Urban Nightmare

August 13, 2007

Stanley Crouch suggests in the New York Daily News that the presidential candidates are ignoring the plight of nation’s urban centers. Here’s a taste:

One Newark man interviewed by CBS seemed to speak for all of those living under the oppression of violent crime when he said that the neighborhood where the three young people were murdered is under siege. There seemed to be more robberies, burglaries and carjackings. But Newark Police Chaplain John McClain, who is the great uncle of one of the three victims, said that the killers should be thought of as what they are, terrorists.

A New Jersey resident asked a fundamental question, “Will these knuckleheads have to join the Ku Klux Klan before this country wakes up and faces the horror of what they are doing?” I think that question should be answered by every one of those running for President because the corpses will not have stopped piling up throughout our concrete killing fields when the next commander in chief is sworn in.

As a resident of Philadelphia, which is not only near Newark, but has problems of its own, this issue concerns me as well. Mayoral favorite Michael Nutter has a plan, once he wins the general, which he will. Which is something:

Unless the situation changes dramatically between now and then, he would work quickly as mayor to lay the groundwork for declaring crime emergencies in three to five city neighborhoods.

In those “targeted enforcement zones,” police would have the power to prohibit outdoor gatherings, limit the movement of vehicles, establish a curfew, and prohibit the possession of all weapons. Additional officers would be deployed, with orders to stop, question and frisk anyone they had to reason to believe was carrying a gun.

Frankly, the whole idea of searches on demand does make my inner civil libertarian a little bit ill, but ride the R5 through out past the North Broad, Fern Rock and Wayne Junction stations sometime, look out your window, and tell me he might not have a point. We are on pace to break 400 murders again by the end of the year. Something needs to be done, here and in a plethora of elsewheres, and I would like to hear presidential candidates discuss it.