“Taste of Chicago” shootings

I just watched WGN’s first few headline stories on the 9 o’clock news tonight (and in saying that, I’m hoping that no one pieces together that it’s a Saturday night on a holiday weekend). One of the lead stories concerned the recent Taste shootings. I hadn’t heard anything about them, so, naturally, I was glued to the set.

The first shooting, likely gang-related, happened after the fireworks on Thursday…near Congress and Dearborn. The second happened yesterday…at Randolph and Wabash. Let’s be fair, neither actually happened at the Taste. In fact, neither happened east of Michigan Avenue or in Grant Park.

Gang activity is nothing new to the Loop, especially after the 9-5 crowd makes it back to the relatively safe comforts of their homes after work. Just a couple of weeks ago, a drive-by shooting near Van Buren and State made news because it happened right on top of location filming for the new Johnny Depp movie about John Dillinger. The Loop, especially the South Loop, is predatory after hours. If you don’t need to be there, don’t be. And if you are there, keep your head up and move fast.

The fact that the Taste attracts the massive crowd it does, and that the yearly reports from the Taste campus proper are never more catastrophic than pickpockets, heat exhaustion, and gastic distress, is a minor miracle. Full credit to the city for another dirty bomb and crazed lunatic-free year. I don’t want to trivialize the shootings, but I think it’s important to let the Taste of Chicago off the hook for them. Bad people with guns will do bad things, whether it’s a mile away from a pickle-on-a-stick kiosk or across the street from a schoolyard.

WGN made the story more dramatic by questioning the viability of Chicago’s Olympic bid, in light of the recent shootings. Again, repeat after me…the shootings didn’t happen at the Taste of Chicago. That’s like blaming a homicide at Lake and Seeley on a United Center concert (though with George Michael and Neil Diamond shows on the horizon, a little more police presence in the area can only help). I wouldn’t worry about Chicago’s Olympic hopes simply because of crime statistics. Just Google “Rio de Janeiro” and “crime” to see how safe another 2016 city is. Start with Wikitravel.org, in fact…

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