A prayer for 'Outlaw City'

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Imet Crandon Davis at his worst moment — distraught, vengeful and out of his mind. It was the day his best friends were found slaughtered near 76th and Rhodes.
“If I go off and just start shooting . . . will you make me look like a hero in the paper?” he asked with pure evil in his eyes.
He was scary. I never wanted to see him again.

But Davis, a CTA security guard, called a few days ago. He wanted to talk about all that hate and want for revenge he was feeling when we met — the stuff that fuels killing and drive-bys in his part of town.
Since that bloody day — a Tuesday, April 22 — when five people were murdered at 7607 S. Rhodes and he lost three guys he grew up with — Tony Scales, Donovan Richardson and Reggie Walker — bullets have been flying in his direction.
Two days after the killings, somebody shot at Davis while he checked to see if his tire was flat near 87th and Burnham.
And two weeks ago, while Davis was talking with his twin brother near 85th and Euclid, a car full of angry young men with guns unloaded their pistols on the crowd of people hanging on the front lawn. Two bullets hit Davis in the right foot, shattering his ankle. Another bullet pierced his baggy jeans, and one more bore a hole through his leather coat.
“I don’t know if it’s some random s--- or if I’m being hunted,” Davis says. “All I know is these streets are out here on the South Side, man, they just terrible, man. Everybody wants to be a thug. Kids out here can’t spell their name, but they’re carrying guns.”
It’s impossible to know a man’s heart, but I believe there are defining moments that can change a person. Getting shot, I figure, must be one of them.
As Davis, 25, sat on his mother’s plush couch, a cast protecting his shattered ankle, you could see in his face and hear in his voice that April — the worst month of his life — had softened him.
“That’s why I called. That’s why I’m here,” he said. “My whole perspective has changed. I don’t know If I can make a difference. But I think people might listen to me.”
Davis grew up in a section of Stony Island Park that thugs know as “Outlaw City.”
As a kid, Davis says he was a troublemaker, no doubt about it. But says he never joined a gang or sold drugs. Whether you believe him or not, Cook County court records show he’s never been arrested.
But growing up, people around him were heavy into the drug-dealing scene, he says. His late pal Donovan “Don P” Richardson was a South Side pimp. His twin brother did time in prison. So he understands that way of life.
“I’m always gonna have the ’hood in me,” Davis says. “I’m not a hooligan or gang-banger. But I didn’t have a choice but to pick up on things in the street — what gangs are around, what not to do.
“Things have changed. We used to fight. Now, if you get into it with someone, you better beat a guy nearly to death because you know he’s going to come back with a gun. It’s so easy to get a gun, it’s ridiculous.”
Davis says those two bullets in his leg taught him something about the state of the ’hood and that he wanted a chance for people to hear him out. That’s why he called.
“Revenge? What does that get you? The people who did this to me . . . over what? Think about it, they didn’t get nothing,” he says. “And, for the neighborhood, these shootings are making us look bad as black people, and you know people already stereotype us. We’re losing a lot of good people out here for nothing. I just wish all these young kids would wake up. Whatever you’re mad about, it’s not as serious as you make it out to be.
“ ’Cause you know I ain’t trying to go to no more funerals.”
I shook Davis’ hand on my way out. It was good to see him again.

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Think for his future he might have to move away from Chicago. It will not be the easiest thing to do but.In another town he can reinvent himself. The familiar tugs of being who he was, what he has experienced will dissipate. Suggest he move to a mid size town where there are some of the amenities of Chicago or big city life but little of it's ills.

Also suggest for all of those homeowners who can afford it;
install a surveillance system. You won't catch every outlaw but you will at least identify some.

As a brother who had battles with cats from outlaw City I understand this guy fully. I still check my back when Im in the old neighborhood just for fear of some past troubles or some new cats thinkin Im out there banging. It is senseless.

I understand his perspective. Im a 20 year old hispanic male who grew up in one of the city's most violent neighborhoods, Pilsen. Growing up wasn't exactly easy in that there were gang shootings taking place on almost a daily basis. As a youngster gangbanging did appear to be the thing to do, since everyone else was doing it, but it wasn't for me. If it wasn't for my family and schoool the streets woud have taken me under. So for anyone wondering how to treat this problem, treat kids with respect and give them some responsibilities then that way they cant say their mistreated or not needed.

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Mark Konkol

Mark Konkol covers city neighborhoods for the Chicago Sun-Times. You can e-mail him or call (312) 321-2146.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Konkol published on May 23, 2008 3:10 AM.

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