A lot of the, as Erick Sermon would say, “bourgie mufuckas” I hang out with, myself included, have been holding discussions lately about a resurgence in crime in the N-Y-C as a result of the recent change in economic conditions (read: Madoff f*ckery). It’s not like there is no criminal activity occurring currently in our fine boroughs (see: NYPOST’s NY Crime semi-blog if you have doubts), it’s just that most of us our old enough to think back to a time when it seemed worse.
A lot worse.
Granted, it’s funny to wax nostalgic every now and again about that one time you got snuffed, got your chain snatched and then had to give the dude that robbed you a bike ride to the bus stop so he could catch the N6 Qu-to-LI or some shit to meet his crew at Jones Beach (that did happen at least once to everybody, right?). But yo, I think for the most part, people don’t want a return to those “run yo shit” days. Right? Especially now that some of us are grown with kids, trying to be fathers and CEOs and what not.
The video clip above is from a documentary called Doin’ Time In Times Square, directed by Mr. Wild Style, Charlie Ahearn (peace to Supergoon). The footage presents a brawl and subsequent wallet snatch. Don’t know about the circumstances or if the man that got splayed deserved it or not, although from the looks of it he did try to sucker punch someone from behind. That’s beside the point though. Is this what I hear a lot of y’all say you miss? That just don’t make sense to me though. This idea reminds me of a lyric from an artist I hold in great esteem:
“…paint a portrait of the ghetto, so sweet, make y’all suburban kids think, I’m one fortunate fellow…”
Whether or not you miss “it”, some economists seem to think we need to brace ourselves. Ok, ok. I’m pretty sure I get that most of y’all don’t really miss crime per se, but maybe you just miss a less corporate and teenie bopperish Times Square. Ok fine, go chill downtown or something then. Or maybe Williamsburg or even Cobble Hill. I don’t know. Just stop saying “ah, man, I really wish it would go back to the way it was”. Cause the way it was, was kinda f*cked up. Plus, have you been to Times Square past midnight, that ish can still get kind of gully.
In any case, it has been theorized that the decrease in crime over the past decade or so had less to do with Giuliani & Bloomberg and their magnificent police force and more to do with shifts in demographics and all around economic prosperity. Could it be? In a separate article, Police Commissioner R. Kelly makes it clear he likes his job, I mean, he disagrees:
For his part, the New York police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, said he did not subscribe to the idea that there was a strong connection between a city’s financial fortunes and its safety. He said he and his top commanders had had informal talks about the current economic conditions and what they might mean for crime, but had set no specific policy changes in motion that are related to economic circumstances.
I’m still reading different opinions on the matter but I have to admit I tend to agree that poor economic conditions can have a greater overall impact on criminal activity rising than policing programs can have on it decreasing. Not to mention that I think there are much more effective deterrents to crime than more uniformed young bucks packin’ heat. But let’s not get into that right now.
Continue reading the NYTimes article: Keeping Wary Eye on Crime as Economy Sinks
On a slightly different note, there was a study recently published, headed by James Alan Fox of Northeastern University, that suggested murders amongst black youths were on the rise (nationwide, mind you, not NYC specific). The study has received a lot of press, even on hip-hop sites. But I guess that’s no surprise as it makes for a very clickable headline (I was actually more surprised that no one embedded this gp wu video. C’mon, don’t let me down predictables!). But I noticed not too many sites have covered any opposing views. One I came across that deserves attention is from Freakonomics author, Steven Levitt. In his rebuttal he argues that Fox’s numbers are misleading since they cover 2000 going forward. If we were to look at a longer timeline, as presented by this chart, things look a lot different.
Not to mention that the percentages cited in Fox’s report don’t seem to account for “the change in the population of young black males over this time period.” Since there are more black youths in the population, some increase would be expected, no?
Mr. Levitt’s last point about crime control is excellent also so here it is: “I would argue that it is time to experiment with something more radical that would actually save the government an enormous amount of money: ending the war on drugs.” He ended with “more on that soon”. So shall I. More on this soon.