! Black people have to stop playing the race card, it hurts more than it helps. You are a voice of the black people Ms. Mitchell, maybe you can shed some light on the race issue to the people? Please help!

Mary,
It's been a while since the Caruso crime. Was there anything premeditated about it? It doesn't seem so. An underplayed element in the recent crime is that these boys went looking for a victim. They traveled miles to hunt down Ryan. The cell phone taken from his pocket was not a lure. Perhaps, it was a bow to political pressure to charge Caruso with attempted murder. I don't fault the State's Attorney too much for that bow. Certainly, this crime should not be prosecuted more lightly just because the victim is not African American.
Oh, by the way, a father could hold a sword in one hand and scales in the other.

Mary,

As in the case of Frank Caruso, a jury will decide whether the evidence in this case is sufficient enough to convict these 3 youths of attempted murder. Chances are, they too will be acquitted of that charge. Did you think the charge against Caruso was warranted? If Ryan Rusch would have had permanent brain damage as a result of this brutal, senseless attack, would you then feel that the charges were justified?

Actually, kicking someone in the head is attempted murder. Its not simply a punch in the nose. That is an easy one. Kicking a head is clear intent to kill. The standard is how the victim feels: this kid felt they were trying to kill him. And the results. The criminals chose a kid with a heart condition: you take your plaintiff as you find them.

kick my head, and I will presume you are trying to kill me, and I will defend myself accordingly.

As long as black leaders remain dismissive of horrible brutalities like this, I doubt race relations will improve anytime soon.

his is called intellectual dishonesty.
And, they keep apologizing for these kids. Sorry, cant blame rich white people in lincoln park for this one.

I cant imagine what my parents would have done to me had I committed such an act, but, apparently its cultural.

This little boy could have died from this brutal and senseless beating. I am outraged as if this was my son. I don't feel sorry for these young thugs who's parents should have taught them some morals and values. I agree that the youths that beat Lenard Clark should have had a more harsh sentence, but that does not excuse the teens that attacked this little boy. What happens when the next little boy in the park that comes along with a cell phone is beat to death? I believe a message needs to be sent. Parents raise your kids right. Teenagers you will be punished to the fullest extent of the Law if you commit a violent act against a defensless little kid. I don't care what race or nieghborhood, you will go to jail. Cassius M. Williams

So, a question - what about the ongoing racial violence IN the jails?

I'd strongly recommend people check out www.spr.org / aka stopprisonrape.org

Really, how do prosecutors justify charging these teens with aggravated battery, robbery and attempted murder in a case where the teens beat up the victim and stole his cell phone?

EAsily. They kicked at his head. come on mary, how about a little less intellectual dishonesty. Again, three criminals kicked at his head. Thats not a punch in the nose or arm. "beat him up to take his cell phone?" no, they kicked at his head, intending to hurt his brain so he would die.

you seem to justify it based on Burge, and some other thugs from a 95 beating case. AS if whites deserve this?

Re-read steinbergs column. You could learn a lot from him.

Sure, Lady Justice may be blind. But she ain't stupid.

Caruso getting off so easy was wrong - I agree. I disagree, however, that Michael Eatman shouldn't get an attempted murder charge. Frankly, I think he should be put to death.

I am not a fan of most kids raised in the City. The latchkey environment, passive parenting and largely irresponsible nature in which they are raised is laughable. These parents produce rude, self-important, materialistic, arrogant and often just plain ignorant kids. The traits I just listed are easily ascribed to many teens and looked at as a "phase," but we all know thats not the case here.

Still, there are also a great many talented and intelligent kids, going to the service, college and into the workforce.

But Michael Eatman falls into a category just below human. He and the other violent, reckless idiots like him are simply animals.

These animals, raised in Chicago's streets, are a danger to us all. They are why there is a new "black flight" (not unlike, of course, white flight) - a new wrinkle in the age old notion that it is acceptable, maybe even good, that upwardly mobile blacks abandon traditionally African-American communities. If there was any chance of quelling that trend, to be sure, these beasts, who would be a child because, as they state, they believe him to be a "goofy white boy," well, that chance is good.

I have changed my mind over time, from believing that those with talents to offer to the community should be willing to give of themselves, and decided it is best to distance my family from these animals. My child will grow up in an environment surrounded by a family and community of academics. With any blessings from God, he will turn out to be a bit of what kids call a nerd: smart, well-read, intellectually curious and talented. And I don't need one of Michael Eatman's little "homies" attacking him for it.

The people in West Beverly are wrong when they make this about race (though their myopia is understandable, given their community's make-up and the language used by Eatman). Its a safety issue for us all. I have a friend who refuses to do any business or engage in any activity west of Ashland or further north than 95th Street until you get to the downtown area. I used to think that was silly. Maybe its just a way to stay safe.

I am writing this letter feeling deeply concerned taht you can commit a crime in the U.S., found guilty, and be excused because the victims plea weren't taken seriously. I witnessed Mr. Borge getting off without any prosecution due to the statue of limitations. If our gov't abides by this very same statue of limitations, how is this same gov't going after people who have committed war crimes against humanity. Just last year or two someone who stayed in the suburbs of Chicago was found to be a high ranking officer with the Nazi's, watching over the concetration camps in Germany(holocaust). Also, it took ten to twenty years to finally find someone involved with bombing the church in Alabama killing those young black girls attending Sunday school. If our gov't is still solving crimes against humanity or say crimes against Americans, this should fit the category.

You forgot that the young man who was beat by his own prosthesis,before the young men were caught alot of people assumed it was minorities who commited the crime, it was front page fodder ,that is until it was disclosed that the thugs who did it were white thugs, then suddenly you dont hear anything else about it.Violence against anyone is unacceptable not just when it fits the media stereotype that certain races commit more crimes then others .Criminality is a individual choice the ,choice is yours you just better be ready to pay the price no matter what color you are.

