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Chicago Alderman Warned About Aggressive Squirrels. Then One Took Him Out

Last month, Chicago Alderman Howard Brookins was raising the alarm about "aggressive squirrels" wreaking damage on trash cans in his community.

This month, the squirrels struck back — in a Pyrrhic victory.

The aftermath is shown below. If you want to understand what happened, take a close look at the front wheel. If you have a delicate stomach or a strong attachment to squirrels, then, uh, don't.

At a local meeting in October, Brookins repeatedly raised the issue of squirrels and trash cans, in the face of bemused and occasionally giggling colleagues, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. "Literally — I can have a brand new can drop and within a couple days, the squirrels have eaten a hole through it," Brookins said.

It was weeks later, on Thursday, that Brookins was out for a bike ride when, as The Chicago Tribune puts it, he "was jumped by a kamikaze squirrel that leapt into the front wheel of his bike and lodged himself in the spokes, sending the alderman flying over the handlebars."

The punchline of the story isn't actually funny. Brookins was badly injured in the freak accident and will require multiple surgeries to recover. (And the squirrel didn't make it.)

But even the alderman can see the humorous side of the situation.

"I can think of no other reason for this squirrel's actions than that it was like a suicide bomber, getting revenge," he told the Tribune.

Brookins spoke to the newspaper on Monday, explaining that the attack had been silent and that he had no idea what happened until he woke up beside his bike, complete with mangled little rodent body.

The alderman says his doctors expect his recovery will take months.

In a Facebook post, Brookins expressed no anger at the local wildlife. He apologized to the Chicagoans he represents and asked for their understanding as he is forced to skip some meetings.

And he made the photo of his bike — complete with squirrel — his cover image.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Camila Flamiano Domonoske covers cars, energy and the future of mobility for NPR's Business Desk.

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