Dec 26, 2016

Cities, Civilization and the Mentally Ill

Chicago Downtown From the Field Museum

Cities and Civilization

I am a Chicago native and am proud of my native city.  I enjoy cities - I like the vitality and life.

But our decisions to permit the aggressive mentally ill to live freely in our cities compromises our civic life.  We were in downtown Chicago over Christmas in 2016.  I went from O'Hare Airport to downtown on the CTA rail line.  A mentally ill woman was cursing and abusing people.  After she began to light her cigarette lighter in a woman's face and throw things at her I intervened and shifted her anger from the woman to me.

She cursed and swore at me for the next 35 minutes.  I tried talking to her but she was too crazy. She made little sense.  She shifted from me to two young tourists, frightening them.  I drew her attention back to me to protect them.

When I got off the CTA down to the street I was immediately accosted by another crazy guy. This time it was a man - always need to be prepared for an armed assault.  I ignored him other than to be prepared.

Two days later a large guy began verbally abusing a doorman outside of the Palmer House Hilton.  He was also crazy and very threatening.  I stayed behind him ready to knock him down if he pulled a weapon.

I am a large powerful but old guy, who grew up on dasoutsideaChicaga and served 32 years in the Marines.  I know how to fight and can handle myself. Still, it is very off putting for visitors to the city and pushes people out to the suburbs and into their cars.

When I was young we kept abusive mentally ill people in mental institutions.  We closed these institutions for the following reasons:

  • Drugs permitted people to function freely in society
  • We prefer to not incarcerate people
  • We funded group homes for people to live 
  • We saved money by closing mental institutions

These are still valid reasons but we do so at a cost.  Their lack of civility and threatening behavior hurt cities and drive people away from cities and to suburbs and into cars.

Nice Christmas Lights at O'Hare Airport in Chicago