As a follow up from yesterday’s post, here’s an article in the Jersey Journal about what happened:
I would have expected a stronger statement from the city – something along the lines of: “As a city, we are appalled to hear about this attack on two of our law enforcement agents. We are working as hard as possible to make sure that justice is served, and that this community can again feel safe and proud walking down its streets.” Something like that. Instead, we get “But the reality is, we also have to address problems in other parts of the district which require attention,” which really doesn’t do much to calm the very nervous residents who walk through West Side Avenue every day.
Words matter. I think most people are sophisticated enough to know that just because the mayor’s spokesperson doesn’t explicitly say that they support their officers, that they still do. But say you’re looking to open a business on West Side Ave, and this incident just happened. Would you rather read that a city is doing all it can to prevent future incidents, or would you rather read – eh, this whole neighborhood has a lot of problems? Which would make you feel better? What if you were a young family choosing between staying on the West Side or leaving? Which would you rather hear?
What can – realistically – a mayor’s office do in a situation like this? Can they instantly deploy dozens of cops to the scene? Can they immediately and definitively provide endless assistance to people who are marginalized and give them the help they need so they don’t strike out? No, of course not. But they can set a tone. They can draw a line in the sand and say this is what we stand for and what we will and will not accept, and we will do all we can to make sure we uphold that. Just sort of admitting that the problem is somehow too big and unruly to ever really fix – well, that doesn’t really help.