Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Violence in my neighborhood

I used to think that Baghdad is the most dangerous city in the world now, but this weekend I was forced to change my opinion.

In one week, there were 18 homicides in Philly - that's more than in Iraq during the same time span. When you put things in that perspective it makes you look inside and wonder if America is really what it's cracked up to be.

If I didn't see it with my own eyes, if it didn't happen in my own neighborhood.... I would be able to remove myself from it and think that it was a media exaggeration.

But on Friday when I was catching the trolley at night to meet up with friends, I noticed that news vehicles were circling my neighborhood. The trolley was being unexpectedly late, and instead a shuttle bus came. It took us up Lansdowne Avenue as usual, but then when we got to 57th Street, the bus took a detour and I looked out the window and saw yellow tape and police. I knew that something pretty bad must have happened for the road to be blocked off. Someone on the bus said that there was a news flash and an 18-year-old kid got shot repeatedly on his mother's porch steps.

A few days later, as I took the trolley to work, I passed by the victim's house and saw candles and teddy bears on the footsteps where he was killed. I heard it was drug related. But there is so little about it in the news.

The other murder was a block away from my house. Also drug related. That's the one that freaked me and my family out.

I never knew that the drug situation in Overbrook was so escalated. I always loved this neighborhood. It's diverse, close to the city, but quiet with big houses like the 'burbs. I used to also think that it was safe.

So of the 18 homicides last week, 2 were in my neighborhood. And I think it's fishy that the police can't find a connection. This can't be a coincidence.


At 9:18 PM, Blogger Fly said...

I look out my window every night from the safety of my bedroom to take a moment and realise that my safety is not real. I live in the burbs and the last time anyone was shot around here it was a failed suicide attempt. That doesn't mean I feel safe. My secretary hasn't shown up to work in the last 2 days and everyone from her fiance, to her mother, to her aunt, to her children have been calling to me find out where she is, because she's not at home. I've called the police and the hospitals, all with no assistance, though I suppose thats a good thing.

With a worried look on my face today, I turned to my boss just as he said, "There are more criminals and bad people out on that street than there are in jail cells." I'm not a proponent for the prison industrial system, but sometimes I have to feel that it isn't as safe in American city streets as we like to imagine.

These incidents are issolated and related to drugs so they don't involve me. But the reality is that drugs and the crime that follows it is attached to poverty and poverty knows no boundary or skin color. The police aim to serve and protect, but from what i've seen in philly their aim is to serve tickets and hastle teenage kids. Fact of the matter is we may never feel completely safe, but we can't let that keep us from living our lives. Be smart, be aware, and be ready. I am not your mother but you know what you are supposed to do. Otherwise all I can offer you and your family is my prayer. Be safe kiddo.


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