August 10, 2008

This Is What It Is

One Killed, Six Wounded After Parade In Hartford
By JEFFREY B. COHEN | Courant Staff Writer

The popular West Indian pride festial / parade was marred by violence last night, by all accounts a gan related shooting, in a crowded venue, with much collateral damage. Three individuals, and three guns, have been taken into custody.

Just a few blocks down the street, a group of young men and women were gathered for a Stop the Violence campaign, having spent much of the day handing out T-shirts and speaking to children about the importance of education.

The shootings left them deflated, they said.

"It's our reality," Mike-Charles Nahounou said of the shootings. "We're born and raised here. A lot of the people that end up dying or doing the shooting were people we watched grow up, or even our peers. This is what it is."

I spent a lovely evening in Hartford, watching a movie with friends. Just a few miles from the carnage but a world away. Increasingly, there is a sense of two Hartfords, in multiple strata. There is Hartford Proper (dangerous, poor, scary) and Greater Hartford, a poor city ringed by affluent bedroom communities. And there is even within Hartford, a divide between the safer neighborhoods, and the war zones. And there are a lot of good people, innocent people, living in these violent areas.

I don't know what to say, I don't know what to do. The police force and the city government seem ineffective at dealing with this stuff. Cracking down on drugs, on violence, on parole violators, on quality of life issues would surely just increase the number of young urban city residents rotting in jail, a ticking time bomb when they are released, hardened and angry.

Indeed, this is what it is. So sad.

1 comment:

Julie Dixon said...

Hi Jude,

I feel that "worlds away" feeling almost every day.

Although the issues I have with the city are legitimate, how can they even compare with the needs of a hungry child, the despair of a mother whose son was just shot...

I often feel guilty raising my concerns with the city. "Poor me! My property values are going down because my neighbor is letting her house fall apart! Poor me! I was awakened early on Sunday morning by the jerky kid on a crotch rocket! Poor me! I have to pick up trash on my block!"

I don't know what to do either.

I certainly don't want the violent world we read about in the paper to visit my neighborhood.

But there really are completely different Hartfords.

I was mocking myself the other day: "Here I sit, in my lovely perennial garden, sipping an espresso and alternately reading a Japanese novel and writing an essay. And later I shall dine on a lovely cedar-planked salmon with sweet potato fries, washed down with that lovely Vrac from Spiritus."

And a few miles away a young man just got popped and is dying on the street.