Howard Brookins can’t stand squirrels.
The alderman of Chicago’s 21st ward gave a speech last month at a city council meeting, in which he decried the scourge of garbage-hungry squirrels eating through residents’ trash cans. As he told it, the city is wasting money replacing trash cans instead of pulling the problem out by the roots.
A few weeks later, Brookins was going for a bike ride on the Cal-Sag Trail (which has pretty good reviews) when a kamikaze squirrel tossed himself at Brookins’s machine and brought him down. Brookins posted a photo from the Nov. 13 crash yesterday, and he said that he was badly hurt and will need “multiple surgeries” after the “freak bicycle accident.” He also posted a photo of the squirrel who caused the crash, dead in the spokes of his Specialized.
Chicagoist spoke to Brookins’s chief of staff James Ramos, who said that his boss would be okay, but rather banged up:
“He was riding along, then the next he knows, someone is asking him if he’s OK,” Ramos said. The good news is that Brookins is out of the hospital “recovering very well” and “in very good spirits,” according to Ramos. Brookins did however suffer “heavy damage,” particularly to his nose and teeth.
Brookins talked to the Chicago Tribune this morning and said he had a fractured skull. He also laid out the revenge narrative:
“I can think of no other reason for this squirrel’s actions than that it was like a suicide bomber, getting revenge,” he said Monday as he began what his doctors have told him will be a months-long recovery, including further surgeries.
Brookins was probably joking, but urban squirrels are smarter than you might think, and they’ve been known to exhibit paranoid, duplicitous behavior when they think they’re being watched, or perhaps in this case, when their access to delicious trash is under threat.