Austin is located on the West Side of Chicago and is the largest of the city’s 77 officially defined community areas. It’s know for police brutality, low employment and high incarceration rates. Many argue that hope and harmony also exist within the community, and that the media is provoking the problem by only portraying it in a negative light.
“Where the mind goes the body is soon to follow,” said Antoine Day, “Life After Justice,” co-founder. “If you tell someone that they’ll never be any good, they’ll never be any good.”
Clifton “Boonie” McFowler, case manager at BUILD Chicago in Austin, explained that gangs originally set out to make the West Side a “better side.” They were “community based organizations” that didn’t intend to “hurt,” but to “help” and “defend” their community. Boonie hopes that by educating Austin youth, in time they will learn to “fight for something worth fighting for.”
“Oath To Austin,” is an account of Austin given by long-term residents Day and Boonie. Both men were incarcerated, though Day has since been proven innocent, and they both work to stabilize the neighborhood and empower its youth.