Wasn't Frank Caruso Outfit-connected?

Not many folks of any color have the luxury of *those* kind of connections...

you cant compare the beating of the boy with the prosthesis with the beating in Beverly because the boy with the prosthesis wasn't beat, his friend was, and was not seriously injured. if you read further into that story you will realize that those boys reached inside the guys car trying to take his keys away. Not the justification for a beating, but not smart either.

It appears that we people (and I mean WE THE PEOPLE! as in...Americans)just don't seem to get it. I believe Ms Mitchell's point was missed by many. She is not attempted to lighten the case for this young boy's situation. She is not saying that the attackers should not be punished for their cruel crime. Any such crime against another human being should be meted with equal justice. The case here is that, when blacks are the victims and whites are the cause of the crime, it's usually treated as a lesser crime. But when whites are victims to such cruel treatment by blacks...it becomes an inhuman thing to the public's eye. I pray that the Rusch child will heal, become healthy again. I, also pray that the attackers are punished. But, I pray most that people of this nation, be they white, black, etc. will come to realize that crime is crime, regardless of the race of the victim or the perpetrators. Justice should be blind to race and it should be fair. A white person should not serve 3years for a crime and a black person be given and be forced to serve 6-30years for the same conviction. I feel for the victim and his family and I FEAR for the people of this nation. We seem to be divided in everything, except the thought of our precious, sick city being labeled as "fat".

George Jarrett

In response to fair and equal sentencing for all...I totally agree, but, please remember that sentencing is also based on previous criminal convictions, whether if that person is black or white.

If the races were reversed Mary would have no problem with the attempted murder charges.

Mary I'm total agreement with you. We the only nation that supposed to be so about "human right" that have a justice for black on white crime and different justice for white on black crime. than we alway wondering why the people in arab nation look on u.s. as hypocrit when they over there telling them how to live and treat there people with injustices that done here with our two classed society. When is african-american going to realize lynching haven't went anywhere; they just have another way of doing it legally and getting away with it. when justice is meted out by the color, where you live and rather you can afford to hire your own attorney other than public defenders to defend your case. so those teens going be rail roaded; but they should be tried as a hate crime than get off like the perpetrator in the clark case with an slap on the wrist.

Mary,

I lost you. I am interpreting your article to mean that the attempted murder charges against Caruso were justified because Clark was beaten so badly that he developed brain damage; It wasn't a robbery, it was purely a beating, so that is more deserving of the attempted murder charge?
With the Beverly Park incident how do you know that the cell phone wasn't just an added "benefit" to those who beat Rusch? From what I understand the Rusch child was on the ground trying to protect himself from kicks to the head. Seems a little excessive from 3 youths trying to just take a cell phone and rob someone. My guess is that Ryan would have gladly emptied his pockets AND given up the cell phone to avoid getting a beating...but I don't suppose he was given the choice. But for the grace of God, Mr. Rusch won't suffer brain damage. The circumstances seem much too similar to me to be able to see the difference. Tell me again why attempted murder charges should have been filed in one situation and not the other. Seems pretty hypocritical to me.

Isn't it interesting that Caruso was tried in the Clark case with attempted murder AND a hate crime? Now the States Attorney says that there's no need to try the black thugs in the Rusch beating with a hate crime because it wouldn't add to the penalty.

This is another example of how there is one code of laws for blacks and another for whites. No matter how racist the act, a black will almost never be tried with a hate crime.

Mary
I kind of wonder how the tone of your article might have changed if the victims were all of one race, white or black?

All Mary is saying is both situations should have the same charges. It is as simple as that. Period, end of story. Both crimes are senseless, and no one should walk away from that. Beating someone is not by accident. It is a crime of anger. You should be in jail for years for that.

Ms. Mitchell, Are you serious? This innocent boy was beaten into unconsciousness and needed to be placed in a coma to stop his brain from swelling, and you don't think this is attempted murder? The fact that someone witnessed the beating is probably the only reason that these vicious teens stopped the merciless beating and will not be facing murder charges rather than attempted murder. In your opinion, what constitutes attempted murder? Maybe if Ryan Rusch were hospitalized for a longer perioid of time, or had permanent brain damage, that would do it for you. I too, believe that the teens in the Lenard Clark case should have been charged with attempted murder. And if I had served on that jury, I would have done everything in my power to see that they were convicted of such.
If you are seriously suggesting that the teens who beat Ryan Rusch were simply after his cell phone, you are insulting your readers' intelligence. The fact that he was overpowered by size and number, they simply had to demand the phone and I'm sure that would have been the end of it. But they proceeded to kick him in the head, strike his head with a blunt object and repeatedly lift and bang his head off of the concrete. All this because he was a "goofy looking white boy". If I live to be one hundred, I'll never understand what would possess a human being to inflict such bodily harm o another human being, especially an innocent kid. But just as I believed Lenard Clark's attackers should have been sentenced for attempted murder, I firmly believe that Ryan Rusch's attackers should serve the maximum amount of time for this heinous crime. This is not the first offense for two of the three teens either. When is it going to stop, when they actuall do kill someone?

Ms. Mitchell, if these teens are found guilty of attempted murder and justice prevails, I will feel safer knowing that they are behind bars, and hopefully trying to rehabilitate themselves. However, if our justice system fails us as in the Lenard Clark case, I hope you or your loved ones never happen upon the depraved teens while strolling through the park on a sunny afternoon. Bridget O'Donnell

Mary,
I read your column about the Rush crime not being attempted murder. Last night I read the most detailed story of the crime that appeared in the Beverly Review. "The two juveniles then took turns kicking the victim in the head and body."

