CROWN POINT- After nearly two years of civil unrest, open defiance of the law, and disruption of daily life in the wake of the Burger King location on Crown Point’s Main Street closure due to a kitchen fire, local authorities report that a fragile semblance of normalcy has returned to the Northwest Indiana town.
Initially thought to be a minor setback for the town’s economy and lunchtime options, the shuttering of the burger restaurant in late 2020 proved to be a sort of “straw that broke the (town’s) back”, according to a local bartender we spoke to about the situation Monday afternoon.
“I didn’t think people were going to behave like that. Frankly, I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t think I was capable of the things I did. Sure, Burger King is the only place in town with chicken fries on the menu, but there isn’t anything else at a Burger King that you can't find some reasonable alternative to in town. I mean, Lincoln Carry Outs is on the very next block, and McDonald’s is a like a mile South. It… I just can’t explain why people couldn’t act like adults. Like humans.”
“I was born here in 1925. I’ve seen Crown Point’s best times and its worst times. I didn’t think things could get darker than they did after the water tower fire of ‘74." - Goody Earnest, Local Grandmother
All along Main Street, one can see evidence of the events that unfolded in the time between the Burger King’s closure and its return early this summer. Boarded up store fronts, felled trees, and the remains of burn pits that tell the tale of partisan encampments and the winter of conflicts of 2021 remain.
Still, signs of a return to pre-conflict life are also visible to those that stay long enough to look for them.
“I saw some little girls selling Lemonade on a side street this weekend. I had to park the truck and just take some time to be alone and cry.” Frank Landhold (an employee of the Crown Point Streets and Sanitation Department) told us. “I almost forgot that something like that could happen. I almost forgot what peace was. I… I sometimes think we forgot the future.”
Life isn’t entirely back to normal, not by any measure. Rolling brown outs have occurred several times within the city since July. Theft of livestock, water piracy, and mob justice remain weekly reminders that the present will never be the past.
We spoke to local Grandmother Goody Earnest in the dining area of the Burger King as sunset approached on Monday.
“I was born here in 1925. I’ve seen Crown Point’s best times and its worst times. I didn’t think things could get darker than they did after the water tower fire of ‘74. None of us thought people were capable of the things we saw last February until we saw them with our own eyes. God will forgive those who didn’t have a choice. I can’t. I just hope that the mole people problem can be kept to the early morning hours and away from the schools until the cold snap comes in the new year. After that it should just be a matter of keeping them from gathering enough garbage to burn for warmth.”
When asked what she had ordered, Earnest told us “I always get the Big Fish with a Hi-C!”
As of press time, most residents hoped to put the events surrounding the time of the Burger King’s absence behind them, though most concede that they don’t believe they will be able to. At least one group, “Crown Point Residents For Healing and Restorative Justice,” has launched a petition calling for the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The American Red Cross has stated that the three most urgently requested supplies for victims of the Crown Point Burger King Closing Fallout are clean fill dirt, children’s books, and dry socks. The need for blood and plasma donations also remains at critical levels.