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Bullets & Big Macs

We're SO not lovin' it.

Last Friday afternoon, driving my kids to countless errands around town, I felt the dreaded "3:30 p.m. drag."  If you’re an adult, you know the feeling all too well.  I knew a cold, caffeinated drink would wake me up. 

I aimed my car toward the McDonald's drive-thru on Dempster, but traffic was annoyingly backed up.  Flashing emergency lights near the corner of Dodge and Dempster . 

As my daughter and I neared the intersection, it was apparent that my icy Diet Coke wouldn’t come from McDonald’s: yellow tape was wrapped around the parking lot; police cars and unmarked vehicles blocked every entrance and exit; a helicopter hovered above the snarled traffic. 

As the gaping traffic crawled past McDonald’s, we could see police officers inside the restaurant, walking around slowly with gloved hands and clipboards.

The visions I’d had of my icy soda were replaced with images of the Brown’s Chicken massacreWhat the hell just happened here?

I drove to the Burger King drive-thru and asked the cashier what had happened at McDonald’s.

“Someone got shot,” she said, matter-of-factly.  She passed me my change and my drink, then said into her headset, “Welcome to Burger King.  May I take your order?”

Pulling away from the window, my daughter whispered, “I can’t believe someone got shot at our McDonald’s,” and that summed it up for me.

This is our town. Our home. Our refuge. Our harbor.  Why are guns in the hands of residents – and even worse, in the hands of (alleged) minors – in our supposed safe haven?

I don’t pretend to understand the politics of gun control or the details of gun violence in the U.S.  I know about The U.S. Constitution and The Bill of Rights, the latter of which states (in the 2nd Ammendment):  A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

In 1791, the need to defend ourselves was vastly different than it is today.  What a difference a day makes…or 220 years. 

I don’t know what sort of confrontation occurred inside our McDonald’s, but I’m certain it would have ended with less devastation if the gun was pulled out of the mix.  Perhaps tempers flared, or injustice was felt…but matters only worsened with the inclusion of a handgun. 

Will Evanston accept Friday’s incident as just another one of countless shootings in or around McDonald’s restaurants, such as in:

San Ysidro shooting

Washington, D.C. shooting

San Jose shooting

Hempstead, New York shooting

Houston, TX shooting

To be clear, McDonald’s isn’t the problem.  Shootings happen around Burger Kings, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, U.S. Post Offices, private residences, high schools, universities, and grocery stores

Let’s not blame factions of Evanston’s society for this (or any) shootings.  This isn’t just about gangs, or drugs, or Republicans vs. Democrats, or blacks vs. whites, or kids not knowing any better. 

It’s about guns.

I believe this is a moment in Evanston’s history where all of us need to decide, as a community, what to do about guns…then work together to see our plan through.  

As Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s, famously said, “None of us is as good as all of us.”   

Even if you don't go to McDonald's...or don't know the individuals involved in the shooting...or believe in gun control:  This, unfortunately, is everyone's problem.