"They repeatedly punched, kicked, and stomped the victim."

The injuries the victim sustained suggested that his head was lifted and hit into the ground by one of the teens.

The injuries caused Rusch to experience seizures, swelling of the brain, abrasions to the body and brain trauma."

Kicking in the head, lifting his head and smashing it into the ground. Sounds like they were trying to kill him.

Very good column.

"The same forces that drove everyone involved to ignore evidence about the documented tortures revealed in the Burge report are the same forces that still conspire to pervert justice. I'm not talking about individuals. I'm talking about the attitude that political expediency trumps the moral obligation to seek justice that is impartial and fair."

In the Suntimes today, Dick Divine, County prosecutor stated that his office is more interested in justice than how many cases they try and win.

I sincerly hope that State's Attorney Divine take a look at this case and see on the face that the crime does not fit attempted murder.

However, in situations like these we have to remember that this corrupted world is led by people with more political motivation that humanitarian. As such, we have to rely on GOD for "divine justice" when the justice system ignores humanity and put politics at the forefront.

No one can escape GOD's wrath or escape "divine justice"

In my opinion, the problem here is that the boy's weren't initially charged with attempted murder from the beginning. Race should have been brought up only after the fact. I believe the situation may be looked at differently from all the individuals that are so interested. Unfortunately, race comes into any act against another color or nationality. People can't even read the facts before throwing up the race card!

Let's face it, the boy's were out to cause trouble in the first place, either by stealing a bike or as it turns out, beating the crap out of someone. Apparently they chose the later. At that, someone much smaller than any one of the three. If they really just wanted a cell phone, why couldn't they do that in their own neighborhoods? There are a hell of allot of cell phones in any neighborhood, black or white! Race comes into play for the obvious reason of traveling several miles to a white neighborhood instead of committing the crime in any one of the three boy's neighborhoods. Let's face it, stealing a cell phone wasn't their only intention. And, if it WAS the only thing they wanted, did it justify the beating to get it? Do you really think little boy was going to take on all three before giving up the phone? Jeeze... good God! Or does it get worse... Maybe... just maybe, the three boys feared for their very own lives and had to beat the innocent boy in effort to spare their own lives!! Come on! Wake up. Your implying just another example on how we treat criminals like the victims.

It's another senseless act by senseless individuals. All the time and effort we spend thinking about whether it was race related, or better yet, making it race related. But yet we can't spend anytime figuring out why it happened in the first place. Is this their normal way of life? Is that what their friends do? Is that what they're relatives do? Did they see that the night before on a TV show? Worse yet, is that what they're parents do?? In other words, did these boys follow by example and if so, if they are merely followers, what will be done with the leaders?

I understand your feelings on the issue Mary. You are right that the scales of justice are tipped in favor on politically connected whites and that people of color do not stand a chance. We need to start teaching our children of color this reality.

How do we fix this mess? People in your position need to start holding corrupt cops responsible for their actions; call them out by name if necessary. That is the only way: shame them into righteousness.

I was commenting to my wife the other day that I'd rather my daughter marry a gang-banger than a cop. I could at least send a gang-banger to school and clean him up. There is less hope for cops nowadays. It's a sad commentary, I know. But it's also today's reality in Chicago.

i find you a very talented writer because you make people think. as for your article on the Beverley beating of Ryan Rausch you've made me think that you have lost your *#*&#!! mind! I invite you to lie down on the ground defenseless and have three predators take turns kicking you in the head. (then just for fun we'll throw in a heart defect ). then you can tell me, or more importantly Ryan and his family if you think attempted murder charges are warranted! I don't try to throw race into every issue , but it seems to me that it is your bias agenda to excuse , or confuse every issue . You make this more complicated than it needs to be . It is not a question of race. It is a question of right or wrong. the closest thing to justice in today's world will have to be a LONG prison sentence. unfortunately ,i guess that will have to suffice .

I feel that the only reason why the Ryan Rusch story made so much press was because this is a sickly boy, who was attacked and beaten and had his cell phone stolen. Just like the story about the boy with the prosthetic leg made news. Anyhow, if he wasn't sickly, missing a heart valve, would he have been injured as badly? Probably not. Should the offenders be charged with attempted murder? No, because they didn't try to kill the boy. Last I heard, people who commit crimes don't ask for a medical history of their victims. Charge them with battery, robbery, aggravated assault, whatever charges fit the bill of the actions of these boys, but attempted murder is just political maneuvering to placate the people who are upset that the offenders aren't charged with a hate crime..

I do have another thought on this: maybe he wouldn't have been a target had he been a bigger, healthier kid. The boy was 5'1". I am by no means saying that what happened to Ryan was his fault. Just that these are factors into why he was attacked. I truly don't think these boys would have attacked someone 6'1" 250lbs on the football team! If Ryan had been attacked by white youths, we'd have still seen it on the tv and in the papers.

But it was black youths who beat him up and stole his phone. Which throws in the race card. I don't think this WAS a hate crime, it seems to me that the boy was targeted because he was an easy mark. Not because he was white, but because these boys figured they could rob this little skinny boy easily and get away with it. If Ryan was a skinny black kid, they'd have still attacked him, if Ryan was a skinny Asian kid, they'd have still attacked him.

You are a perfect example why the black community is by and large still a failure in this country while other ethnic groups thrive. You need that crutch of rasim to explain why so many black youth wind up in jail, it's whitey's fault! No, you are stuck in the plantation because of your race's own decisions. 1) 90% of blacks vote democratic meaning no other option. Your schools are the worst, your neighborhoods are the worst crime ridden and decaying and you still vote for the same people, now tell me how is that the Republicans fault. 2) Welfare you sold your souls for public aid and public housing. It lost a generation and the black male was less likely to hang around with an income of welfare coming in, black leadership sold its soul to FDR, LBJ for great society generation destroying programs. When there is no reason to work, why work? 3) Hip Hop- The degradation of women and glorification of drug dealing and gang banging, and the bling bling mentality. Are working on destroying a new generation of young blacks. We all had jobs at Mcdonalds and other fast food places in HS, now these kids want to deal drugs and knuckleheads like you validate that excuse. So I ask you, an intelligent lady of African American descent...who is to blame for the current problems in the black community? Thanks and have a nice day.

