Dre\’s Ramblings

Wednesday’s abduction should cause us to pay more attention
June 2, 2006, 6:37 am
Filed under: Birmingham Links, Birmingham, AL, other cities, urban issues

After getting my hair cut, I was determined to get home and start on this entry. I was stopped as I got into my car by one of my friends heading to a performance in the city center. As I hobbled towards the car door, she yelled across the street, “What do you think about what happened yesterday?” I knew what she was talking about immediately and answered, “I think that it wouldn’t have gotten as much ink if it had been in Mountain Brook.” Imagine the smile on my face when the Birmingham News published a report this morning that said the exact same thing. (Crime danger downtown like Mtn. Brook, officer says, The Birmingham News, 6.2.2006)

There is also a perception that this was a call to arms and an outrageous event. If you visited other newspapers in large cities across the United States, the story did not get reported the same way, nor was the issue of downtown safety as stressed by those reporting it. (Alabama lawyer safe after abduction, Chicago Tribune, 6.1.2006; Nine hour ordeal ends with rescue, The Birmingham News, 6.1.2006) Safety downtown is a major issue; it’s not just limited to those living in the downtown area. As the first story suggests, I’d be surprised if something did not happen “over the mountain” or north of the city. It simply does not get the same coverage in our local media.

When you choose to live in any urban area, you have chosen to also become more aware of your surroundings. If nothing else, Wednesday’s events should remind us to pay attention to what’s happening around us. Without being nosy, people can look out for each other, helping to make an area safer. Anyone that says that it’s unsafe to be downtown, it’s unsafe to be anywhere, but I refuse to stay locked up in my house unable to live and enjoy life. As the summer heats up, there will undoubtedly be more concern as thousands of people venture into the city center for activities ranging from City Stages to Movies by Moonlight to expanded hours and activities at McWane Center. Something like what happened on Wednesday to Ms. Gregory is upsetting and inexcusable on every level. It also reminds us to be more diligent in our awareness and makes us work towards having it happen on a less frequent basis.

Let me know your thoughts,



1 Comment so far
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Those people who claim that downtown is unsafe because of this incident are throwing the baby out with the bathwater. They probably forgot about the numerous crime incidents that happened in the parking areas of the Galleria.

My boyfriend owns a loft downtown, and I don’t feel uneasy coming to and fro. My exposure to strangers is definitely higher going to his loft than going to my house which is in a neighborhood. Thus, I’d say the risk of being involved in a crime can be higher by living in an urban environment due to increased exposure, but one might also become involved in a crime simply by going shopping or running errands. There are a few nutty folks wandering the streets downtown who seem to know my boyfriend pretty well, and I’m not worried about those people. The random strangers would be the ones who perpetrate crime. In terms of feeling safe indoors, his loft is much safer than my house. A thief would have to go through several obstacles to break into his loft; and only one door or window to break into my house.

I have also worked downtown for several years, and I don’t feel unsafe walking around in the middle of the day. It would be a riskier venture (in terms of accident/bodily harm) if I drove my car to lunch every day. I consider the ability to walk to each lunch a low-stress perk of my job.

Comment by megabeth

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