David Lindgren April 18, 2011 at 11:51 AM
Not sure of a governent solution but I do agree with you that the problem is the presence of guns. Pro 2nd amendment folks claim that misdirected people are the problem. But you put a gun in any one's hand, and that person is capable of using it for harm. I would recommend a specific Evanston gun registration and then simply take the guns off anyone carrying a firearm.
Becca April 18, 2011 at 02:21 PM
I was at the vigil last night and it was a powerful thing to see a neighborhood come together, stand together, and sing "We are not afraid"...it was a wonderful mix of people ranging in age and race, and united in the quest for peace. As cars drove by, they honked and held up their hands with the peace sign and my kids learned a little bit about what it feels like to stand up for what you believe. I was very proud to be there and be a part of it
Candace Hill April 18, 2011 at 02:35 PM
This is one of those situations where we have to begin speaking about specifics. Because these offenders are juvenile, the police and the courts are constrained at what they can say publicly. However, for those following these stories of gun violence over the last couple of years, it has become clear that this is a feud between two families in Evanston who both have a history of criminal activity. You have to know who to talk to, and what web boards to read, but there are those who can tell much more about this story, who are not telling it in public. Because the names of youthful offenders cannot be published in the newspapers, and the names of young victims are not published in the media, it is hard to know that the youth who was arrested a few months ago caught in the act of shooting, was the same boy who was shot in downtown Evanston just a few months before. Perhaps the members of the Evanston media could ask for a special meeting with the police chief where all the background of these families could be shared off the record, with an understanding of what can legally be shared and what must be kept confidential. The police have their own methods. They would like to arrest offenders in ways that would keep them off the streets. But, as long as the people with the guns are juveniles, there's a limit to what can be done. This is not a big, overwhelming endemic problem. This is a very specific, to a couple of families in Evanston problem.
Candace Hill April 18, 2011 at 04:51 PM
The Evanston Roundtable has done some excellent reporting on this issue, looking back on the last several shootings and how they are all inter-related.
Richard Schulte April 18, 2011 at 05:14 PM
"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Chicago, Evanston, Oak Park and Washington DC had some of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation. Restrictive gun control laws do not address the problem simply because "outlaws" do not obey laws. That's why they are called "outlaws". Been there, done that-it doesn't work. The 2nd Amendment to the Constitution was included in the Bill of Rights so that citizens would have the option of revolting should their government turn tyrannical. The first American Revolution would not have happened if Americans were not armed. Thomas Jefferson suggested that a little revolution every 20 years or so was probably necessary to protect the freedoms Americans earned in the Revolutionary War. The first American Revolution occurred because of taxes imposed by Great Britain on its American colonies. We have a tax problem once again, but this time instead of King George and Parliament, it's President Obama and the Congress. The rally for "peace and harmony" at the McDonald's on Sunday night didn't really accomplish anything. Been there, done that before-nothing changes because of a rally. "Peace and love" rallies occurred in the 1960's, but in 2011 things are not much different from 50 years ago. In order to change things, everyone needs a stake in the community. It starts with a good education and our children in Evanston are not receiving a first class education.
John Noyes April 18, 2011 at 06:50 PM
Not sure where you're going with all that Mr Schulte, but I can pretty much guarantee that the shooting at McDonald's had nothing to do with revolution. I also strongly disagree that the vigil last night didn't accomplish anything. I was there and was struck by the faces of the people driving by. Whether in support of what was going on or not what I saw was acknowledgment. Here were people presenting another way to live, another energy to project from this spot. If no one stands up and rallies then the other idea wins by default. Maybe you don't remember what it was like for Americans of color in this country before the massive rallies in the 60's , but it was those rallies (which were anything but peace and love) that presented a visual representation of another way to live and paved way for the civil rights we ALL enjoy today. If those rallies hadn't happened it's likely that a large swath of our country would have had no idea that people were fighting for justice. What we were doing last night was grabbing a stake in our community, by meeting our neighbors face to face and saying this is what we're against. Now, let's fan out and make sure we're aware of what's going on around us and asking others to participate as well. That's how you make change, and yes, it often starts with a gathering of minds. Please don't diminish the gathering because of your personal views.
Richard Schulte April 18, 2011 at 07:37 PM