Wow Mr. Jimmy Ives. You've just managed to set race relations back to the stone ages. What worries me is that your unenlightened views are probably shared by too many people. I wonder if you put any kind of real effort in your analysis or if you just repeat what right-wing pundits spew all over Fox News or CNN. You should really go back and analyze the racist policies that plague this country's history. Ask yourself why Chicago Public Schools in poor minority neighborhoods are a mess when just a few miles away, white kids in the suburbs are getting a first rate education. If you do not see that there is a plan in place, and that both Democrats and Republicans are complicit, then we really do not stand a chance. Because it is the powers that be that depend on people like you to perpetuate the gross stereotypes you were so kind enough to share with us.

Mary,

Open your eyes you are too ignorant to even accept the fact that this is a hate crime and attempted murder. Just because some crime that happened almost 10 years ago wasn't charged the way you saw fit doesn't mean these boys that committed the crime should walk off free. Stop blaming white people for black problems. You wonder why 90% of prisons in the U.S are full of blacks is because they have committed those crimes. I'm positive the same sentence would have been dealt if they were white boys as well. I bet you will not show this post because you are not ignorant and won't accept the true of somethings. Very sad Mary on your part!!!

How are white neighborhoods the reason black schools are failing? 50 years of worshipping liberalism has left the African American community in schambels. You say stereo types ,I say the truth letslook at reality, locally elected officals have the most say on how education funds are spent and what kids are taught! Rev Meeks is the first elected Af Am offical who is calling it what it is! The teachers unions run ruffshod over kids. I see one race that has CHOSEN one party to speak for it, now how is the other party responsible? African american communities has been told how these liberal ideas will save their families have destroyed them from the 60's on! You keep blaming people who had very little to do with the foodstamp mantality in the black community today. Until the african american community accepts part or most of the blame for its failures itself, they will never fully prosper! I love liberals who try to pass the blame, when we fail in life its really no ones fault but our own!

Mr. Davila,
Some years ago I had a freshman student in my division (homeroom). He was a from a Mexican background and was a charming individual. Unfortunately, he decided to go with the gangbangers and wound up with a fatal gunshot wound in St. Mary's Cemetary when other gangbangers decided they didn't want him around anymore. I'm sure his parents, who are good people, tried their best to steer him in the right direction. The three boys who beat Ryan Rusch did damage to the community as well. People have a right to live without fear of being attacked or robbed. They deserve severe punishment for their actions.

Mary-
Ryan Rusch was beaten so badly he was having a seizure when passerby came to his aide. He was then taken to the hospital where he was put on a ventilator!
"Really, how do prosecutors justify charging these teens with aggravated battery, robbery and attempted murder in a case where the teens beat up the victim and stole his cell phone?"

Outside teenagers have been coming to Beverly to steal bikes every summer, since I was a kid (twenty years ago). This story is as old as time every local can tell you a story of young black kids riding two to a bike cruising the parks and returning home riding alone on a 'found' bike.
These thugs came to beverly in search of a victim, with three kids riding two bikes. (Perhaps hoping to return home with three kids and three bikes?) They cruised back and forth around the neighborhood until they came across "a funny looking WHITE kid".
I wonder how you would feel if white kids from Beverly routinely rode through Maywood looking to victimize your young black neighbors.
These kids went far beyond the usual crime we endure down here, they tried to beat an innocent kid to death.
A just society should not tolerate that behavior from anyone regardless of their race.
Want to address racism Mary? Start with the person staring back at you in the mirror.
You make me want to wretch.
-Pat

No, Edgar your train of thought has led to no major changes in our community. You keep buying that liberal crap that ruined our schools and neighborhoods, why is it that a white neighborhood outside of the city has a better grad rate when we pay MORE PER PUPIL? Because we accept mediocrity and we cry racism because of our bad decisions as a community! You talk about stereotypes, I talk about what is the truth! How can we really make positive changes and if someone tells the truth, then they are a racist in your book, no wonder we get NO WHERE as a people!

wow edgar Davilla, you really have swallowed the nonsense of failing schools, hook, line and sinker.

go read neil steinbergs column, with respect to THE rev. meeks. Hits the nail on the head, it does.

white people who suggest that blacks 1) be frugal 2) care for your kdis education, and 3) stop committing violent crimes, is not racist.

remember that whites are a little frustrated, because they know that for every black who refuses to pay child support, property taxes, and generally care about their kids.

get off the couch, or porch, turn off Oprah, and go check their homework.

you cannot blame anyone but yourselves.

I agree with Mr. Davila concerning the ignorant blog sent in by Mr.Ives. Ives you are no better. You both know what your anti-african american and anti police opinions are like. (because you both have one)

Ms. Mitchell...

I have long been waiting for you to open up a blog space. I am a resident of the West Beverly/Mt Greenwood area and I have bitten my tongue for too long on this issue.

First and formost, I often find your column very one sided and actually use it as a source of entertainment, but this time I have to speak up.

I am very happy that our neighborhood has come together EVEN MORE now than ever due to this incident with these three "thugs". This type of animal behavior will not be tolerated in our neighborhood and I think it is being made loud and clear by the residents and even people that do not live in our neighborhood.

I find it absolutely appauling for anyone to take these criminals side on this issue.

