Not On My Street


9 comments posted
Well said Megan. I'm with

Well said Megan. I'm with you. I like the idea of giving people supplies to help themselves avoid illness by handing out free crackpipes, but when they're left broken on my doorstep and kids here can step on them, I wonder whose health is being taken into consideration.

I call the cops, too. My daughter asked me once if I have the number programmed on my phone and was surprised to hear that I don't. I just have number memorized through frequent use. Does it help? I don't know. But I also can't pretend it's not happening and I can't not call when people are yelling out for help.

Posted by Jamine (not verified) on Fri, 08/21/2009 - 06:57
I think you are being too

I think you are being too hard on yourself.

You can only control your own actions, not those of others. You aren't the one hitting women. You aren't the one dealing crack. You aren't the one out causing a disturbance on your street.

Fascist, and corrupt to the core the cops may be, but they are ones who can deal with this mess.

And a mess it is, because no one has a right to physically harm another person, regardless of "the system" in use, a concept the people in the HAS don't seem to grasp.

So as much as you think you are calling for your own selfish reasons (and perhaps they play a part in you calling as well), the times when you did actually call the cops, was when someone other than yourself was being harmed.

Good for you. That takes balls. So many other people would just look away because they "don't want to get involved" and turn a "blind eye". Sometimes apathy is the worst crime in the world.

Posted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 08/21/2009 - 07:38
I'm with Anonymous, Megan.

I'm with Anonymous, Megan. If women are getting pummeled on your street and if your neighbours' behaviour has moved from suspicious to aggressive, you have every right to call the cops. It's not a contradiction to firmly believe in harm reduction while also alerting the cops to violence in your neighbourhood.

I feel quite privileged, because my neighbours dealt with this stuff on my street a decade ago. It makes me nauseous that poorer, more "undesirable" people got pushed off of my street. But as a woman who often walks home from the gym or from a bus stop alone at night, I am grateful that I don't feel threatened on my street.

You have every right to try and make your place a safer place for everyone, especially the women across the street.

Posted by Ariel (not verified) on Fri, 08/21/2009 - 09:11
I understand where you're

I understand where you're coming from. I feel the same way when I'm put in the position of standing there with my phone in my hand, listening to the aggression escalating in an alcohol-fueled dispute on my street, trying to decide if or when to call the police. But usually there's something - some sudden change in the tone or quality of the dispute - that leaves me with no choice. A woman starts screaming and the sheer terror in her voice pushes me off the fence. Last time it was when someone started screaming "Not the dog, please, please, don't hurt the dog!" and the dog started yelping. I couldn't not call.

I only call when I have no choice, as opposed to the kind of people who look for a reason to call. I suspect you're like me. We don't like having to do it, but sometimes it's the right thing to do.

Posted by zoom (not verified) on Fri, 08/21/2009 - 14:47
Agreed. I have in the past

Agreed. I have in the past been on the fence about calling because I don't like to be a nuisance (how Canadian is that?), but there was this one time, back in a fancier neighbourhood, where I looked down at the street to find a woman screaming at her daughter from the driver's seat of a locked car, angry about something the girl had done. The girl was sobbing and shrieking and falling into puddles as she tried to get into the car, clearly terrified that she was going to be left on the street. I don't have kids, so I don't like to judge the parenting of others, but there was something so desperate about the whole scene that my lizard brain just said NO and grabbed the phone. I don't know who I would have called, exactly, but before I could get a licence plate or anything useful, a neighbour came out to deal with the situation and the woman bundled up her child and drove off.

Besides, I think the people associated with the HAS have the right to live a life unbroken by others' despair and addiction, too. Even if your call only prevents a single situation from getting just one degree worse, it's worth it.

Posted by anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 08/21/2009 - 16:27
A very lucid and responsible

A very lucid and responsible line of thinking, Megan. It's easy to use 'a woman got hit' as a trump, justifying all further action on the part of concerned citizens. And 'crack,' is such an ugly word these days, isn't it?

But crack was the subject of a massive, massive moral panic not too long ago. We can't think that the word itself isn't imbued with a whole lot of ugly, and terror. We also can't think that the meanings with which the word is imbued doesn't serve as a go-ahead justifying all sorts of intervention including calling in the brutal, racist, heavy hand of the police.

But you live downtown, and everyone who lives downtown has to expect the kind of dynamics you've got on your street in terms of noise and drugs and disruption.
Violence, for sure if you want to call the police to break it up, do it. No good somebody getting hurt. But the other stuff? The noise and 'creepy strangers' and disruption? That's part and parcel of living downtown and, for people who either live in large cities or live in cities that aren't Ottawa, part of life more generally. People who don't want such dynamics should consider moving to a nice, quiet suburb where people keep their violence, abuse and addiction behind closed doors like nice, civilized people.

Ultimately this is the argument that's being invoked by the concerned members of your street: appropriate versus inappropriate behaviour which coincidentally falls exactly along the lines of the 'civilized' versus 'uncivilized behavior' argument: civilized, in the strictest and most politically accurate (yes) use of the word, means 'pacified,' where drives are muted, people control themselves, and base, bodily actions (like yelling, like violence, like urination) are kept behind the scenes.

But when we set up this scene of 'desirable versus undesirable behaviour,' when we consider what the proscriptions for such behaviour are, when we see how people think of themselves as 'concerned citizens' when they make their proscriptions and call the cops in to enforce them, we can't deny the long, longstanding class and racial dynamics that we are invoking, or the currency of these dynamics that we're dealing in. I'm so glad you mention them in your post. The middle-class Victorians, had they not sequestered the undesirables in their own hell-holes, would have been saying the same things members of your street are saying, with as much fervour, with as much conviction and passion. And in both instances, what is actually going on is the same. The privileged cry 'NIMBY!' and plead for us to think of the children, of the vulnerability of women, ultimately using these intuitive arguments as cause for state intervention that says 'get out' under the aegis of 'keep our streets safe.'

Anyway, I'd say, keep thinking like you're thinking. It's a better, more critical, more humane way to move through the world.

Posted by Anon (not verified) on Sat, 08/22/2009 - 12:36
Wow. Thanks everyone, for

Wow. Thanks everyone, for such thoughtful responses all around.

Posted by megan on Sat, 08/22/2009 - 13:20
Meg, it's your RIGHT to live

Meg, it's your RIGHT to live in a safe environment! What ever your personal feelings are toward the cops it is your tax money that pays their wages and it is their JOB to ensure all communities are safe places to be. Call the cops.

Your safety, the safety of your community, shouldn't take a back seat to someone else's hard luck story.

Posted by Dave (not verified) on Wed, 08/26/2009 - 22:29
It's possible to overthink

It's possible to overthink situations like this. Sometimes you have to go with your gut response because that's your basic human survival/self-protection instinct kicking in. Can we really be so afraid to make judgments or be so afraid not to be PC that we would stand by while people are hurting each other? One thing we did in a neighbourhood I used to live in like this was organize a neighbourhood committee - invite everyone, including the people from the crack house. Have it at someone's house or back yard, informal. Discuss issues, meet each other. That in itself can sometimes work wonders. If you want to take it further invite a rep from the police to give a talk/advice at the next meeting.

Posted by XUP (not verified) on Mon, 08/31/2009 - 10:34