It has been more than 10 years since that horrible evening in July, 2002. I know you’ll remember the story. It made headline news all across the country. A group of people were sitting on the front porch of a house on the South Side – where none of them lived by the way – when a van driven by Jack Moore, 62, and his passenger Anthony Stuckey, 49, jumped the curb and hit the people sitting on the porch. Three women were injured.
Immediately after the accident, a mob of people pulled Moore and Stuckey from the van and beat them to death. Later on, one of the three wounded women died from her injuries. Eight men were later charged and tried for the murder of Moore and Stuckey. The incident scarred the perception of Black Chicago.
I thought about Moore and Stuckey the other night when I heard the news story about the motorcyclist and the injured child. A 43-year-old man was riding his motorcycle home when a 4-year-old child darted into the street. Now, mind you, this wasn’t just any narrow one-way street with parking on both sides. It was First Avenue in Maywood, a street where the only time you drive slower than 35 mph is because the traffic won’t allow you to go faster. What everyone can agree on is this: to avoid hitting the child, the motorcyclist ditched his bike but it somehow managed to scrape the kid anyway. In the video report that I saw, there isn’t a crossing light or crosswalk at the point where a local restaurant is located. And even if the child was crossing the street with an 18-year-old relative, that still isn’t proof that common sense was being applied as they crossed a busy street. Was the 18-year-old holding the child’s hand or just letting her follow him, as far too many do in today’s age?
What isn’t in dispute is this: the child’s father, upon leaving the restaurant and seeing his injured daughter, attacked the motorcyclist with the help of the 18-year-old. However, unlike Moore and Stuckey, the motorcyclist was an off-duty Chicago police officer with a gun. Although beaten and injured, he was able to draw his weapon and shoot the child’s father – fatally.
We, thankfully, aren’t having yearly, monthly, weekly or daily stories about attempts at street justice that ends up with someone dead. Every story always has three sides – my side, your side and the truth. Now that the father is dead, his family wants justice, but no mention was made of the injustice that was the crux of the entire matter. And that was the father’s attempt to apply street justice as opposed to doing the legally right thing.
Now we have an injured child who has also lost her father. We have a family in mourning because the father didn’t use restraint to find out what happened before attacking a man. We have an 18-year-old who will possibly now have a criminal record for his participation in the beating of the police officer, who for all intents tried to do the right thing and has now become a pariah as the family screams for justice without acknowledging its own role in the tragedy.