Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Open Letter to a Wannabe Vigilante

You don't know me. For all I know you might not even be aware of this little thing we call a "weblog." Anyhoo, I hope someone clues you to tis place, so that you read what I have to say.

I moved to Bridgeport seven years ago as a last resort; it turned into a salvation, of sorts. I've grown to accept the neighborhood for what it is, both its treasures and its flaws. Now, I'm far from naive about the increasingly persistent gang activity in the neighborhood. Like you, I'm concerned about it. Unlike you, I prefer to work with established deterrents like the neighborhood watch, local ward office, and police department to prevent further growth.

Apparently, that doesn't provide the necessary results for you. Which is why you went throughout the neighborhood in the middle of the night, posting on every trash can, light pole, and flat surface a notice that you were looking for like-minded people to "take our neighborhood BACK!!" from the - and I quote - "Latin Kings, wetback Mexicans, and nigger gangs." Nice of you to be so broad-minded and inclusive.

Speaking as someone who utilizes McGuane Park in some fashion everyday, let me state for the record that most of the gangbangers I've seen in that park are white kids, some of them so dopey looking that I wouldn't trust them with a loaded water pistol. None of them have tried to intimidate me, and all of them just go about minding their business, which is mainly sitting on the bleachers all day.

You also printed your phone numbers on the flyers, which I guess is helpful, in the chance you find like-minded bigots individuals for the cause. There're some problems with that, though (and that doesn't include the rash of justifiably angry crank calls you've probably been fielding all day):

  1. Your particular choice of words opens you up to possible prosecution for a hate crime, should any concerned citizen decide to run those phone numbers through reverse directory assistance (as I did), find out where you live, and have a warrant sworn out for your arrest.
  2. Those "Latin Kings, wetback Mexicans, and nigger gangs" could also run your numbers through reverse directory assistance, start vandalizing your house, and harrassing you and your family.
  3. The last thing the police need is some epithet-spewing hothead challenging possibly armed youths who think they have nothing to lose by dropping you like a stone.
In an announcement rife with faux pas, leaving your phone number was the worst one. Anyway, I posted the photo of the Willa Cather quote for your benefit, as well. I shot it in Nashville over the weekend, outside a Christian music store. She's one of my favorite writers, and was also a lesbian, so it's slightly ironic that the stone was outside the store. You might have called her a "dyke" or "carpet muncher." I thought of this quote when I read your notice ths morning, and could only believe that if you spent some time acclimating yourself with your current surroundings, instead of biding your time on wistful nostalgia, the folks you singled out might eventually be recognized as "human."

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