Friday, September 16, 2011

council president ervin blames crime on families moving from D.C.

When you can't blame youth crime on "kids from P.G. and D.C.," just blame families from D.C. for moving here, as County Council President Valerie Ervin did during yesterday's committee meeting on the proposed teen curfew:
Council President Valerie Ervin (D-Dist. 5) of Silver Spring said the county is in the early stages of a migration of families from Washington, D.C., to Montgomery’s suburbs — leading to a shift in the type of youth violence police are witnessing on the streets. “These are kids who are from rough neighborhoods,” she said. “These kids are very street-savvy. They are different than what we were used to in the past.”
My family moved here from Petworth (via a brief stint in Prince George's County) in 1991. I spent as much time in the District. as I did in Silver Spring growing up, and my first library card was from the Shepherd Park library. We are not in the "early stages" of a migration. People have been moving from the District to Montgomery County for decades, except fifty years ago it was called "white flight," and it produced the troubled, poverty-stricken city that suburban politicians enjoy scapegoating. Of course, I'm sure that in the 1950's, county leaders were absolutely giddy to have middle-class families moving here. In fact, we could even argue that families from Washington, D.C. helped make Montgomery County what it is today.

But let's be serious: is there still a migration of families from the District to Montgomery? I looked at the 2005-2009 American Community Survey, a sort of yearly census that provides a rough estimate of demographic trends. It says that 121,000 people moved to Montgomery County within the past five years. (That may seem really high considering that the county's population increased by 100,000 in ten years, but it's offset by people moving out, dying, etc.) Of that group, 51 percent moved from another house within Montgomery County, and 12 percent moved from elsewhere in Maryland.

The Census and American Community Survey don't provide information on which state people moved from, instead lumping them into regions. Given that, we can't tell exactly how many people moved here from the District, which is included in the "Northeast" category. However, only 8,495 people moved to Montgomery County from the Northeast between 2005 and 2009, representing only 6 percent of everyone who moved into the county and less than 1 percent of all county residents.

Even if all of those people were coming from the District, it's hard to call that a "migration," especially when all you'd have to do is move across the street. There are more people in Montgomery County who moved from Rockville to Bethesda.

Perhaps we could say that the District lost its black majority to poor black families escaping struggling neighborhoods for a chance at a better life in Montgomery County. Or, we could say that affluent and middle-class families of all stripes are doing what they've been doing for decades and moving to Montgomery County for better schools. Either way, there's not enough of either group to blame the county's nonexistent rise in youth crime on "street-savvy" kids from "rough neighborhoods" in the District moving to Montgomery County.

Of course, curfew supporters know the best way to get this ill-conceived law passed is to play on fear, whether it's the provost of Montgomery College comparing Silver Spring to the fall of Rome or County Executive Ike Leggett and Police Chief Thomas Manger playing and replaying video of the Germantown "flash mob" that stole candy and sodas from a 7-Eleven. I wish our county's leaders were actually interested in tackling crime and helping youth, rather than trying to blame all their problems on surrounding communities, but perhaps that's too much to ask.


jag2923 said...

More and more I find myself daydreaming of the day when Valerie Ervin goes the way of Albert Wynn.

Woody Brosnan said...

woody brosnan wrote,
I think this was a very unfair characterization of a discussion by Council President Ervin of several changes that are impacting the county. II was at the hearing.) She certainly did not blame all crime on people moving from DC. And speaking of fear tactics, what about this constant refrain that the police are going to discriminate against minorities in the enforcement of the curfew or the over-the-top comparison by a gentleman from the Montgomery Civil Rights Coalition who said the curfew was like involuntary servitude. Let's have a reasoned discussion and avoid attacking individuals just because you disagree with them.

C. P. Zilliacus said...

Well, my family moved from the District of Columbia to Montgomery County ... in 1960.

Mostly because at the time, housing (in the form of single-family detached homes) was a lot more affordable in Montgomery than it was in D.C., and Montgomery's public schools already had a better reputation than those of D.C.

And it didn't help that D.C. was (in those days) ruled by (frequently racist) committee chairmen from various Southern states.

Now I am certain that there are some "street-savvy" criminals from D.C. that have committed crimes in Montgomery County. But in my experience, most of the criminals that we had problems with in my East County neighborhood were "home-grown."

jjj said...

the district along with maryland are in the southern region of the census