It’s been three months now since that warm night in June, when Eddie, the local gangbanger spokesman came over to have a word with us, the new neighbors; and 20 years roughly since I returned to my hometown. Always rough-and-tumble, with mobsters, criminals and grifters mixing uneasily with working class rednecks who came north a generation ago; and in-turn mixing with working class and inner-city blacks who came for the same factory jobs.
Those jobs are gone and the city, Rockford, Ill., not only has the honor of the state’s highest unemployment rate — but has now been labeled “The 9th Most Dangerous City in America” by a recent and highly publicized US Dept. of Justice report. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 152,222 people lived in Rockford in 2011.