A few years back I moved to Harlem from Atlanta excited about living in one of the most famous and recognizable neighborhoods in the country; a neighborhood in the middle of an historic renaissance – great restaurants, an exploding real estate market, bursting at the seams with culture, as safe as any other New York City neighborhood.
Hell, I can see the famed Apollo Theater from my house, just two blocks away.
But something has changed in the last couple of months.
In March, one of my friends who convinced me to move to the neighborhood permanently texted me writing quote: “Was attacked in front of my building as I was coming in for the night. Punched multiple times in the head and smacked in the face. Unknown man was arrested and I filed a police report. Be safe.”
Are you ok, I responded?
“Yes,” he wrote, really scary. Guy is in jail. I called police. They arrested him on FD. This is the second attack in 6 months.”
Btw, FD means Frederick Douglass Boulevard, which happens to be the street I live on.
Then last month while I was reporting in Baltimore, I got a text from my upstairs neighbor named Al.
The text reads, and I quote, “I was walking back from Lido and I heard 3 gun shots right behind me. Turned around and saw 3-4 men running away from the scene. Cops were at the scene 4 minutes after and an ambulance just arrived. Scary…”
I responded by asking if he was ok and if anyone was hurt?
Al: “I think so since the ambulance showed up. I will watch the local news at 11.
Just last week I was FaceTiming with a friend from Atlanta when I heard what I thought were fireworks outside my window.
My friend could hear it over the phone.
By the time I made it to the window I could see several men running, but not fast enough for the police, because they got them right away.
Turns out the police station is right across the street from my house.
The next day I asked several officers standing out front of the police station what happened.
They told me someone started shooting right behind the precinct and then continued on with, “How stupid is that? Be careful mister, it’s happening more and more lately.”
And just this week, a woman was stabbed and killed about 15 blocks from my home.
I’m sharing this with you because the problem, for me, is not just one you see on the news; not just one I debate back and forth on CNN.
The problem is now literally in my own backyard.
Shootings are rising in New York now two years straight, the first time since the late 90’s.
Homicides are up 20 percent over last year, mostly from guns.
The story is the same in Baltimore – Homicides up some 40 percent – gun violence more than 60 percent.
Milwaukee, homicides are up 180 percent.
Chicago, shootings are up 24 percent, homicides 17 percent.
You get the point.
But when homicides and gun play increase so dramatically in New York City the conversation turns to Stop-and-Frisk, and whether the slowdown in police using the controversial law enforcement tactic has contributed to the uptick.
What’s to believe?
Liberal outfits like The Huffington Post, quoting civil liberties unions, will tell you Stop-and-Frisk has had no effect on the crime surge.
More moderate organizations like the New York Times, quoting officers on the street, will tell you quote, “Those who might choose to carry a gun are now more emboldened to do so and that it was a daily occurrence that routine street stops by officers — for offenses like drinking in public and double-parked cars — have turned up guns.”
Conservative papers like The New York Post, quoting victims of crime, street cops and police brass, will flat out tell you, quote, “But Hizzoner’s (meaning Mayor Bill di Blasio) stop-and-frisk ban intentionally ties cops’ hands, leaving city streets potentially awash in guns. And blood.
On CNN we have reported that cops all over the country say they feel their hands are being tied, so they aren’t as proactive as they could be.
Wherever the truth lies in any of the reporting, the fact is that New York City will begin deploying hundreds of extra officers to high crime areas while also increasing overtime on weekends and adding more foot patrols.
Cities across the country will no doubt follow suit.
Let’s hope it works!
Don Lemon: Crime Surge Brings Back Stop And Frisk Debate was originally published on blackamericaweb.com