My question is where was Jessie Jackson and Rainbow Push when the mass was said for Ryan? You got it, nowhere to be found. If the roles were reversed we would have the whole crew marching in our neighborhood of how "unjust" this is and how "racist" we all are.

Give me a break. The only thing I am hoping is the minors be charged as adults and serve the longest possible sentence for this crime.

Let this be a lesson to all that want to steal a cellphone from a "goofy white kid" that this will not be tolerated!!!!!!

Thank you

Since you don't know the medical history of someone prior to beating them, you probably shouldn't be BEATING them to begin with.
Attempted murder is a charge you risk when you lay your hands on another human being with the intent of causing bodily harm.

If someone that is drunk gets into a vehicle and drives, they don't KNOW whether or not they'll be killing someone..but it happens all too often. It's a calculated risk that you take when you don't utilize good judgement or exercise respect for other citizens.

The fact that a weapon was used in this case seems to have escaped the attention of many posters on this blog. Perhaps the media has not made that information clear.

The child was very small...thin and frail in appearance. You could tell by looking at him that he wasn't a challenge. These criminals watched him and looked upon him as prey, much the way an animal can spot weakness in the herd.

Their intent to steal was clear by the premeditation of bringing only two bikes for three riders (not to mention their admitting they were here to steal). Also, the lack of remorse on the part of the attackers and their families only adds to the tragedy in this case.

What amazes me is that the black community, and citizens such as Ms. Mitchell, is/are more outraged over who-gets-what-headline instead of focusing on the facts of the robbery and beating itself.

MITCHELL COMMENT:

I stated clearly in my column that the Rusch beating was a horrible crime. And please, tell us how you know what the "black community" is feeling?

A couple more things I would like to add about this subject is that its about Ryan. I am glad he is doing well and I hope he continues to. My thoughts are with the Rusch family.

As I was riding the train home last night, I had printed up this blog to see others opinions and to the person that blames this incident on Ryan ...... SHAME ON YOU. You stated that if he was not so tiny, this might not have happened. I am absolutely offended by that. So now I have to worry that my 10 year old, who also is small in stature, could be subject to these animals?

All of this comes down to one thing and one thing only..... UPBRINGING. If these kids were brought up properly, in case some of you are wondering I mean by that, taught respect, values, right from wrong, I could go on and on, this all would be mute point.

I know personally I am tired of our neighborhood being made to look like the ones in the wrong on this issue. If anything, it should show how our families all have the same thing in common, unity on this issue.

As for these punks being charged with attempted murder Mary.... how dare you. Do you not know the law? They INTENTIONALLY kicked and stomped on this boys head, that, in the eyes of the law, is exactly what they are being charged with. If Ryan died, thank goodness he didn't, these punks would be charged with murder, and therefore eligible for the death penalty. When you are stomping and kicking someones head, while the child is on the ground trying to protect himself, you have only one thing going through your mind, and that is to seriously injure or kill someone.

I hope this issue continues to get the press that is justly due and this issue does not get swept under the carpet. I hope that the Rusch's go after these families in civil lawsuits also.

It was great last night at Mt Greenwood Park to see all of the families from the neighborhood come together for our movie in the park. And the best part, there were tons of chldren running around until after 10 in the park and GUESS WHAT, they all got along. There was no worry about fights or problems. Therefore I think our community should continue with this issue and let it be known that this incident, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCE, will be tolerated.

Thanks to Ginger Rugai, Kevin Joyce and all of the others that have fought hard on this issue. Thank you to Ginger also for having the camera installed at Beverly Park and hopefully these will be popping up all over our neighborhood.

For future incidents, god forbid if it should happen, nothing beats video when it comes to prosecution of a case.

MITCHELL COMMENT:

Obviously you missed the point of my column since you have misinterpreted my point of view. For the record, my opinion is based on the definition of "attempted murder" versus "aggravated battery." Prosecutors will have to prove that the teens set out to murder Ryan Rusch.

As far as I am concerned, the "attempted murder" charge is a response to the community's outrage.

Given that a jury acquitted the Caruso of "attempted murder" charges in the Clark case (and he was not only beaten into a coma, he was left with brain damage), it is unlikely that that charge will stick in this case.

More importantly, yes, I dare to expect justice even when I despise the crime. The reason why so many black men were falsely accused of horrendous crimes and left to rot for decades on death row before they were exonerated is because we allowed police, prosecutors and judges to get away with injustice.

Finally, I appreciate your participation, but this is not the mary-bashing site. You can send those emails to letters@suntimes.com.

CHRISTINA..... this is to your quote (thanks to copy & paste)

"I do have another thought on this: maybe he wouldn't have been a target had he been a bigger, healthier kid. The boy was 5'1". I am by no means saying that what happened to Ryan was his fault. Just that these are factors into why he was attacked. I truly don't think these boys would have attacked someone 6'1" 250lbs on the football team! If Ryan had been attacked by white youths, we'd have still seen it on the tv and in the papers."

WELL NOW......

Its ironic how you can generalize about someone, but yet if we do, we are wrong and whatever other name you can think of.

