I’ll say it again: Where is the outrage for the unsolved murders of 51 Chicago women?
Chicago figured out how to build a skyscraper and reverse a river’s flow, but it has not found the killers of these women, most of whom were Black.
I don’t give a damn who’s tired of hearing it. I’m not gonna stop saying it: If 51 dogs were slain and discarded in trash cans, abandoned buildings and vacant lots across Chicago, set on fire and dismembered, this city would be up in arms.
Why not for at least 51 women slain here since 2001, and whose murders remain mostly unsolved?
Why not for their families who seek solace and justice for these daughters whose innocent blood cries out from their cold graves?
Can you hear them?
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Imagine their last gasps, amid the torture they suffered from their murderer who strangled or asphyxiated them, desecrated them?
Can you envision their final desperate struggle? Hear their cries for help before they at last succumbed to death — the light of life seeping from their frightened eyes? Visualize their last moments in the hands of someone who hated them rather than being embraced by someone who loved them?
I can. I must.
The cold. The desolation of their bodies dumped, half dressed, defiled. The pain. The shame. Crying out for help. And yet, no one came. No one answered.
Why shouldn’t this city now have to answer?
The depravity. The inhumanity. This stark insanity of a city where they could figure out how to build a skyscraper, reverse the river’s flow and design a world-class skyline that shimmers. A city that cannot find — at least has not found — these women’s killers.
And why not?
What if it were 51 women mostly white instead of 51 women mostly Black? What if they were mostly middle class instead of mostly poor and working class?
What if they lived and died in a posh Near North Side neighborhood or along the Magnificent Mile, rather than on the South and West Sides on poverty’s isle? Would these murders still be largely unsolved? Might this city then care?
What if these women had not been all summarily — and falsely — characterized as “prostitutes” and “drug addicts”? Would we be so easily dismissive of their fate? Would we still deem them as perhaps “less than,” if not altogether “disposables,” rather than as flesh and blood and heart and soul, created in the image of God?
What if “she” was your daughter, your mother, your sister, your aunt, your granddaughter, the girl next door? What if we could see in the eyes of those among these victims whom life may have pushed into the gutter, the soul of a broken woman, not just some “whore?” Then would this city do more?
For Lollapalooza and an assortment of downtown entertainment fests, resources flow. And when murder, rape or a string of robberies occur beyond the hood, no stone is left unturned. Those victims garner headlines and nightly news because they are of a different hue, or well to do.
Remember Jussie Smollett and how quickly police got to the bottom of the truth?
But Black women and girls disappear, or are raped and murdered damn near every day. And what does the city do?
All the official hand wringing and explaining sounds like one big excuse. And the inability to solve the murders of the 51 just evidence that this case is clearly not a priority for the mayor, or the police or for far too many.
Maybe I’m wrong. What I do know is that some don’t want to hear it anymore. In so many words and with looks of dismay they say, “Shut up, John Fountain, you’ve already said that. Write about something else, let it go.”
I can’t. I won’t. And I don’t give a damn what “they” say. I said it again. And I’m gonna say it some more.
John Fountain led his class at Roosevelt University in a yearlong project on the 51 murdered Chicago women. To view the project, visit: www.unforgotten51.com
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