Twenty-Six Years Later, “You Didn’t See Nothin” Podcast Digs Into Lasting Impact of Lenard Clark Case
Written by Vocalo Radio on March 24, 2023
In 1997, 13-year-old Lenard Clark was brutally attacked when he rode into Bridgeport to put air in his bicycle’s tires. The racist assault is now the subject of “You Didn’t See Nothin,” a documentary podcast narrated by journalist Yohance Lacour.
On March 21, 1997, Lenard Clark and a friend rode their bikes from their homes in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood into a mostly-white section of Bridgeport to fill up their flat tires when Clark was brutally attacked by three young white men.
Clark was beaten unconscious, leaving him in a coma. He later recovered, but sustained severe brain damage.
Two of his attackers, Victor Jasas, 18, and Michael Kwidzinski, 21, plead guilty to aggravated battery and received probation. A third, Frank Caruso Jr., 19, was convicted of aggravated battery and a hate crime, receiving an eight-year sentence. Outrage in the aftermath of the attack reverberated across the city.
Journalist Yohance Lacour recalls his first instinct when the story broke was to head into Bridgeport and physically fight back. Lacour was 23, a University of Illinois Chicago journalism student at the time. Finding violence not a viable solution, Lacour got in touch with Black-owned, Bronzeville-based newspaper South Street Journal to report several stories on the attack.
Lacour’s articles reported facts he hadn’t seen anywhere else, and he hoped they would make a positive impact and draw attention back to the crime, which had been overshadowed with a message of racial reconciliation. Instead, they prompted threats of violence from white Chicagoans.
“I’m writing, I’m thinking I’m taking the square route, the straight and narrow kind of route,” Lacour recalled during a recent visit to Vocalo. “And here we are, dealing with some threats and some possibilities that this is deeper than we had planned for when we was going to fight fire with fire.”
Twenty-six years later, Lacour again digs deep into the case on the seven-part documentary podcast “You Didn’t See Nothin,” produced by USG and the Invisible Institute, a South Side journalism organization dedicated to fighting for Chicago’s BIPOC community. Lacour’s personal narrative of his experiences at the time of and following Clark’s attack are interwoven with investigative reporting throughout the podcast, which released its first episode on February 15.
He notes the idea for the podcast came about in 2020, during the protests against police brutality and racially-motivated violence. Drawing attention again to Clark’s story, now more than two decades later, Lacour wants to stress the importance of paying attention to similar stories today.
“It’s important to know about this day because it keeps repeating itself,” he said. “I tell people often, Lenard wasn’t the first of his kind and he wasn’t the last… This story is playing out similarly over and over again, and has been.”
On the anniversary of the attack, Lacour stepped into the Vocalo studios with morning host Bekoe and audio and community storytelling producer Ari Mejia to discuss the podcast, his connection to Clark’s attack, the possibility of racial reconciliation and the ethics of investigative journalism.
“You Didn’t See Nothin” is available on USG’s website, or wherever you listen to podcasts.
This interview originally aired on Vocalo Radio 91.1 FM during Mornings With Bekoe on Tuesday, March 21.
Interview by Bekoe and Ari Mejia
Audio produced and edited by Ari Mejia;
Photography and videography by Rakim Winfert
Video editing by Bekoe
Introduction written by Morgan Ciocca
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