Saturday, December 22, 2007

Holidays a-glow with violence


There have been a rash of armed robberies, attacks, and home invasions this past week in Trenton that will keep me busy this Monday (Christmas Eve), working on the crime map, something I don't mind doing, though I do think the police department should be doing it. Unfortunately, on the city's website, the police department is still displaying the same damn map from 10/29 - 11/4, the week of the press conference, which came as a result of the Trentonian's Jack Knarr's illuminating story about how crimes are often downgraded and not reported in Trenton. At the press conference that week, the police promised better disclosure.

Ha. Good one.

At the press conference, the police acknowledged they waited too long to announce to the public that a man had tried to snatch a young girl in the west ward, this past fall, and would do their part to not wait that long again, in the case of possible crimes against children.

So today is Saturday, December 22, 2007. Glen and I read the paper this morning and discovered that a young girl was approached by a suspicious man on Monday. That would be Monday, December 17. The encounter took place in the North Ward, near Brunswick Avenue and Pine Street, in the morning, probably while the girl was on her way to school. In this country, with Amber Alerts, and Megan's Law, why the heck did our police department wait a whole school week to report it? Sure, there's a chance that this may be a simple case of a language barrier issue, and the guy had no malicious intent, but we just don't know. And now a whole week has gone by, and kids have been walking back and forth to school, right in the same area where this suspicious exchange took place.

There's a problem here in Trenton with parental responsibility, which puts children at further risk; and that parental abdication puts a strain on the rest of us (I'm not implying that the mother of the girl who was approached by the man on Brunswick Avenue is not involved with her daughter's life; I'm commenting on a general trend). However, in previous eras, everyone knew each other and looked out for each other's kids and so forth. Today, we must realize that the police and government officials can really only do so much (though they MUST be better about informing us about children in danger), and we need to step up to the plate again. We live in a more disconnected society, which is how thugs and knuckleheads and sickos are able to take advantage of us. No one deserves to be the victim of a crime — adult or child — but special attention must be given to those who do not have the ability to take care of themselves.

Fellow Blogger, Dan Tawnie has been writing a bit lately about the problems with kids left to raise themselves, and I think it's indicative of bigger problems everywhere. It's not just a Trenton problem, although when Trenton kids are left to raise themselves the consequences (at least from my seat here) are far more dire than in suburbia. In fact, I was poking around YouTube again this week, and found another Trenton video, in which a young, budding rapper, Chrome Crisis, tells us why, perhaps, Trenton kids are willing to take bigger risks:

I was a crack baby, so everything I get, I deserve.

Watch it here, if you'd like (note: foul language, etc.):


I'm not judging this particular young man, even though the foul language in his song seems completely casual and gratuitous (which probably paints me as old and uptight, although I like to swear myself sometimes). I mean, he looks okay, despite his rough start to life. But this video says a lot. Do grown crack babies have some biological/chemical deficiency in their make-up that make them feel this sense of entitlement? I don't think so. I think physically, they're probably no different from those of us who were not crack babies. The difference is the crack babies had mothers who were addicts, and those women did not get clean after their babies were born; they continued using and prostituting and stealing and moving from place to place, because of their addiction. Only now, they did it with a kid (or kids) in tow. So, these kids grew up without any positive role models, and did the best they could, under their shitty, shitty circumstances.

The YouTube videos with Trenton tags provide some tragic, disturbing insight into what is possibly an unwinnable battle of turning society around any time soon. We can't make people be good parents, we can't undo what those people did to their babies. I'm not sure we can convince kids their lives (and others' lives) are precious after their parents drilled into their heads that they were worthless. I hope I don't come off as a pompous ass, but I do think a lot of our community's problems are interrelated, and we can possibly make subtle differences that may help improve the overall cultural climate so that the next generation is not as screwed. Maybe take a walk to get a paper when the kids are going to school, and if we're home during the day, maybe we can do something outside when the kids head home from school as well. We need to take more responsibility for our own little corners of the world, and not wait for the government to come save us. At the same time, members of our government are elected and appointed officials who get paid with our tax money. If we are so damn lucky to have the best crime fighter in the world, Joseph Santiago, we need to let him know he NEEDS to start living up to that reputation: he needs to keep us informed, he needs to make sure all of our crime-fighting cameras are working consistently, and, for the love of god, he needs to stop saying, "crime is down," after all we have been through this year. We need an honest, direct leader who will help us sort out this mess as best as possible.

Maybe our efforts will help, even just a little bit. I hope.

In the meantime, Happy Holidays!

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