Just because Ryan was 5'1", does not make a difference. My child is not even 5' tall and is in his third year of football. So kindly keep your generalizations in check and so will I (as I have done through this whole issue)

Mary, time and time "again," no matter what these "young 'unraised,' black boys & girls do, excuses are always made for them. I hope they "trow," the book at him, better yet a "brick." Also, since his mother is upholding her poor baby for his actions, she should be $charged$ and prosecuted as being a poor excuse for a parent and be $held$ accountable for all that poor young man's medical fees and "if," she has other poor long suffering black kids in her possession, they need to be taken. The "only," way these young black male gangster wannabee emulators will learn, is the die by the sword they "think," they want to live by. If more of these "youngsters," would reap more of what they sow, then maybe, the world would be a better place and/or the male sperm doners and female incubators would be held accountable for the life they create and not be allow to consistantly pass the buck, if they'd suffer the consequences behind this, "good childs," actions, then maybe more parents would take control, keep control over there off springs instead of subjected "others," who is living life, doing the right things in life, etc., won't be subjected to the horrors of so called, "poor long suffering, young black male thug/gangster wannabee," reap on folks. Me Myself and I, I've wised up, I purchased me a legal weapon, and hopefully someday in life, "if," I decide to have a child and can afford to give him/her a cell phone and a "poor, long suffering young black male wannabee thug gangster," decides he'd like to seek my child out, my child will have been taught and trained, not to go and "eye for an eye," but for a head for a eye or a heart for an eye. Then at least a good child's life, will be spared and the bad child will get "exactly," what they deserve and what's coming to them in life, regardless if it's at an early age! I'm serious Ms. Mitchell, it's way past time for these parent's to take control of there off springs, if not, the system is developing a great alternative for them, called the penal system. By the way Ms. Mitchell, "I'm black," you can't say it's a race thing and every time somebody calls a spade a spade, 'then it's a race thing,' No1 It's calling the S@#$# as I see it! I say, put them all under the prison along with there sorry, poor A@#$ excuse for parents!

ROBERTSON COMMENT.....

to your quote.....

Obviously you missed the point of my column since you have misinterpreted my point of view. For the record, my opinion is based on the definition of "attempted murder" versus "aggravated battery." Prosecutors will have to prove that the teens set out to murder Ryan Rusch.


The attempted murder charge is exactly that. This was in no way shape or form aggravated battery. It is exactly what they are charged with. I would love to know when this comes up for trial to sit through it. Aggravated battery would be continuously beating someone lets say on their torso. The head now, is not aggravated battery.

As for you feeling this is "Mary Bashing" well Im sorry you feel that way. I am firm in my point and if it does not agree with yours, well I guess thank god for freedom of speech. I call it exactly as I see it, it just so happens that it is on the opposite side of the fence. If the role was reversed and three kids from our neighborhood did this, I would be saying the exact same thing I am now. So I am not being "racist" "typical Beverly/Mt Greenwood" or whatever anyone else wants to call it.

This happened 2 blocks from my home. I have a young son, who also carries a cell phone due to his football schedule and other extra curricular activites, who is smaller than 5'1 and I am in the loop. So I am sorry if you are offended by me speaking out on this, but it hits just a little close to home.

P.S. I have emailled letters to the editor on this issue.

MITCHELL COMMENT;

Good-- letters@suntimes is the proper forum for criticisms of columnists and reporters. This is a forum to discuss race relations...period. I'm trying to avoid posting personal attacks because it doesn't move the conversation forward.

To that point, why did you feel compelled to explain you were not being "racist?"

I am "not," a racist I'm a realist. I say, there is not defense for another human being of "any race or sex," to hurt another human being, but in this instance, it happened to be the so called strong, "in numbers," only because we all know how cowards roll, against the obvious weak! Mary, my dear, I'm more so of a loner and I myself have to watch out for the same things those white boys have to watch out for, which is young folks who travel in packs, looking to take advantage of "somebody" in their eyes who look like somebody they can push over, violate and beat up, due to one "looking clean cut, none threatening," but I got something for that, I'm prepared for those type, since they want to make it a sport, well so have I, and I got 3 different sized blades for the 3 different travel cases I carry daily to and from work. Ms. Mitchell you think that's something, you should get a load of what I carry under my two door pontiac sun fire car I got, man, the little darlings got one way into my car and one way out my car, "in pieces." They are not cute and I don't think any of them should be tolerated in the least. I believe they should sow all of what they reap. I'm not a violent person, however, I won't accept it being done to me and I'd advise any tax paying U.S. Citizen, to not tolerate no S@#$ from "other," folks mistakes they bring into this world and then expect the world to suffer from it!

P.S. For the record, if the young punks like that come at a hard working, tax paying person like me, in my case, "It would be
Attempted Murder," because it's one of me and more of them, so aggravated battery would be too good for the likes of them!

In response to your question as to how I know what the black community is feeling? I'm a member of the black community, as is my family & many of my friends as well as much of my parish and school board. While I am not a spokesperson for the entire black community, I can speak based on my personal experience and what I have witnessed--that being a lack of concern over the behavior of the criminals in this case. More attention seems to be focused presently on the race issue rather than on the behavioral issue.

Do you know or understand what the white community is feeling? If so, how exactly do you know? I'd sincerely like to hear what you believe the white community is feeling and how you came to that belief.

Also, I've noticed you refuse to acknowledge or permit my previous post--that was submitted twice--despite it was written respectfully and was absent of obscene language or lack of civility.

If you continue to edit your blog in a manner that only allows voices that you can dismiss or overshadow, then I have lost the great respect that I have held up until now for you as a journalist.

It is my fondest wish that you embrace this open forum and allow others to speak with the same candidness that you often enjoy in your column--Permitting my previous post would demonstrate that.

If you chose to deny the publication of this response, in addition to my previous post submissions, then you are not permitting your general public and patrons of your column to speak in a fair and balanced manner.

I had expected much more, Ms. Mitchell. Much more, indeed.

One Disappointed Reader,

Roz
Chicago, Illinois

It was very interesting to read the entries from those who wanted to justify their views of blacks based on what they have witnessed through the media or based on statistics" they have read some where. If you have had a statistics course you would know that statistics can be interpreted any way that the researcher wants to interpret them. It's all about what that particular researcher is trying to prove. Numbers and data can be manipulated. However, I want to address the gentlemen who posted that whites are 250 times more likely to be a victim of black on white crime. Okay so if you want to use that logic in order to justify your bigotry, I'm sure that there is data to support that blacks were much more likely to be lynched and castrated by whites in the 50's and 60's. So should we assume that most whites have relatives that participated in these crimes? I'm sure you wouldn't like that, would you?