Mr. Noyes, the rally was just "a feel good" experience. It will have absolutely no impact on the problem. With regard to your comments regarding race relations and the 1960's, I grew up at that time and have lived in the Chicago area since 1972. I have also lived in the South (New Orleans 2000-2010, including Katrina). Race relations are much better in the South. Chicago remains one of the most racially segregated cities in the nation. All of the hoopla in the 1960's hasn't changed all that much in Chicago. The schools in Chicago are bad and the schools are intentionally kept that way. (That's right, I said it.) Many black folks are now leaving Chicago and returning to the South to escape the political system in Chicago. The more things change, the more things stay the same, at least in Chicago. If you haven't been to the South, go and see for yourself and then compare it to Chicago and Evanston. Chicago/Evanston are so far behind the times with respect to race relations, it's not funny. With respect to taxes, the half of the citizens in this country who pay income taxes have had it with the tax, tax, tax mentality. Taxed Enough Already (TEA).
Jessica Rudis (Editor) April 18, 2011 at 07:54 PM
Candace, Thanks for your comment. You're right in that it becomes hard when this is an issue of minors (that is why we haven't yet published the victim's name even though we have it). The problem with having a meeting like that with the media is that a) it's unlikely that the police department would share it and b) if we had that information, we would be forbidden from using it and it still wouldn't be made public. I'm going to check out the articles you mentioned in your comment below -- thank you!
Christine Wolf April 18, 2011 at 08:31 PM
Mr. Schulte, You say a peace rally does nothing to help the problem; do you also feel that our comments here will do nothing to solve the gun violence in Evanston? I think a community with open minds and dynamic approaches stands a greater chance of making progress than one where members put each other down. Would a first-class education really prevent "outlaws" from obtaining guns? I personally don't think so. Just read this one example of how a first-class education failed to teach an "outlaw" right from wrong: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/15/us/15alabama.html?_r=1
Dafna April 18, 2011 at 08:46 PM
I don't feel that gun control will solve this issue at all. The issue is crime and children perpetrating those crimes. I commented on the original article as well, about how I was burglarized this summer in the middle of the day. That was the third burglary in my South Evanston condo in a few months period of time (which I was unaware of until it happened to me). As well, I came to find out that crime was rampant on my block, with numerous break-ins occurring regularly. The EPD constantly drove down my block, but it did not help. They were giving more parking tickets than keeping an eye on the kids who were either ditching school or out after school. There were always kids on the block unsupervised, and they were usually just being loud. Numerous times, my roommate found these kids smoking illegal things on the stairs to my condo. I am a teacher, and these kids were always home during school hours yelling and smoking. There needs to be more community and EPD outreach, more after school programs, better attendance records in the Evanston schools...whatever needs to be done to help the citizens and children of our home - Evanston.
Richard Schulte April 18, 2011 at 10:56 PM
Are good schools a "magic bullet" (oops, sorry about that) that will cure all of our societal ills? No, of course not, but we have been short-changing the education of minority students forever. Why, you ask? The answer is to keep them "on the plantation". Minority students with a good education may not be Democrats. It's a fact that black folks usually vote for Democrat candidates. Many educated black folks, for instance Dr. Thomas Sowell, Dr. Walter Williams, Dr. Condi Rice and Justice Thomas to name just a few of the names many people would recognize, are not Democrats. If the Democrats lose the vote of just 15 percent of black folks, electorally the Democrats would be toast. As a country, we need everyone to participate in the economy. That means we need a vibrate economy where good jobs are plentiful and a society with both upward and downward mobility. Many black folks see themselves as trapped. If you're trapped in poverty, you are more vulnerable to self-destructive behavior. Since the 1960's, American society seems to have glorified people who are inappropriate role models-rock stars, football and basketball players, actors/actresses, etc. What ever happened to serious writers, politicians, thinkers, scientists, inventors as people we look up to? In the past, we had Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, Pershing, Churchill, MacArthur and Patton . Where are the towering figures today? Something is wrong with our society.
John Noyes April 19, 2011 at 01:03 PM
So you're saying it will all be better if African Americans vote Republican? That's your solution?! Maybe Republicans don't get many votes from minority voters because you call them "black folk". You seem to imply that only uneducated African Americans vote for Democrats. I would say that it probably has more to do with the fact that Republicans have voted against every major civil rights initiative that's ever come before Congress. If it wasn't for Democrats recognizing the will of the people (which coincidentally had to do with the massive rallies (yes, those "feel good" events) and civil disobedience actions of the 60's) African Americans would still be drinking out of separate drinking fountains. I'm not saying Democrats have all the answers, but it sure beats the alternative. Minority voters don't like the republicans because they only offer intolerance and hate. Check out the Arizona immigration bill for living proof.
