If you live in the Hyde Park/Kenwood/Woodlawn area, chances are you’ve experienced the “Million Teenage March” on 53rd St. before. My husband and I witnessed the confusion last year. It was actually scary.
We were walking to our favorite frozen yogurt spot, Z Berry. There was an unusual amount of teenagers out, but we didn’t think anything of it. Suddenly, a large crowd started to run in our direction. Hundreds of kids ran from the park and down 53rd street. What do you do when you see a large crowd running? You run as well. We quickly entered Z Berry as the crowd continued to run. We were trying to figure out what was happening. Finally, I asked a boy why were they running. He laughed, “I don’t know.”
As we headed to the car with our yogurt we noticed multiple police cars further down 53rd St. Apparently they had just broken up a fight. As a Black woman I must say it was disheartening to see my Black children causing havoc in what’s considered to be a safe neighborhood in Chicago.
Fast forward to yesterday. Halloween. The principal from Kenwood Academy sent out a message to parents and the community warning that a “purge” of some sort had been planned by students. What were they going to do? Cause more havoc. According to this article on Chicago Maroon there reports a broken window, arrest, and violence. The massive crowd of teenagers with absolutely nothing to do was back, with a vengeance.
There are two factors to blame:
- Parents – Of course you can’t watch your child 24/7, but they learn values from you. There’s a time and place for everything. 53rd St. is NEVER the place for what may be perceived as “mob” action or gang activity.
- Lack of “teenage friendly” venues – By the time I was 12 my mother moved us from Chicago to the suburbs. On any given weekend or free time, we had access to Hollywood Park, Odyssey Fun World, Brunswick Zone, or a local mall. There were spots in our community that were designated for teenagers. Hyde Park/Kenwod? Not so much.
I read online that a community member is already working on giving the children something fun to do on Halloween next year, instead of roaming 53rd St. to find trouble. Thank God. We have to start somewhere right?
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