Saturday, January 06, 2007

How to plan a march to city hall

Well, I'm still figuring that out, but I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday morning I was sitting in Coffea when Kappa, the owner of Slim Goodies came in and announced that there'd been a murder in the neighborhood. A woman was killed and her husband injured. I went online and read that their two year old had been found cradled in the injured father's bloody arms. People gathered around the computer in disbelief. Gwen gave me my to go order on a real plate for me to take home, and when I came back with the plate an hour later, she was closing the shop. The woman who lost her life was Helen Hill. A few days earlier I'd shared the couch at Coffea with her husband and son, who wore bells on his shoes so his would know if he started toddling away.

I got on the neighborhood forum and asked "Is anyone planning a march to city hall?" No one was, but quickly responded that they would be there if there was one. I drove to Sound Cafe, because I knew that they were close with the Hot Eight Brass Band, who lost their drummer the previous Thursday. He, too, was shot and killed in front of his children. Baty Landis, the owner of the cafe, was talking with a few people when I walked in, and I knew that they could only be talking about one thing.

"We need to do something," I said. "But I don't know how."

None of us knew how, really, although we all have some experience doing things like this. And within twelve hours we were being interviewed by journalists and getting a surprise visit from the mayor's office wanting to know what role he might play in our plans.

This morning, the mayor and police chief finally had something to say about the insane crime wave that has overtaken the city. But they need to do more than say that they are talking about ways to address the situation. They need to actually address it. They need to respond to each event. They need to support the police and allow them to do their jobs. They need to acknowledge that they need more help. They need to fund the criminal justice system, which doesn't have the money to prosecute anyone. And they need to find something for people to do in the city if they are not here to work or attend school.

And that's just the beginning.

So, anyway, its a pretty busy, distracting, depressing time here. But I'll keep you posted.

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