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Beating of Black 13-Year-Old Lenard Clark Revisited in Podcast You Didn't See Nothin'
The USG Audio and Invisible Institute podcast is hosted by Yohance Lacour.
Lenard Clark, a Black 13-year-old boy, was riding his bike through the predominantly white Chicago neighborhood of Bridgeport with a friend when they were stopped by three white men.
"Everyone was able to flee safely except for Lenard, who was caught, beaten, and ultimately left for dead a few blocks away on 31st and Princeton where his comatose body lay savagely beaten in a pool of blood," journalist Yohance J. Lacour wrote for the South Street Journal in 1997.
Lacour has come a long way since writing that article. After serving 10 years in prison for dealing drugs, he became a sneaker designer, an advocate for prison reform, and the host of the podcast You Didn't See Nothin', by USG Audio and the Invisible Institute.
As for those involved in the case, Clark survived the attack and resurfaced from his coma with serious brain damage. He speaks briefly in the podcast but otherwise wishes to continue living his life in relative privacy.
Frank Caruso, 18; Victor Jasas, 17; and Michael Kwidzinski, 19 at the time of arrest, were eventually arrested for the attack. A jury found Caruso guilty of aggravated battery and a hate crime in October 1998, for which he served fewer than two years in prison. Jasas and Kwidzinski, meanwhile, pleaded guilty to aggravated battery and received 30 months probation, as well as 300 hours of community service.
At the time of Caruso's sentencing, Clark's mother, Wanda McMurray said, "I have justice."
For many people, that was the end of the story. Justice, as McMurray said, had been served.
But the details of Clark's beating, recovery, and eventual reconciliation with Caruso — Clark visited him in prison — lingered in the back of Lacour's mind for decades. Something about it had left a bad taste in his mouth, especially as the Black Lives Matter movement grew over the past few years.
Lacour grapples with why he kept coming back to Clark's beating more than 25 years later. He admits in the finale, "My 23-year-old self would've looked at me like, 'Why is this old man still tripping on some sh-t that happened 25 to 30 years ago?' There's so much sh-t that's more pressing."
But Lacour needed to understand why this story had burrowed itself so deeply in the recesses of his own mind. So, he returned to his journalistic roots and launched the podcast You Didn't See Nothin', in which he interviews witnesses and friends. He even tracks down Caruso himself.
Listeners can also hear footage of Lacour's chance encounter with Frank Caruso Sr. and how Clark feels about the situation now.
The podcast explores how the case was depicted in the media, what it means to be Black in America, and how it all impacted Lacour's own life. It's a gripping series that revisits a case otherwise forgotten, like the countless other people of color who have been attacked and killed in years past.
All seven episodes are available to listen wherever you get your podcasts.