Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Stoop Conversations

Saturday night around 9pm I took a walk in the neighborhood and when I got back I decided to sit on the stoop for a little while and watch Franklin St go by.

What made me sit down and pay attention in the first place was police activity inside the common. Not sure what was going on but for some reason the officers decided to drive their cruiser right up inside the common. There was a guy on a bench and two officers were talking to him and shining their flashlights in his face. A couple times one of the officers walked away and shined his flashlight on the ground over by the cemetary so I am thinking it was most likely something to do with drugs. Eventually they picked him up and brought him out to the Franklin St side of the Common where a van came to haul him away.

Now what made all of this interesting was as this was all happening a young Asian couple pulled up in front of the building, probablty in their late 20's driving some sort of newer mid sized Japanese car. They park their car and walk up to the front steps. They look at the building, look at their car, look at the dude getting arrested, look at the building, look at their car, look at the dude getting arrested. I ask if they are possibly looking to move into an apartment, prepared to tell them how wonderful of a time I have had living there. They say no they are just visiting a friend. They are still looking around and the woman asks if I live there, to which I reply that I do. Then the man asks, "Is the area safe?"

Along with the man who got arrested there was another man pushing a shopping cart who also got kicked out of the park. When the couple asked if the area was safe they were both staring straight at this man with very concerned looks on their faces. I said that the neighborhood was completely safe and that the man with the cart, while not very pleasant to look at was just homeless and completely harmless. As the paddy wagon raced off, blue lights flashing, they did not seem to believe me. By this time their friends had come down stairs to let them in and we bid each other a good night.

So the question I would have for the officers who took part in this arrest would be:

1. Did you really need to drive the cruiser right up into the common and have your lights going so that anyone driving by the common and just glancing in would think that Downtown is crime ridden?

2. Did the police van really need to be sitting there with it's lights going? Again, do we really need to call attention to the crime? If it's minor things like public disturbances can't we just discreetly deal with it instead of putting on a show in the middle of Downtown?

The impact of this is that our young couple goes back to wherever they came from and tells their family, friends and coworkers about the awful, scary experience they had in Worcester over the weekend. They also probably give their friends shit for living in such a place which makes them doubt whether they want to renew the lease when the time comes.


Paulie said...

next you are going to want them to make sure they have no spinach stuck between their teeth in case the TV cameras show up...come on Gabe are you really serious about this?? What if this homeless cat had a knife or a syringe?

Wasn't it two homeless cats who started the big fire?

This city is not changing until we addrsss who has decided to live here and who has not and it is this basic..anyone heard recently about how we can keep the bright minds educated here??? A report comes out..we hear some rustling of the papahs and then the issue dies!

Gotta go..I have a beautiful bird chirping in my yard that I can not identify-gotta go get my bird book

Bill Randell said...

along the same line. I really like it when some organization gets a grant to build low income housing and at the ribbon cutting they refer to the surrounding area as blighted and crime ridden.

Real nice picture to paint.

Anonymous said...

Answer to question 1: Yes

Answer to question 2: Yes

Paulie said...

I always have a few bats around my house-I've had more than 20+ physical confrontations ovah the past 6 years down here and I refuse to be caught in a weak position..that all being said I really like baseball:>)

Last year I was rushed outside by a next door neighbor living at 224 Chandler Street..he had a knife in his hand..I leaned to my side and produced a Louisville Sluggah:>)..he stopped suddenly thus alllowing me to tell him that I had been stabbed once and knew how it felt but I bet he had nevah met a Louisville Sluggah personally:>)

Moral to the story being Gabe that I refuse to give up one inch of my property nor have one of my friends or la famalia hurt by this crowd living in my neighborhood and I wouldn' ewxpect anything different from our WPD....we already expect them to be social workahs, trash investigators..blah,blah,blah and now we may want them to jeopardize their safety because we are worried about our city downtown image...no disrespect Gabe cause I know you mean well..but it is not the WPD's responsibility..it is the citizens of this city and it's leaders.

Gabe said...

I have to disagree with you there Paulie. In your neighborhood and the neighborhood I used to live in yeah that kind of stuff is warranted but explain to me how driving the cruiser right up into the common was needed? What if they were on foot patrol?

Maybe if all the lights were working in the common they along with the rest of us would feel safer there.

I also think that it's still a numbers question. If the common was filled with 20 or 30 people just enjoying the cool night air would they have run up in there with the cruiser? Would that dude even have been there in the first place?

We really need to overcome this image problem of our city as a dangerous place. Sure it has it's dangerous neighborhoods, but c'mon.

Paulie you and I have both lived in very dangerous cities, me in Baltimore and you in the Boston of your youth. Worcester is not dangerous, we both know this. It has dangerous neighborhoods, but the city needs to make it more clear what neighborhoods in the urban core you go into alone without a guide and what neighborhoods you don't. Personally, aside from the couple of project neighborhoods, I don't think there is one neighborhood in this city that is walled off from the rest and scary and dangerous. The sad reality is this though. If we want the really nice urban neighborhoods there has to be a balance and there has to be a really scary shitty urban neighborhood. Show me any city that has a beautiful awesome urban neighborhood and I will show you a god awful urban neighborhood, if not within the city limits than in a neighboring municipality. We can be all idealistic and think that all of urban Worcester can eventually be this amazing urban oasis but it's just not reality. There needs to be some give. The poor and drug addled are not just going to disappear they need to go somewhere. Concentrate them.

Part of the reason urban Worcester is just kind of "meh" is because we allow neighborhoods to be just okay. Right now to the naked eye it's just one big kinda shitty, kinda scary neighborhood. The sad part is that this is the neighborhood most outsiders see when they come here and that is their impression of the city.

You and I both know we give way too much of a pass to the unfortunate among us in our city. This city is a prime example of why welfare and the way we go about doing it does not work. I believe it needs to be there sure but it needs to change because it has killed our city.

Paulie said...


today in Worcester being poor is not an excuse for alot of the behavior we see in this city....the safety net avaialble to folks today is absoultely amazing..we have pretty much eliminated the needs of many today and it isn't ending..

I am not foolish to think that all of Woostah is primed to be the next Piccidilly Palace, I also refuse to give up my properties to it either..but unlike many I refuse to assume that because one is poor or needy that they have no responsibiliies within society..I have three households next door at 224 Chandler Street all on federal and state subsidies...many healthy human beings who do nothing but sit around all day doing nothing...there is something wrong wherebyn this is allowed and that so much of it exists in this city with nary a blink of an eye from our leaders.

We have laws that allow to many recieving real gifts to be pretty much taken out of society and it's requirements to be part of it.

Lastly, many cities and towns have eliminated from their boundries simply via gentrification the segment of society we are chatting about..I am not in agreement on this but it is happening Gabe.

Worcester on the other end seems to be encouraging this segment of society to take up shop in disproportionate percentages as to what it can handle..and it is very surprising why our leaders have not realized this to be quite honest with you.