priorities

Hello,

What’s the most pressing priority facing downtown Nashville? Have any suggestions? Go ahead, I’ll wait..



Oh hello, sorry, I was out washing my hair. What’s that you say? Education? No, no — the federal government has that all wrapped up. It’s cool — I understand that no child (not one!) is going to be left behind. Crime? Like, for example, people getting shot on the most popular tourist strip in Nashville? No, that’s cool, too. They moved a couple of extra cops onto the Sunday night shift. Besides, it was just black people anyway. Is it the utter economic desolation of downtown Nashville outside of speculative luxury condo building permits? No, no.

Of course, as anyone would know, it’s panhandlers. That’s what I learned tonight, anyway, at the Downtown Partnership’s forum. The real menace of Nashville is … cue dramatic swell — people asking for money on the street!

Horror of horrors — it has finally come to pass. Nashville, as the only real urban pioneer in this country, is unfortunately enduring the growing pains unlike any other — enduring the reality that real, actual poor people are congregating in their city. Because no other city has ever faced such a mind-blowingly unbelievable threat, we’re forced to forge ahead and draw a line in the sand.

What to do? Don’t worry. Faithful bands of upper middle class white people are banding together and taking action. They gave us all sorts of instruction on how to avoid conflict with these nasty (and dangerous!) people. Be firm! They are making cards to hand out — cards that instruct you brilliantly on how to make eye contact and avoid the person or person(s) asking for money. These cards provide helpful instructions such as “call 211” and other helpful instructions on defeating capitalism, which I can only assume work really well.

But, this isn’t always enough. We have to work together as a community with the police. They can help us protect ourselves from this insidious threat, which is quickly threatening to completely ruin our brief walks from our car to our condomium. After all, if we’re not safe, what are we? We have dogs to walk, people!! How can we walk our dogs if we’re being asked for money every once in a while!! It’s not safe!!

And what’s at stake is truly our very safety. This is most clearly demonstrated by the sheer numbers of panhandler-on-civilian violence, which is reaching epidemic proportions. I don’t have the numbers handy, but I did ask the policewoman present what the numbers were. She didn’t have them on her person either, exactly, but she did assure me that no less than 60% of crimes in the downtown area involved street persons!! My gosh, I feel less safe already. “Crimes involving street persons against other street persons, or crimes in which street people were victims,” she continued, “it just goes to show that being on the street isn’t safe.”

No argument there! I certainly hope that her efforts continue, and we quickly move to outlaw living on the street! Who are these heathens that so threaten to pollute our streets with their filthy presence? I can only assume that some portion of this 60% of crimes included, perhaps one or two innocent people attacked by a vicious, blood-thirsty pan-handler.

Anyways, although I was very disturbed by all the anecdotal stories being batted back and forth, I was assured by one woman at the bar who put it best. Her bleached blonde hair shimmering in the light of the bar, rotating its colors like a schizophrenic rainbow, she put it as succinctly and clearly as I could have possibly hoped:

“Homeless people don’t have rights — homeowners do.”

And what, really, is there to say beyond that? She’s right. I’m hoping to get in contact with this woman of vision, and seeing if she’ll work with me to make some nifty pamphlets, black armbands, and such. I think we’re on the cusp of a real revolution here.

(Sidenote: Kate is faster, more succinct, and less sarcastic than I am)

2 Comments so far

  1. Kate O' (unregistered) on July 10th, 2007 @ 8:58 am

    But lo, your sarcasm is a wonder to behold.


  2. susan (unregistered) on July 11th, 2007 @ 9:22 am

    A few years back, a real estate agent asked what I thought about people moving downtown. I told him that (for his market) I thought most of them were far too under-socialized to be happy down there.

    There’s nothing wrong with educating people but qualified teachers would be nice. I know there are those who disagree but I think the campaign is both counterproductive and wrongheaded.



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