Saturday, November 8, 2008

ride-on shooting: transit, downtown development isn't to blame for tragedy

The man who shot and killed a Blair High freshman on a Ride-On bus last weekend has been arrested, but the fallout remains. This comes from different posters on one of the Downtown Silver Spring-area listservs:
"Many of us expressed concern that concert venues like Live Nation & Purple Line Trains on Wayne Avenue will introduce more bad behavior and increase crime in residential neighborhoods."

"I will probably move out of Silver Spring in due time as a result of the high and increasing crime rate."
A kid gets shot by a gang member on a bus while coming home from a night in Downtown Silver Spring, and we choose to blame the public transit and the activity Downtown for it. That's like saying you got drunk at a bar and you blame the bar for your drinking. Bars are a location; alcohol is the culprit. We shouldn't be pointing fingers at Ride-On and the Majestic for being a potential crime scene - we should be targeting the individuals and social institutions (like gangs) that cause it.

I want Live Nation and I want the Purple Line because I want more activity in Downtown Silver Spring. As we've discussed before, if there are a lot of eyes around, people usually won't act out. - with last week's shooting as one glaring anomaly. The more people I see, the safer I feel - thus, I feel much safer Downtown or on a bus than I would in Park Hills or Woodside or Seven Oaks, because the streets are dark and people aren't outside at night. If I were a criminal targeting someone, will it be a kid in the crowd on Ellsworth or some guy walking home down Second Avenue?

We have every right to be outraged by last week's shooting - and to do everything we can to prevent it from happening again. But we won't change anything if we don't correctly identify the problem.


Julian said...

I've lived in Long Branch for over two years (though on the side closer to Sligo Creek), and I'd like to believe that it's not horribly unsafe. I've taken the Ride-On bus home from Downtown Silver Spring late at night on weekends. I've even walked home along the same route very late at night, after buses stop running. I take the university shuttle home from school one or two evenings per week. To be quite honest, I've been lucky to have not yet been attacked.

The shooting last weekend was at least the third since June within a very small area of the neighborhood (the store shooting on University just west of Piney Branch; the police shooting of a suspect in an apartment building on University just east of Piney Branch; and a bus on Ride-On Route 20 that took fire near the corner of Piney Branch and Arliss). Not too long ago, the county moved its neighborhood police substation down Piney Branch, and more toward the interior of the neighborhood, very close to where the shooting occurred. Ironically, in the latest shooting, none of the people (presumably) involved live within the neighborhood. The shooter is from Takoma Park. According to this story from the Gazette, just a block or so away from where the city meets the unincorporated neighborhood.

I'm glad you used "fun with race" to tag this post. It just can't be ignored. I feel that there is a ton of division here in Long Branch that goes completely unnoticed from outside (and, sometimes, from within) because the neighborhood practically doesn't exist unless something bad happens. I'd rather have our neighborhood be known for our library or restaurants. It's not easy to get to know your neighbors here. Outside of my street (which is, quite possibly, the most diverse part of the neighborhood), I don't quite belong because I'm not a homeowner, and I can trace much of my ancestry in the United States back to slavery. (Sorry... that's the truth.) There really is a kind of "not your/our neighborhood" sentiment... the kind that can harbor a bit of division and misunderstanding, and can eventually lead to incidents like the one we just experienced.

I think I should start reading my neighborhood community association's discussion list more faithfully.

Ted said...

For a county (Montgomery) that provides endless services to its demanding constituents, I always wonder how people think these things are paid for. More importantly, with services continually growing through inflation and expansion, political leaders are always looking for ways to raise new money and avoid increasing, say property taxes.
Unfortunately, as long as we expect or want these government services, new ways of raising money, i.e., economic expansion will be necessary.

Thomas Hardman said...

"More eyes mean less crime."

This is true for most classes of crime. However, you can see a rather glaring exception almost every weekend down in Adams Morgan.

Despite the immense flood of police on the street -- I've been going down there since the 1980s (lived near there for a while) and I've never seen such saturation -- still there's always someone trying to snatch a wallet or grope someone's GF/BF/SO. And even though it's obvious that the place is swarming with officers both seen and unseen, last night at least a dozen or so people got arrested, gangsta in dress and evidently in behavior as well.

Crowds can be as crime riddled as the deserted streets of slumburbias. In any case, what we see down in A-M is not so much what happens on the scene, but what happens along the routes in and out of the scene. Mostly people aren't causing trouble right on 18th Street... but on the streets leading to and from it.

MetroRail -- or MetroBus -- routes leading away from the area are definitely crowded with sad or rowdy people riding the Last Call Express. But the WMATA has its own police force, and they deploy in force for the "crazy hours". Still they have a lot of problems with increasing violence coming from students in school-transit hours, and they're having to restructure and re-time their deployments.

Ride-On, so far as I know, is effectively un-policed, even at the hours and on routes one reasonably presumes could be primed for trouble. So, it's time to get more staff on the bus, though it's not clear how differently the incident under discussion might have turned out, had there been a uniformed officer on the bus. S/he, at least, would have likely been wearing armor, and if fired on, would be more likely to survive than would a 14-year old kid.

Well, at least a suspected MS-13 gangsta and known illegal alien criminal is off of the street. See my own blog for some links to the District Court records; on Oct 3rd or so, Hernandez was charged with carrying a concealed weapon.

Why he wasn't jailed without bond pending deportation processing, I don't know; if he had been, he would not have been on the streets late one night to murder one child and send two more to the hospital.