To Man on the Streets among other frustrated residents:
Most of us don't see much crime in our neighborhoods. We may see someone involved in an arguable drug deal, an open beer bottle, and the perpetual trash. We may see someone flash a gang sign and evoke anger. Perhaps, we experience little else other than never ending dog crap on our grass. We may find that the local apartment building lacks reasonable maintanence or some event happened while we were gone at work. Most of us are non-confrontational. We respect people's space, even if others have yet to learn how to respect our space.
If we approach the belligerent, then we risk misunderstandings. Some are 'hard of hearing' or simply 'want to hardly hear.' Diplomacy is a tender art best left to the experts. Whatever the issue, the Morse Street "L" seems like a textbook example of what not to do at 3:30 a.m. on New Years Eve based upon the blogs! Nevertheless, I sympathesize with the victims. Anyone can become frustrated and vulnerable after work at 3:30 a.m.
Some appear confused about when the crime was committed. A crime must be quickly defined and geographically pinpointed for 911 to get Police to react fast! The Morse "L" event escalated into an aggravated battery; the subjects committed the attack on CTA Property. See 720 ILCS 12-4(b)(9). However, perceived crimes were in progress before the victim ever reached the turnstyle.
It seems, in hindsight, unwise to report the crime until after there was physical confrontation. Perhaps, the victim should have reported the "assault in progress." Unfortunately, a decision was made to confront. The law requires a victim to back away from crimes in progress (assault, mob action, and trespass). Otherwise, a victim can become the offender. Of course, hindsight is always 20/20, but ponder these thoughts.
The victim 'may' have had other options. I am unaware that there was a report of "assault, mob action, and trespass in progress" before the Morse "L" confrontation. A criminal 'assault' is an event that puts the victim in 'reasonable apprehension' of 'receiving a battery. That is, reasonable fear of future bodily harm. Activity of an insulting 'or' provoking nature, such as confinement or restraint is often criminal, as well. See 720 ILCS 5/12-1(a), 5/12-3 and related law. Either crime, among others, are punishable by a maximum of less than one year of imprisonment. 730 ILCS 5/5-8-3.
A call to 911 for 'mob action, assault or battery in progress' should get immediate attention. Why approach the CTA turnstyle, when someone is committing a crime? Just report it! Unfortunately, the victim is made to appear 'unintimidated' in blog reports. The victim's alleged state of mind seems 'unreasonable' to me in hindsight. In approaching, he put himself and others at risk and escalated the incident. He 'might' have been arrested, as well, but the suspects fled, which is an arguable admission of their guilt. See 720 ILCS 5/12-4(a) and 12-4(b)(9). Perhaps, there were grounds to charge the suspects for a hate crime, if caught, but this is unclear from the blog reports.
Of course, if any suspect is ever arrested and arraigned as a defendant, then the judge or jury makes the final ruling. Locals have a right to pack the courtroom, do research, and provide morale. Residents can send advance information to the appropriate Assistant States Attorney ["ASA"], States Attorney Unit, or news agency. This is particularly helpful, when there is evidence of the accused defendants' propensities to repeatedly commit attacks. There is a place to research a defendant's record, if arraigned. Go to the 10th Floor of the Daley Center, if you want to 'mine data,' but beware, an arrest is not a conviction and neither is an indictment. Also, dragnets can happen. Ultimately, the ASA must prove that a defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and may dismiss a case.
When someone prevents passage through intimidation and looks like they won't let a passenger take the train, then a victim must decide whether it is menacing and thus 'an assault in progress.' Most reasonable people find it innappropriate to physically bar passage to a CTA turnstyle. When faced with an assault, you should report it to 911. An "assault in progress" should evoke immediate action by CPD. The alleged confrontation resulted after there was a 'reasonable apprehension' of receiving physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with an individual. See Battery 720 ILCS 5/12-3(a)(2).
Of course, an Assistant States Attorney will make the final decision on whether to prosecute, as well. That said, a court can impose or revoke conditional discharge, supervision, or a suspended sentence. See 730 ILCS 5/5-6-3. This may depend upon whether the offender was provoked, etc. These are known as mitigating factors. Some mitigating factors may mean zilch to a Court as a matter of discretion. Also, there can be aggravating factors, such as a possible secondary charge of Mob Action (720 ILCS 5/ , among other grounds for arrest. The law requires a victim to avoid confrontation; otherwise, the victim can be deemed an aggressor and be charged for a battery, as well, as a matter of discretion.
My morals on the alleged Morse "L" incident: Two options: (1) carry a cell phone and call a taxi from Glenwood Tap, or (2) Call 911, repeat (if necessary), and wait for Police to arrive and clear the area. Let Police know where you are. Encourage them to provide safe passage onto the red line. There may be other options "man on the street." If we don't use them, we lose them, among other things.
Disclaimer: the above is general information not meant to be legal advice. Every circumstance requires a reasonable reaction based upon experience. For more information, attend your Beat meetings and seek assistance, when provided, from those who professionally teach others to avoid being a victim. Some crimes take two parties. Other crimes are difficult to punish due to demands placed on law enforcement. Don't turn yourself into a victim.