At 6 feet, 2 inches and weighing 240 pounds, 53-year-old Julius Madison isn’t the type of person you’d envision being victimized by street thugs.
But on the afternoon of Jan. 6, the Austin business professional passed two young men on the 100 block of Ontario Street whom he sensed “were up to no good.”
“They were dressed in hip-hop attire-hoodies, with those head scarves,” said Madison. “They looked like straight-up hoodlums.”
Hoodlums, apparently, as big as Madison, who tried to act like he was un-intimidated by the pair as he walked past them.
“They let me go through. I walked [between] them. Ten seconds later they attacked me.”
One of the men hit Madison on the head with a hard object, knocking him to the ground. Madison fought back, but one man punched him repeatedly as the other took his wallet from his pocket.
He suffered head injuries and a broken dental plate.
“I had a lot of mouth cuts. My dental partial is completely out,” he said.
Madison said numerous people from both the neighborhood and at West Suburban Hospital told him he was one of many such robbery victims in the area over the past month. Emergency room staff, he said, told him they’d treated “numerous” robbery victims from that area since mid-December.
“This is happening on both sides of Austin Boulevard,” Madison said. “They hang out by that business strip, by Church’s Chicken [on Austin near Lake Street] and in the park [Stevenson] near Austin and Lake.”
Madison said he plans to speak with Aldermen Ike Carothers (29th Ward) and Ed Smith (28th Ward) about the ongoing problem. In the meantime, he’s putting out the alarm.
“I want people to be aware,” he said. “The public needs to know about this situation.”
Rick Tanksley, police chief for neighboring Oak Park, said he’s aware of groups of young men hanging out near Austin and Lake. Oak Park police, he said, have been consulting with police in Austin’s 15th District and are routinely focusing on the area.
“Both Street Crimes (teams) and patrol officers are making street stops and confronting groups of suspicious people,” he said.
Tanksley added that he continues to press for the installation of a Chicago crime control camera near the Lake and Austin intersection. Already in the works are the installation of cameras at known trouble spots at Division Street and Austin and Fulton Street and Austin.