Another point I would like to make is that most people need to put others down in order to feel good about themselves. Part of the reason for focusing on blacks as criminals in the media is so that whites can feel good about themselves. The other reason for the focus is so that whites can justify their years of mistreatment of blacks by saying, "see they are criminals and thieves anyway". People want to feel good about themselves and don't want to think they are naturally nasty and mean. If they react so negatively to someone, they want to have a justification for that reaction. Meaning that most racists justify their bigotry by saying that, "you all brought this all on on yourselves."

I'm a mental health worker and I can tell you from my own experience that there are plently of drug abusers, people who sell drugs, liars, cheaters and thieves in the white commmunity as well. My clients are mostly white and they tell me in great detail about the drug use and doemstic violence in their families. The difference is that they go to jail over night and are released the next day. They don't necesarily go to jail for drug possession. One of my white clients told me that he was found with drugs in his possession and he was told by the cop, "oh just go get help, you're a good guy". The other difference is they don't get arrested and have their face plastered all over the news. So I'm saying all this to let you know that no one group has a monopoly on the drug trade or on violence. These kinds of things occur within all races.

I'm not saying that all whites are racist. That would be ridiculous. However, a good segment of the white population really wants to believe those stereotypes about blacks because it hurts to look in the mirror and say, "I'm racist".

Maggie, you say:

"Part of the reason for focusing on blacks as criminals in the media is so that whites can feel good about themselves. The other reason for the focus is so that whites can justify their years of mistreatment of blacks by saying, "see they are criminals and thieves anyway"."

But the complaint I often hear about coverage of black crime is that it isn't covered in the news.

For example, I often hear that crimes against white people get maximum coverage in the news, while those same crimes in the black community get ignored.

So, what's the balance that you think should be struck?

You are right that white folks do drugs, but the difference seems to be that white folks generally aren't selling them out in public/ competing with gangs for control of street turf/markets.

Because let's face it, the city has a few hundred to almost a thousand murders a year. Most of them are in the minority communities and seem to be largely related to drug trafficking. The reality is that white street gangs are pretty much extinct, there haven't been any of note since at least the 70s.

So do we pretend this violence isn't happening? Would that really serve the black community better?

I don't know the answer, but I think identifying the problem is important.

I am happy to report that there was recently a community gathering of both black and white citizens in the Beverly area that were expressing concern over the attack of Ryan Rusch at Beverly Park.

The gathering took place at both the local police station and within Beverly Park itself. There were not any black leaders present that I know of or had seen, but there were black officers and black families that came to show their concern and support side-by-side with their white counterparts.

Additionally, free school supplies were handed out and people got a chance to meet other concerned neighbors.

As Ryan undergoes a long and arduous emotional and physical recovery, perhaps this incident will serve as a bridge that connects communities instead of a race issue that continues to divide us.

The trial of the teens and the publicity that surely will follow will be the next big challenge that both communities and families will face. It is a chance for everyone to demonstrate civility, compassion and a desire for justice and fairness.

Unfortunately, it will also be an opportunity for hate speach, racial division and callousness to rear it's ugly head.

Only time will prove which prevailed in our communities. I'm personally rooting for the former and not the latter--and that a heaping help of justice will be served.

Roz, you could bet the Jesse Jacksons of the world be doing the hate speech & racial division part. It's how he and others like him have become very wealthy.

All I can say is, WOW. And these are all comments from people who live in the "North". Before reading this, I thought my family and I were pretty productive members of society. But maybe I should not take care of my kids (I don't have any, but there's always parent-less black kids running around up to no good), stay at home watching Oprah waiting for my welfare check, and complain about how racist everything is (maybe how this website is mostly white or something). Although I'm working and still pay my student loan on time every month, maybe I should stop and just get welfare. And can someone tell me when racism became a game of cards? And what game were we playing prior to 1964, in the years before racism went away (Even though I wasn't alive. I only saw pictures and read about it in books)?

We have has numerous shooting and one murder in Brainerd park over the pass 9 years. We have been trying to get cameras and the new city lights in Brainer Park. I work with the CAPS program and the Brainerd Community Relation Council. I see that because of this beating theis park ing Beverly has gotten a Camera in less than two weeks.

First of all I just wanted to say that it's pretty amazing how incredibly ignorant some people are, black, white, whatever. I just had a few quick comments on the Ryan Rusch situation. Ms. Mitchell I appreciate your regard for this issue, and your effort to raise a hard question, however, I can't say that I agree with your thoughts on the charges. The issue is pretty cut and dry if you ask me. A child was beaten and was in very critical condition for days. Aggravated battery or attempted murder? All I know is that if that child had died, god-forbid, there is no doubt that those teens would be charged with murder. There is no way that they would win over any jury for a manslaughter charge because there's no accident when it's actually physically beating someone. In one of the previous responses in this forum someone brought up the fact that to physically beat someone that severely takes a lot of hatred and, in my opinion, intent. There is no possible way that a small, basically defensless child could have posed any threat to three larger teens. Defenders of the teens are saying that their intent was to steal a cell phone and possibly a bike. What I cannot wrap my brain around is how or why that would have warranted the beating that they gave Ryan Rusch. It just seems to me that there was a little bit more going on there then some would like to believe. I know its been said a million times in these posting, but these attackers were kicking a defenseless kid repeatedly, in the head, while he was on the ground. As far as comparing it to the Clark case, I don't really believe that it is at all relevant, or useful to bring up something from the past. Different circumstance, different crime, if justice should be blind then it shouldn't have any connection. Bottom line, crime is ultimately a choice, and unfortuately (for all parties included) they chose to severely beat a child and they should have to suffer the consequences.

