Radio + Race = Near Riot
Thanks to jmonll2 for sharing this amazing story. He/she took the accompanying pix of the incident with his/her cell phone.
I thought I'd seen everything since I moved to Chicago about 8 months ago, but yesterday topped them all off. I was riding the Red Line Train, going to Morse. It was about 9:30 pm and I was coming from Midway Airport after picking up my in-laws and a friend.
This was the first time my in-laws had visited us since we moved here and their first time in Chicago. Our friend is 12 years old and it was his first time in a plane, in Chicago and out of his country, Puerto Rico. At Berwyn, the conductor announced that we would go express all the way to Loyola because of some construction that was going on in the Bryn Mawr, Granville & Thorndale stations.
We were seated at the north end of the train in the southward facing seats. The train was pretty full with almost all of the seats taken. Around Thorndale, we could slowly hear some music starting to get louder. Initially I thought "someone must have their iPod really turned to the max," but as the music started getting louder realized it must be someone with a small radio.
This was corroborated when a white, slightly overweight man, who looked like Michael Moore told someone in sitting in the seats next to the door to turn the radio off. The man ignored him so the man repeated the same message but with a slightly louder voice. After his third attempt to get the man to turn of the radio, he stood up and stood in front of the man, whom I could not see, and told him in a loud voice "if you don't turn it off, I will."
The other man then dared him to touch the radio. At this moment, the white man tried to grab the radio from the guy and they started fighting. It was then that I was able to see, while they were fighting, that the other was a black, unkept, homeless-looking man.
By this time, everyone in the train had turned and was looking at what was going on. The two men kept fighting for a while and then stopped and started screaming at each other. Everyone was quiet, looking at the occurrences until one passenger got up and stood between the two men to stop them from hitting each other. At one moment, the white dude called the black man a "nigger" and everyone on the train went "ooooooooohhhhhh."
This caused the black man sitting in front of the white fat man to stand up, obviously insulted. The homeless man replied by calling the man a "fat white boy." While all this was going on, a black elderly woman stood up and pressed the button to call the train conductor. Another passenger stood up and talked to the conductor, telling her that a fight had broken out and the car number.
After the conductor was given notice of the situation, it took like what seemed hours to reach the Loyola Station. Because of the construction, the train was going at an extremely slow pace, which gave the two men ample time to shout and keep going at each other. By Granville, the passengers where sick of hearing the two men screaming and started to yell at them to just shut up. One of the passengers told the Michael Moore look alike that his screaming was even worse than the radio which got him even more agitated and as a result directed all his screaming at the passenger because he was the only one who was confronting the black man for breaking the CTA rules.
At one time, the black homeless man told the white man something which I could not hear to which he responded "Billy Joel is better than that crap you were listening to."
The homeless man responded that "I have good taste in music and this stuff is better than Billy Joel." At another time, the white man said, "I wish I'd brought my knife." To this, the black homeless man responded "I spent 8 months in jail." The white man responded "ONLY 8?" and started laughing loudly. This was really getting absurd and annoying and people were either telling them to shut up or laughing at their comments.
When the train reached Loyola after what seemed hours, the white man changed to the other car and the black man exited. The train stood there for a few minutes, probably while the conductor walked over to see what was going on, and we could still hear them screaming at each other in the station. At one moment, the homeless man walked back in the car and asked everyone, "Was my radio really blasting? Huh? Was it?" One of the passengers signaled with his index and thumb that it was a little bit and he exited again screaming obscenities.
Once the doors finally closed and the train left the station toward our destination, Morse, I turned to look at my in-laws and said, "Welcome to Chicago."
I looked at my 12-year-old friend and he said "I LOVE IT!"