The news: Englewood resident Rubin Robinson, a gay black man, was attacked July 3 by a group of black people in the predominantly white Boystown neighborhood.
Behind the news: The stabbing in Boystown prompted significant media attention and backlash within the community.
The incident prompted a community meeting, attracting 800 attendees, a YouTube video of the stabbing, which got more than 40,000 views as of Aug. 7, a Facebook page with 3,700 likes as of July 18 and more than a dozen stories in the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune alone within the first two weeks of the incident.
But there were hundreds of other crimes that day of varying degrees of severity that didn’t garner the attention that the Boystown stabbing did. And most of which occurred in the city’s African-American neighborhoods.
On the same day as the Boystown incident, there were 294 emergency calls made to 911 reporting assaults, according to information obtained by The Chicago Reporter from the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications.
Several crimes occurred July 3 in predominantly black or Latino neighborhoods. The four districts identified as having the most crime between January and March 2011 were police districts 4, 6, 8 and 25, according to 2009 Chicago Police Department data. The racial composition of District 8 is mixed, but the other three districts are comprised predominantly of people who are black or Latino. There were a total of 241 crimes that happened July 3 in those four districts alone. Among them were violent crimes, including seven aggravated assaults, 12 aggravated batteries, 13 simple assaults and two criminal sexual assaults, according to police reports.
Andrew Rojecki, an associate professor of communications at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said Boystown’s status as an affluent, educated and well-connected area helped draw significant media exposure to the incident. A black-on-black assault in a white community made it a salacious story to cover.
“This is like cat nip to the media,” Rojecki added. “It probably would have gone unnoticed had it taken place anywhere else.”