To S b, your comments in your first sentence are very bigoted because you infer all southerners are racist. I suggest you go to some sensitivity training. To Meg, I will make it real simple for you. The people who are saying they should not be charged with attempted murder are saying that because the suspects are black and the victim is white. If the races were reversed those same people would be saying attempted murder charges are warranted. So don't rack your brain trying to figure out why they think that, I just gave you the reason.

DORIS....

The camera in Beverly Park was installed, actually within days of the incident, because our Alderwoman paid for it out of some fund. If I am not mistaken, all of our parks and schools in the 19th Ward are going to be having them installed to try to deter future incidents.

MEG....... I could not have said it any better than you did.

My thoughts continue to remain with Ryan and his family.

When the Clark boy (African-American) was beaten in Canaryville by white thugs the black activists (such as Jackson) were outraged. And white leaders (such as the Mayor) DID speak out and were outraged also. However, I noticed a complete SILENCE from the black activists when its a black-on-white crime. Why?

MITCHELL COMMENT:

That's a valid question. Thank you for asking it.

John, the answer to your question is that black activists couldn't care less about black on white crime. In fact, I think that most of them probably think black on white crime is very funny.

Dear Ms. Mitchell,

The REAL root of the problem involving these senseless hate crimes stems from violence, disrespect, ignorance, and lack of guidance and love in the home. PLAIN AND SIMPLE. Parents need to wake up and ask themselves whether or not they are doing a good job of raising compassionate, decent, respectful young people who will be a benefit to society and not a burden. Where do you think all this hatred comes from? Many parents are too busy keeping up with the Joneses instead of investing a little more time teaching the children that THEY CHOSE TO HAVE about love, kindness, decent, and respect.

Dear Ms. Mitchell,

MAKE PARENTS ACCOUNTABLE!! It is up to parents to be good role models for their kids. Sure, as a parent, one will make mistakes, but there are WAY too many parents out there who do not lead by example. Parents say some of the most hateful and disrespectful things to their child, some as young as two months old! It's about time the media, the government, and anyone else even remotely involved with children do what they can to get these messages across: If you want to raise a loving child, show your child love. If you want to raise a self-confident, compassionate, independent child, show him/her the way, and if the parent does not know the way, then get help! It's about time society wakes up and addresses these issues.

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Frankly I think it is about time that seriouse charges are being brought against thses people. I am a 16 year old who lives in Bevrely and I have been jumped 3 times in my life all in broad daylight all on the same street. Whats bad is that this and last summer there has been an increase in crimes like this my freind got mugged twice and a girl I knew and one of my freinds were heled up a gun point both on seprate occasions. Now that this is being charged with attempted murder as some one said earlier the charge probobly wont stick, but I see this as good deterance. Maybey now this will cause people to think twice before going on about thins sensless violence that has no puropse other than to do damage to other people. The fact that poeple think it would not of gotten so much attention if it happend some where eles is not a bad thing, I see it as saying that maybey unlike these other places we are not going to sit back, take it, and let roveling gangs rule the streets

Mary... I know it has been months since this issue but I have another one for you and maybe you can give me your input on this since it ties into this discussion.

On March 1st an african amercian girl stated that she was abducted and sexually assaulted by (and Im thinking of how she had put it) a white guy, 300lbs, in a White Sox Shirt, White Van with bumper stickers all over it. She proceded to tell the police that she was abducted from of all places (Beverly Park) and driven around for two hours, sexually assaulted, then she managed to escape.

Now here's the kicker. A community alert went out to the neighbohood right away, an announcement was made over the p.a. system at my sons school, etc.

The media was all over this story at first. But low and behold, guess what. The story was made up. She skipped school, got caught and did not want to get into trouble.

This young girl not only could have ruined someones life, she put the neighborhood on alert. This girl did not realize that the same park that she was "abducted and sexually assaulted" at had video surveillance and from what I hear after hours of going over said surveillance there was no proof, and her story completely unravelled.

What should her consequence be now? Should she be criminally charged for making false police report, etc.... You know what she got charged with.... disorderly conduct.

I am hoping at the next CAPS meeting that this issue is discussed, because this charge is wrong. What about the police time, manpower, etc. for her trying to cover up skipping school.

Not once did I hear the SunTimes, News Channels, etc.. recanting the story. That this girl made it up, it got swepped under the carpet. We got it from our local paper that it was all a hoax.

Mitchell comment:

I I never saw this story, so I can't say what happened here. As for filing a false police report, I'm pretty surprised that she wasn't charged with a misdemeanor.

I know its been months since Ry was attacked, but I'd just like to say that no matter wht, this was a crime of hate, maybe it wasn't racism, but it was pure hatred that caused those guys to attack him. The way they kicked him and stomped on his head, the way he was horribly beaten, that was hatred, but probably hatred for someone else, seeing as they'd never Ryan before, but they still took it out on him.its awful how they did that, but Im just glad that hes alive. He may have been out of the hospital for awhile, but until recently he was critically damaged by this, in a matter of speaking.His whole family was. However, they were really touched by the support from the community, a complete stranger even bought him an x box because the newspaper said he liked video games. I was at the mass for him and I cried, I could swear to you that there was hardly a dry eye in the house. I'm a year younger then him (im in the same grade) and I've known him for a few years. He lives near my grandparents, and whenever I visit I always hang out with him. Hes a really great kid, like all the papers said and I hope that he stays alright, and I hope that noone ever gets hurt like he did.

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This page contains a single entry by Mary Mitchell published on July 27, 2006 4:45 AM.

Why I Talk About Race was the previous entry in this blog.

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