Monday, July 20, 2009

Murder on the block

Two nights ago, three doors down from my house, a man stepped out of his car, took a few steps across the parking lot toward his apartment building and was shot dead.

I pause here now at the curb on the following Sunday morning, on my way to the park for a walk with my wife and daughter and dog, looking at the police line tape that has fallen slack and sways weakly in the breeze, trying to place where the body fell, looking for bullet holes in the wall, hoping not to see a blood stain, wondering why I didn’t hear the shots or sirens and trying to convince myself that things like that don’t happen in my neighborhood, even though it just did.

This has been a violent year in Akron, and especially within the past few weeks, when the news has played against a drumbeat of shootings and beating and stabbings. On the Fourth of July, a family was attacked by a mob of teenagers as they walked home from a fireworks display. Two nights later, a man stabbed his brother to death. Two days after that, a man walking near a park at dusk was shot in the back. The following night, a store owner shot and killed a robber. And then the next night, in this parking lot at the corner where my kids make the turn on their bikes, another man was murdered.

This was the city’s seventh homicide of the year, and the third in the past two weeks. As I write this, police are investigating another. Akron’s not the kind of place where news like this is so common. In a relatively stable city of just over 200,000, most of us feel secure. In Ohio, one of those states that always seems to be watching its back, Akron has reliably ranked among the safest places. When we learn of a violent crime here, we in the middle class scan down through the newspaper paragraphs, looking for the neighborhood, expecting that it happened “there,” in a place we might expect this sort of thing, a bad part of town, a neighborhood we can avoid.
But this year, it all seems, literally and figuratively, closer to home.

So we’ve been looking for different answers, and focusing on the one that seems to be the theme of everything this year.

Is it the economy?

That’s the logical question, the main variable that sets this summer apart from others in the recent past. My wife asked a friend on the police force that question.

Maybe, he said, his uncertain answer revealing a more likely truth: he doesn’t know. None of us knows. Much of the violence appears to carry the familiar back-story of drug dealing and street feuds. The man killed in my neighborhood was charged earlier this year for beating and robbing a man who was to testify against him in a cocaine case. His own sister told the Akron Beacon Journal, “We think his lifestyle probably caught up with him.”

Somehow, I’m supposed to draw comfort from that, but I don’t. This year feels desperate in so many ways that it’s hard to separate one aspect from another. Almost every working person I know has lost a job or taken a buyout or accepted a pay cut or seen an increased workload or just generally sweated out the constant tension of a situation that has left almost no one feeling safe.
The other night I was talking to a friend who has had his pay reduced and hours increased because of staff cuts, and his reaction was that he’s relieved just to have kept his job.

Akron’s unemployment rate is hovering around 10 percent, close to twice what it was a year ago. People don’t have money to spend. Nothing feels secure. No one knows what’s around the corner.

So it’s hard not to extend that anxiety to the worst parts of human nature. Society’s a system and when the entire system is under a strain, it stands to reason that most extreme responses to hard times will be magnified.

Is the economy to blame for this yellow tape stretched across the parking lot?

As we say when we really don’t know: maybe. But even if I knew for sure, I wouldn’t feel any better.

26 comments:

  1. We've seen an increase in crime in my neighborhood in Chicago. Traditionally this neighborhood is very safe, but lately there have been guns drawn and muggings in broad daylight. Unemployment has reached 10% here, too, and people feel desperate.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Very interesting blog. Alot of blogs I see these days don't really provide anything that I'm interested in, but I'm most definately interested in this one. Just thought that I would post and let you know. สล็อตออนไลน์

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is highly informatics, crisp and clear. I think that everything has been described in systematic manner so that reader could get maximum information and learn many things. สล็อต 999

    ReplyDelete
  5. i read a lot of stuff and i found that the way of writing to clearifing that exactly want to say was very good so i am impressed and ilike to come again in future.. สล็อตวอเลท

    ReplyDelete
  6. I havent any word to appreciate this post.....Really i am impressed from this post....the person who create this post it was a great human..thanks for shared this with us. สล็อตแตกง่าย

    ReplyDelete
  7. Admiring the time and effort you put into your blog and detailed information you offer!.. บา คา ร่า วอ เลท

    ReplyDelete
  8. I haven’t any word to appreciate this post.....Really i am impressed from this post....the person who create this post it was a great human..thanks for shared this with us. บา คา ร่า วอ เลท

    ReplyDelete
  9. I’ve been searching for some decent stuff on the subject and haven't had any luck up until this point, You just got a new biggest fan!.. สล็อตเว็บใหญ่

    ReplyDelete
  10. This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I love seeing blog that understand the value. Im glad to have found this post as its such an interesting one! I am always on the lookout for quality posts and articles so i suppose im lucky to have found this! I hope you will be adding more in the future... บา คา ร่า วอ เลท

    ReplyDelete
  11. Fabulous post, you have denoted out some fantastic points, I likewise think this s a very wonderful website. I will visit again for more quality contents and also, recommend this site to all. Thanks. สล็อต ฝาก-ถอน true wallet ไม่มี บัญชีธนาคาร

    ReplyDelete
  12. Nice post! This is a very nice blog that I will definitively come back to more times this year! Thanks for informative post. บาคาร่าวอเลท

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thanks for taking the time to discuss that, I feel strongly about this and so really like getting to know more on this kind of field. Do you mind updating your blog post with additional insight? It should be really useful for all of us. สล็อตแตกง่าย

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thank you so much for sharing this great blog.Very inspiring and helpful too.Hope you continue to share more of your ideas.I will definitely love to read. สล็อตxo

    ReplyDelete
  15. I found your this post while searching for information about blog-related research ... It's a good post .. keep posting and updating information. เว็บสล็อต

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thanks for providing recent updates regarding the concern, I look forward to read more. เว็บสล็อตเว็บตรง

    ReplyDelete
  17. Your blog provided us with valuable information to work with. Each & every tips of your post are awesome. Thanks a lot for sharing. Keep blogging.. เว็บตรงสล็อต

    ReplyDelete
  18. I felt very happy while reading this site. This was really very informative site for me. I really liked it. This was really a cordial post. Thanks a lot!. เว็บ ตรง

    ReplyDelete
  19. Cool stuff you have got and you keep update all of us. เกมสล็อต

    ReplyDelete
  20. It proved to be Very helpful to me and I am sure to all the commentators here! สล็อตทรูวอเลท

    ReplyDelete
  21. Admiring the time and effort you put into your blog and detailed information you offer!.. สล็อต เว็บ ตรง

    ReplyDelete
  22. I haven’t any word to appreciate this post.....Really i am impressed from this post....the person who create this post it was a great human..thanks for shared this with us. สล็อตทรูวอเลท

    ReplyDelete
  23. Thanks for providing recent updates regarding the concern, I look forward to read more. สล็อต เว็บ ตรง

    ReplyDelete