Family describes attack outside 95th Street Red Line station. ‘I don’t feel safe in my community, and that sucks’
“It really sucks that you can’t protect yourself,” says woman who was attacked along with her daughter and godson, “and the people you’re relying on can’t protect you.”
Lura Irvine had a bad feeling about a group of 10 young adults on the CTA Red Line L train she was riding earlier this week.
As she headed downtown Monday to pay for her daughter’s next semester at Harold Washington College, a woman sitting next to her said she had seen the group before.
“The lady said they ride from 95th all the way to downtown, picking on people and robbing people,” Irvine said. “I said I was glad they weren’t on my car.”
On the ride back, Irvine was attacked by the group, along with her daughter and godson. Her daughter Kenya suffered a fractured nose, her godson a black eye and deep cut to his hand.
Her daughter is now too scared to ride the CTA and wonders how she will commute to school and finish her last semester. And Irvine is frustrated that police haven’t arrested anyone in the group that seems to act with impunity on a transit system plagued with crime.
Before the attack, Irvine had been relieved to see the group get off the train one stop before her downtown. But she saw them again on her return trip to Roseland. At the 95th Street station, Irvine was playing a game on her phone, waiting for a bus with her daughter and godson when her daughter tapped her shoulder.
“She says, ‘Momma, look,’ and I noticed they were fighting my godson,” Irvine said.
The police said the group of 10 people began beating the teen. As Irvine and her daughter intervened, people in the group began to fight them too, police said.
“We’re like pretty much playing tug-of-war back and forth” with my purse, Irvine said.
She managed to call 911 during the struggle. Then she noticed blood on her daughter’s face.
“My daughter’s face was so bloody, I immediately dropped everything and went over to her,” she said.
She placed herself between her daughter and the attackers and pleaded, “Wait, wait, what’s wrong? If there’s anything we did to you guys, don’t harm us.
“I hear so much about people getting hurt and shot, in that moment I thought my life was gone,” she said.
Police eventually arrived, and the group ran off. The ordeal replayed in Irvine’s mind that night. She thought about the CTA employee who apologized for not intervening. The employee said she was scared for her own life.
“Maybe CTA needs to find someone more capable of doing their job. You could at least call the police,” Irvine said.
A CTA spokesman said that a transit agency employee had called police, who responded within minutes. CTA training directs its employees to call police for any attack and not to intervene directly, the spokesman said.
The CTA said it was doing all it could with Chicago police to arrest the attackers, including providing surveillance video of the crime.
Irvine said the attack left her feeling helpless.
“As a parent, you want to protect your kid at all costs, but in that situation, it felt like I didn’t have the power,” she said.
Irvine’s daughter now wonders how she’ll finish her last semester at City Colleges of Chicago. She’s considering taking a Metra train downtown instead of the CTA.
“I was just going downtown to be a college student, and I was assaulted and robbed,” Kenya Merrills said. “We can’t be our first-responders. We can’t take weapons to defend ourselves on the CTA.”
Irvine said she wonders why police and the CTA haven’t taken action and arrested anyone in the group that seemed to be causing so much trouble.
The day after the attack, as she met reporters at the 95th Street Red Line station to describe what happened, she said she witnessed another assault, possibly by the same group of people. In that attack, two people used pepper spray to try to rob a woman walking across the street, police said.
“I don’t feel safe in my community, and that sucks,” Merrills said. “I don’t understand, especially since the mayor said they’d be putting more security on the Red Line.
“I saw no security,” she said. “It really sucks that you can’t protect yourself, and the people you’re relying on can’t protect you.”