Constantly looking over your shoulder? Wary of even the most innocent looking 12-year-old walking toward you? Darting over to that wayward brick or large rock on the sidewalk, quickly carrying it off to a garbage can to make sure it doesn’t wind up in your driver’s side window, or worse? Well, you must be living in one of Washington, D.C.’s tourist areas or entertainment districts.
Two weeks ago, I watched a group of middle school kids (we’re talking 11- and 12-year-olds) beat up a guy walking to the U Street Metro, and now the Common Denominator confirms what we already knew: it’s a full-fledged crime wave. And I don’t like it one bit. (For the record, I live in the Metropolitan Police’s Third District — in fact, I’m three blocks away from 3D HQ!)
But what can I/we do? Just today, I got an e-mail from my city councilman that four kids at a nearby public housing project admitted to throwing rocks at people (which, in my neighborhood, means that the same kids will likely chuck a brick at your head from three feet away — I’m not exaggerating). The families have been evicted, but what does that do? The kids will hurl rocks and lumber at people in another neighborhood? And what about the parents? There’s got to be an existing problem if they’ve raised kids who think it’s OK to violently assault strangers in perfect daylight, so what happens now that they’ve been evicted?
I guess it’s a vicious circle, and I wonder what one person, or a group of people, or even an entire neighborhood can do to break the cycle? Communities don’t build themselves, that’s for sure, but what can I do? What can any of us do?