Recap: A Chicago Story Of Black People, Jumping The Gun, And Keepin’ It Real Going Lethally Wrong

Opinion: The story of a mother defended by her son after she was attacked bears a closer look.

With the news cycle keeping us in a perpetual state of whiplash, I wanted to bring your attention back to a very Black, very dynamic ongoing story from my adoptive city of Chicago that started back in June.

It’s been weeks, you say…why bring this back up now? Because, unlike the concurrent sagas of several wildly rich people in an undersea carbon fiber school bus losing their lives, the Supreme Court acting up (again), and the usual celebrity drama, this story didn’t capture the world's attention as much. 

But it was a tale of bad timing, hood justice, race and police; gun politics, the impact of social media and the bond between mother and son.

Plus, if it involved more white people, it’d probably be on a streaming service within a year.

On June 18, Carlisha Hood, 35, entered a Maxwell Street Express restaurant on the south side to pick up food as her 14-year-old son waited in her vehicle. Jerome Brown, 32, entered the restaurant after. Hood and Brown eventually got into an argument – why or about what, we don’t know.

Because messy folks abound, a messy person trained a cell phone camera on the escalating incident.

Brown threatened Hood to stop talking or he would attack her, “on my gramma.” Hood kept talking and attack he did…throwing closed fist blows at her head like she was a grown man.

What happened next wasn’t captured by a phone camera (that we know about) but instead by surveillance cameras examined by authorities: prosecutors initially said Hood texted her son to come inside the restaurant with her gun, for which she has a concealed-carry permit and a valid owner’s identification card.

The son fired onto Brown as he ran from the restaurant, hitting him three times. Prosecutors also said Hood directed her son to shoot Brown’s girlfriend, who was on the scene and who allegedly taunted Hood during the argument…but the public has seen no audio or video of any of this.

Brown later died at a local hospital. Hood and her son were both charged with first-degree murder, and Hood with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Hood was placed on a $3 million bail. For more than a week, the world was left to assume that Hood was a ratchet nutjob, worse than any mother in the Power universe for dragging her son into a murder rap.

But that cell phone video hit the internet June 26, and everyone popped a 180.

In just 15 seconds, we see a Black man move from verbal aggression to completely unnecessary physical aggression on a smaller Black woman posing no threat. Black Twitter and every comments section under the video on Instagram sided with Hood and her son. Even celebrities chimed in siding with the mother-son duo.

We didn’t even need to see the shooting – the video was enough to galvanize the masses against Brown.

In a turn of events that made my jaw hit the floor, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx dropped charges against Hood and her son (who has remained unnamed due to his minor status) on June 26.

"Based upon our continued review and in light of emerging evidence, today the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office (CCSAO) has moved to dismiss the charges," the office told USA TODAY. "Based upon the facts, evidence, and the law we are unable to meet our burden of proof in the prosecution of these cases."

If you were completely unmoved at the video of Hood reuniting with her son after their respective jail stints, you should check your soul.

Happy ending notwithstanding, Hood decided she wouldn’t go quietly: She’s suing Chicago and members of the Chicago Police Department for, among other things, malicious prosecution, false arrest and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Chicago Mother Sues City, Cops After Prosecutor Drops Murder Charges

No part of the lawsuit's claims say that Hood directed her son to shoot her assailant, but rather that he shot him in an act of defense.

It does allege that Brown had multiple domestic violence arrests, and also carried gun charges against him.

Hood’s lawyers announced the suit in a press conference, where Hood delivered a brief statement through tears and the lawyers dodged reporters’ (good) questions about what happened after the video we all saw.

The Chicago Police Department has proven to the world many times over (and to me in person) how racist its officers can be, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they arrived at the scene, saw an N-word with a gun and his mama and locked them both up without digging deeper.

Hood, a non-felon, used her legal gun to defend herself via her son against a bigger, stronger aggressor (who happens to be a convicted felon with an apparent history of attacking women). Even in a city with a notoriously touchy relationship with gun violence, this might be a pristine example of a gun being used legally in self-defense.

There’s an unconfirmed rumor that Hood fired her attorney and no longer wishes to pursue the lawsuit. But if Hood and her son had to endure more than a week of lost freedom for no good reason, I hope she gets all her coins from the city.

Which brings me to Foxx, who is leaving her gig next year. Her tenure had its biggest controversy when she dropped charges against Jussie Smollett after he played in all our faces in 2019.

If you believe that Foxx’s leniency toward Smollett was driven by her own personal motivations or relationships, it’s a reasonable conclusion that Foxx freed Hood and son because she, as a Black mother, internalized a child defending his mother from attack…details be damned.

There’s also no question to me that social media could’ve influenced the State’s Attorney Office’s decision, as public opinion quite often guides outcomes in courtrooms these days:  if not for Twitter (and a pandemic), Derek Chauvin would probably still be rocking a badge.

Assuming Brown and Hood didn’t know each other before their encounter (he repeatedly calls her “lady” in the video), I’d surmise it was an example of something that’s probably happening numerous times across the planet as I write: A “when keepin’ it real goes wrong” moment interrupting the otherwise mundane day of perfect strangers, changing their lives forever.

Those of us who grew up in or around the hood have witnessed arguments like Hood and Brown’s…or been part of them. We know precisely how left they can turn if one or both parties don’t keep a cooler head.

It’s a cautionary tale for the quick tempered among us: Before you pop off, think about your future and the people who love you and rely on your continued presence. Don’t be that person five years into a 10-year bid constantly reflecting on “that day” when you could’ve just walked away.

As for Hood and her son, I think most reasonable people can agree upon two things: The first is thankfulness that yet another Black teenager will not have his life ruined in the criminal justice system…especially for defending his mom.

The second: Keep your hands off Black women.

Dustin J. Seibert is a native Detroiter living in Chicago. He loves his own mama slightly more than he loves music and exercises every day only so his French fry intake doesn’t catch up to him. Find him at

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