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November 18, 2014

livin' in ditmas park

There is a pretty unique situation happening in my happenin' Brooklyn neighborhood of Ditmas Park.  (If you are not local to NYC, Ditmas is a leafy nabe in the dead center of the borough filled with gorgeous Victorians, and adjacent to some of the most ethnically diverse areas in the entire city.)  What's going on?  We have our very own crime wave, with five armed robberies in the past three weeks.  And these are not your garden variety stick-ups, but rather hold-ups of bars and restaurants with the customers in them.  One happened a block away from my apartment, at 8:30 at night.  Scary stuff!

Not that I'm actually scared.  I might be a little too chill for that — this is clearly a crew that is pushing their luck, and are destined to be behind bars soon even though our precinct is a little bit less than ept.  However, my many friends in the service industry are rightfully freaked out, and the people who I've met who were victims are well shook up.

But as interesting as it is to live through this truly novel time, the real interest is in how our little community is reacting to it.  Which is to say, thoughtfully, and also garbage.

There's a little website that serves as our town square, Ditmas Park Corner, and it is in the comments that these conversations are happening.  I know: never read the comments, and obviously the content therein is mitigated by whatever 21st Century malady that enables people to act like absolute monsters when anonymous and on the web.  But there is some honest talk about gentrification, or, to put a less glamorous moniker on it, what is happening to cities like New York and the many many neighborhoods thereof.  Even outside of the boom times, there is a push and pull between longtime residents and the news ones that move in.  And we are in a boom time, real estate-wise, so that tension is a lot more tense.

And even in the garbage comments there's a possibly nuanced conversation (except for the one racist dude who always deletes his comment — eff him), as there are two or three commenters who truly believe that the crime wave is not the result of the pressures of gentrification, but rather our new mayor, Bill de Blasio, who they blame for tying the hands of the police by cutting back on stop and frisk.  Now this is nonsense of course (S&F was being cut back two years before de Blasio was swept into office), but hey, let's do talk about policing!  Our precinct traditionally is more of a responsive force than a patrolling force, and it was rare that you would see a cop that wasn't actually at a crime scene.

Good news: in recent days I've seen foot patrols.  It's not quite a return to the beat cop, which I'd prefer, but it's a start.

Anyhow!  Interesting times, and it's nice to realize that your community is a living breathing organism.

Posted by mrbrent at 2:35 PM