Richard Schulte April 19, 2011 at 01:27 PM
Mr. Noyes, I am not intimidated by your attempt to shut me down with "political correctness" or the "race card". Just a brief history lesson. Abraham Lincoln was a Republican. The Klu Klux Klan (KKK) was the terrorist arm of the Democratic Party. Southern Democrats voted against the Civil Rights Act in 1964. The Civil Rights Act was passed because Republicans voted for it. Senator Albert Gore, Sr. (D) voted against the Civil Rights Act. George Wallace, noted segregationist from Alabama, was a Democrat. Strom Thurmond, presidential candidate for the Dixiecrat Party in 1948, was a Democrat. In the 1950's and 1960's, the states which made up the Confederacy were solidly Democrat. Mayor Richard J. Daley, who built the segregated public housing projects in Chicago, was a Democrat. Democrats have been in charge of Chicago for at least 60 years. The public school system in Chicago is miserable. You can't blame the other political party for the poor public schools or the segregation in Chicago. The historical record cited above is fact. Look it up if don't believe me.
Richard Schulte April 19, 2011 at 08:03 PM
"Minority voters don't like the republicans because they only offer intolerance and hate." Just a few days after the "compassion and humanity" rally and the "hate speech" comes out. Why is the "peace and love" crowd always saying such hateful things? Looks like Mr. Noyes likes to stereo-type people. It appears that Mr. Noyes is the intolerant one. Diversity is our strength.
P S April 19, 2011 at 09:37 PM
Mr. Schulte, above you said "The historical record cited above is fact." and you are right. But you have used that to misrepresent the situation. The South was solidly democratic from the end of the Civil War to the early 1960s. But that changed because of Democratic support for the Civil Rights legislation was a central tenet of the party. The people who didn't like that left and became Republicans.
P S April 19, 2011 at 09:46 PM
Re: earlier comments about gun control Earlier Mr. Schulte pointed out that Chicago, Oak Park and Evanston have gun control and high crime rates. Here's another fact: Those are cities in the US, where in many places it is easy to get a gun. Furthermore, guns are easy to transport across state lines. But if I look at countries in Europe, or other similar countries such as Canada, Australia, or New Zealand ... the number of homicides per 100,000 population is a fraction of the rate here in the United States. So Mr. Schulte: are you saying we need national gun control or else gun control is effective?
Christine Wolf April 19, 2011 at 10:06 PM
Mr. Schulte, Is it just me, or do you actually enjoy antagonizing people with your comments? Everyone's entitled to an opinion; free speech and diverse opinions make our country strong. But, when an earnest comment is posted, such as Ms. Noyes sharing how proud she was of what her children gained by participating in an Evanston peace rally, you certainly don't have to agree with her -- your biting remarks like "The rally for 'peace and harmony' at the McDonald's on Sunday night didn't really accomplish anything. Been there, done that before-nothing changes because of a rally," suggest sincere disregard for another person's viewpoint. While I commend you on your grasp of history and politics, the issue I hope we can all agree to discuss in a civil manner within this comment thread is how to prevent shootings in Evanston.
Richard Schulte April 19, 2011 at 11:38 PM
Is it just me, or do you actually enjoy antagonizing people with your comments? Ms. Wolf, before you can find a solution to a problem, you need to identify the problem. If you don't want to face up to the problem, then it's doubtful that you will find a solution. What I see in Evanston are people who are afraid to address problems because of their politics and just want to paper over problems so that no feathers are ruffled. The problem which is being discussed is 40 or 50 years in the making. A rally isn't going to change things. What needs to happen is a realization of what's really wrong. Obviously, the truth makes some people uncomfortable, but the truth remains. When I attended Congresswoman Schakowsky's town hall meeting on socialized medicine held on August 31, 2009, I was astonished at how many people in attendance agree with me. This nation has major problems which need to be addressed-the way we have been doing things since the 1960's hasn't worked. Time for a change in direction. If you surround yourself with people who only think and act like you do, you think that everybody thinks and acts the same. It might be time for you to expand your circle to include people who have a different viewpoint. You would be surprised what you learn. Learning never stops and you might actually find that your viewpoint changes. At one time, my viewpoint was similar to many of those who live in Evanston. Not any more. Diversity is our strength.
Richard Schulte April 19, 2011 at 11:54 PM
I am saying that gun control doesn't work. Outlaws will always manage to get guns, regardless of gun control measures. (Chicago and Evanston are excellent examples.) Studies in states that have concealed carry laws show that crime goes down after concealed carry laws are enacted because criminals don't know whether or not a potential victim is armed or not. Gun fights do not break out in the streets in states where concealed carry is permitted. Guns are not bad (or good). 99.9 percent of people who own firearms are not criminals, but law-abiding citizens. Most gun-owners just want to protect themselves against violent crime-can't blame them.
