CHICAGO — A Hammond man took it upon himself to let the world know that — even though he's not from Chicago and doesn't live here — he's leaving.
And he's never coming back.
In a letter to the Tribune, Brandon Vezmar said he was ditching the city where he was not raised and does not live, for good.
"This has become an insane, dangerous, soul-destroying place, and I’ve had enough," said Vezmar, who lives in Texas. "I’m leaving Chicago, and I’m never coming back."
Vezmar wrote that he grew up in Hammond — in Indiana, a state where Chicago is not located — but would take the train into the city "every chance I could get."
He went to Columbia College and lived in Chicago for "off and on" three years afterward, living in the city for a total of about six years.
Vezmar moved to "inland Northwest and Texas," he wrote. For the last several months he's been in Hammond, which he described as the "Chicago area," for work and family.
He told DNAinfo he was in the city for work about three days a week recently.
But after his most recent time in the "Chicago area," Vezmar's grown cold on the city.
"The caustic combination of corrupt politicians with nothing but contempt for the public; a police force so broken down in spirit it visibly resents interaction with even law-abiding citizens; a criminal underclass empowered by the incessant drone of liberal rhetoric wandering the streets posing clear and present danger to everyone around them; and the enablers, who are everywhere, to say nothing of the ugly, decaying infrastructure, poor economy and joyless entertainment and leisure opportunities — it is for these reasons I have made the decision to disconnect forever," Vezmar said.
Vezmar said he also has been turned off after being the victim of two "area" property thefts, three street harassment episodes Downtown and an assault on Michigan Avenue.
Vezmar told DNAinfo men have approached him on the street and shouted at him; during the Michigan Avenue incident, Vezmar said a man grabbed Vezmar and a woman he was with.
Video from the incident:
"I think Chicago is rapidly deteriorating and reaching a point of no return culturally," Vezmar told DNAinfo when asked if he thought those kinds of experiences were unique to Chicago.
Vezmar wrote he had also been victimized when "Cook County's soda-taxer in chief," his description of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, gave him a "shameful white privilege lecture" at a public event last November.
Preckwinkle speaks near the one-hour, seven-minute mark:
Vezmar said he first "realized things could truly be different" when he went to an Idaho town.
"A community didn't have to be defined by oppositional strife. There was such a thing as natural beauty," Vezmar said. "Winter could exist with a purpose. Snowboarding as opposed to just walking around being cold."
But Vezmar didn't make up his mind to leave the city until Chicago Police "waffl[ed]" in labeling the torture of a white man with mental disabilities by four black people a hate crime. (The four suspects were each charged with a hate crime within 24 hours of their arrest.)
Liberalism is a "thought virus" that's "warped" Chicago, he said, though he later said he meant the progressive movement. He plans to move to Austin, the "exact opposite," where he won't have to listen "24 hours a day to Progressivism."
"This is a happy place of people who want to be their best," Vezmar said.
The letter received a swift response on social media, with some pointing out that Vezmar was from Hammond and lived in Texas.
But Vezmar said those criticisms aren't necessarily fair and people should focus on the fact that he once loved Chicago.
“At what point are you a Chicagoan? The Chicagoland area is a real construct. I did live in Chicago for six years. When I’m in the area I spend $15 a day commuting in and out of the city," Vezmar said. "You couldn’t pay me to live in the city limits right now. I wouldn’t do it. I think Chicago’s a dump.”
Man grew up in not-Chicago, lives in not-Chicago and wants you to know he’s leaving Chicago, where he does not live. https://t.co/s9LWIVGpmv— Randi Shaffer (@RandiMShaffer) January 12, 2017
Chicago: If ya can’t make it here…. then get out we don’t want you anyway. https://t.co/DxhhZ5NV0J— Bettina Chang (@bechang8) January 12, 2017
Well, bye https://t.co/rfB1nOHkzh— Dan Hinkel (@dhinkel) January 12, 2017
We enjoy your departure from our terrific city even more than your ridiculous letter.Take care now. PS White privilege is real https://t.co/kzbs3jXrCv— Coco Soodek (@CocoSoodek) January 11, 2017
This has become an insane, dangerous, soul-destroying place, and I’ve had enough. https://t.co/lDb7rlAiuf— kathryn kobor (@niteowlhowl) January 12, 2017
https://t.co/GVW1eqauus 👋🏼 Bye— Roxxanne (@JusstGi) January 12, 2017
Hammond native describes Chicago as a "soul-destroying place." I wonder how he would characterize the region https://t.co/ivaNKFTJ3b— Elvia Malagon (@ElviaMalagon) January 12, 2017
This guy is leaving Chicago forever, BUT HE LIVES IN HAMMOND OR TEXAS not Chicago. LOL https://t.co/yPCBPF0tiP— Hercules Mulligan (@johnvmoore) January 12, 2017
Harsh & over the top? Yes, likely. But dismiss this attitude/opinion & you're likely not paying close enough atten. https://t.co/cWbvoQnTjp— RonSandack (@RLSandack) January 11, 2017