Monday, April 16, 2007
Diary of Violence 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
April 15th, 4:00pm: I saw Grindhouse with my good movie buddy, M. It was, as expected, grisly, gory, funny and surprisingly entertaining.


April 16th. This morning, I saw something very ugly, very uncivilized.

As I was getting on the CTA "L" at Granville this morning, there was this big, beefy woman, mid-to-late forties - who looked either homeless or mentally ill - standing outside the station. As I passed by she screamed at me "f--k you, you f--king bitch!" It was a bit of a shock, momentarily disorienting, but I didn't disturb me too much at the moment. There are plenty of weirdos out there in the city (and in the country, but that's for another post) and it was neither personal nor the first time something like that has happened.

I recalled a story my parents told me of an elderly flower-seller in the Old Country who was a little, er, unbalanced. "Would you like to buy some flowers?" was her sweet invitation. If you didn't buy any, she'd yell obscenities at you as you walked away. Chalk it up to "it takes all sorts to make the world."

There were also two smallish elderly women walking together behind me who were the target of her little spiel, who seemed to get a bit shaken up. A moment later a young African-American man in his late teens or early twenties caught her attention: "f--k you, you f---ing n----r!" He didn't visibly react, but merely plugged in his iPod earphones and continued walking into the station.

The problem really started inside the station: none of the turnstiles were accepting fares or working properly, so the station attendant had to open the wheelchair access gate and let riders on for free. In this momentary free-for-all, the crazy woman apparently entered the station, and got on the train too.

I take a seat. About a minute later, I hear the crazy woman's harsh voice yell, "you're a f--king dirty n----r!" She picked the wrong target this time.

The object of her tirade was a middle-aged African-American man who had likely not seen her previous behavior at the Granville station, as he hadn't boarded at that stop.

He started to physically fight with her in the doorway, and bodily threw her from the railcar at the next station with a "get your f--king ass off the goddamn train!" The two yelled at each other, she called him the n-word a few more times, and she stepped back on the train to spit on him - at which point the man snapped. I mean, really snapped.

The now-enraged man followed the crazy woman off the train and started punching her, knocking her to the ground. The man and the crazy woman were of similar height and weight: big enough to do some serious damage. She raised herself from the concrete platform with this look of rage and terror in her eyes, and screamed obscenities at him again. He then knocked her down again and started stomping on her with his boots on the platform. I couldn't see where his feet were landing, but they connected with sickening thumps.

The train operator must have called police but the doors closed and the train continued on. What really disturbed me was that people - normal looking people - on the train started cheering and applauding when he threw the crazy woman off the train car. Just as the older Black man was not privy to her previous disturbed tirade, the cheering passengers assumed what they were seeing was merely an old racist getting her comeuppance. When the man began to punch and stomp, the applause turned to stunned silence.

Pure ugliness, pure escalation, and pure misconnection between irrational hate fueled by mental illness and what must have been decades of deeply-embedded rage. I am highly curious to know what happened to the two afterwards.


April 16th, 11:00AM CST: AP confirms 31 are dead, dozens injured in this country's deadliest mass shooting at Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg. Police believe a lone gunman was responsible for this morning's massacre, and the shooter [UPDATE: a student] is believed to be among the dead. VT President Charles W. Steger has released a recorded statement.

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