Richard Schulte April 20, 2011 at 12:10 AM
"The people who didn't like that left and became Republicans." Some did, some didn't. I have lived in the South (New Orleans) for 10 years, so I have on-the-ground experience. The characterization of all Republicans as intolerant and haters is, of course, nonsense. Only intolerant (or ignorant) people would say that. Incidentally, I do not have horns or eat little children for breakfast. I am also not a Republican. I am a small government conservative. Common sense is the party platform. We need to treat people as people, rather than Balkanizing ourselves into different groups
Richard Schulte April 21, 2011 at 01:45 AM
"I think a community with open minds and dynamic approaches stands a greater chance of making progress than one where members put each other down." "Is it just me, or do you actually enjoy antagonizing people with your comments?" An open mind wouldn't try to shut people down with the sort of comments above. There are "dynamic approaches" being discussed, but they don't fit Ms. Wolf's template. Apparently, if comments don't fit Ms. Wolf's template, they are not welcome. Let me say this once again, minority children have been short-changed by the educational system since the Civil War-that's 150 years now. It about time we paid attention to the education of minority children and gave minority children equal access to a quality education. The shooting at McDonald's and other violence in Evanston is the price we pay for having neglected the education of minorities for so many years. Along with equal educational opportunities, we need a vibrant economy with jobs for our young people and for everyone. A job is better than an unemployment check or a welfare check. Giving someone a "hand-out" robs them of their dignity and self-esteem. Every human being wants to contribute something. How do we encourage a vibrant economy-being "business-friendly" and low tax rates. The "anti-business" attitude in Evanston pushes jobs out of the community, as do high taxes. If you want jobs here in Evanston, cut spending and lower taxes. It works every time its tried.
Richard Schulte April 22, 2011 at 08:29 PM
"As one of only two states that prohibit law-abiding citizens from lawfully carrying a concealed firearm for personal protection, Illinois is on the verge of joining the other 48 states if it can pass HB 148 this year. " Source: National Rifle Association (NRA)
Richard Schulte April 23, 2011 at 01:11 PM
At the risk of antagonizing Ms. Wolf once again, the following PBS webpages on the link between Democrats and segregation may be of interest: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/jimcrow/stories_org_democratic.html http://www.pbs.org/wnet/jimcrow/stories_org_republican.html http://www.pbs.org/wnet/jimcrow/stories_events.html Now ask yourself, why do you think that public schools are so bad in American cities such as Chicago (which are controlled by Democrats)? The Jim Crow days are gone, but "soft" racial discrimination practiced by Democrats still continues in our public schools, including the schools in Chicago and Evanston. If you want to put a stop to the violence, put an end to the "soft" racial discrimination being practiced in our public schools. Admittedly, this is a long term solution, but to quote the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, "America's chickens are coming home to roost". The violence is a result of 50+ years of "soft" discrimination practiced since Brown v. Board of Education (1954). It's not conservatives (R) who are the problem, it's liberals (D). Conservatives believe in equality as stated in the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. If we once again start revering the Founders of this nation and our founding principles, we would have a lot fewer problems. "That government that governs best, governs least." Thomas Jefferson Sorry Ms. Wolf, but the truth is the truth.
Sheila April 24, 2011 at 06:22 AM
I was inside the McDonalds with my two children and one of their friends during the shooting. It was crowded and I was, at first, under the impression that many of the teens in it were just there to hang out. A group of male teens seemed to be leaving the restaurant but then stopped near the door. One looked back toward (past?) me a couple of times. I was wondering why he was looking toward me me the shots were fired. Thinking back, it seems that he and the others near him knew what was about to happen in the crowded restaurant and were positioning themselves to watch the "show" and be able to make a quick escape. Since that day I have read that the same teens involved in this shooting have been involved in others in the last year. How can that be? How can these boys, known to the police and courts, be free to do this repeatedly? My children are resilient and are dealing reasonably well with the trauma of this experience. I just don't know how I can honestly tell them that I expect that we are safe when we are out, or even in our own home when teens with a known history of gun violence are free to repeat their violent actions all over Evanston.
Christine Wolf April 24, 2011 at 01:59 PM
Sheila, Thank you for sharing your experience with the greater community. While I'm glad you and your children were unharmed physically, it's clear you've all been emotionally wounded by the events that day.

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