I became a pretty unpopular guy last week with a lot of Washingtonians when we defeated the Mosquito. Some folks are hoping that I get mugged by a hooligan. Others want to sue me. Someone posted my home and work address on the Internet. One particularly eloquent fellow called me a Jewboy and wished death upon me.
Of course, they don’t realize that I am not NYRA, NYRA has 10,000 members of which I am one. I was joined by many members of NYRA-DC who involved themselves in combating this injustice. The chapter has been discussing this campaign for the last month and I joined other NYRA members in submitting a complaint. The effort was led by local NYRA member and national board member Nigel Jones who was the first to submit a complaint against the Mosquito. We are all in this together and I’m happy to do my part in this very necessary campaign.
I spoke to Councilman Jack Evans’ office this morning and they were pretty adamant that they want absolutely nothing to do with this Mosquito, and I’m starting to see why. They did however, let me know that they got a lot of constituent calls and that all of those calls were supportive of the Mosquito. There is a problem with crime at the Gallery Place metro station. Pick-pocketing, assaults and drug dealing are common. Some of the crime is committed by young people. Some of it is committed by adults. There was a huge brawl down there involving both teenagers and adults. Last year, two teenagers attempted to mug me just a few blocks from where the mosquito was installed. In July, a 43-year-old man punched me in the face and gave me a black eye. I am not indifferent to this problem. I just don’t think beeps prevent brawls. A lot of Washingtonians disagree. They’re pointing to the fact that there weren’t any brawls while the Mosquito was up as evidence of that.
Let’s take that little logical fallacy for a stroll. Shall we?
In the entire time that Marvin has lived with us, there have been zero brawls. Clearly, Marvin prevents crime. Let’s install Marvin at the Gallery Place metro station.
I opposed the Mosquito not because I support crime. I oppose crime. You should not commit crimes. People who commit crimes should be arrested. We should seek solutions to crime. Folks are arguing that the Mosquito was a potential solution to crime. It’s not. The Mosquito is an insidious, Orwellian noisemaker that has no place in the land of the free. Our country does not control our citizenry with harmful, ultrasonic devices. We are a thoughtful, innovative people. We approach problems with fairness in mind. At least, that’s the country I want to live in.
So if the Mosquito is not the solution, then what is? Those seeking solutions are going to have a hard time because they’re seeking something entirely unrealistic. What they’d like is for the young people (usually referred to as “thugs,” “punks,” or “hooligans”) to stay at home on Friday and Saturday nights, do their chores, or homework or whatever. As long as they don’t in anyway bother me while I’m on my way to the 7:05 showing of “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” starring Shia LeBeouf. The problem with that expectation is that young people hang out. They’re social. Just like adults.
Chinatown is full of things that young people can’t do. You can’t go into the bars if you’re under 21. You can’t sit on the steps of the Portrait Gallery and chat with your friends. You can’t sit on a bench in the Gallery Place Plaza. You can purchase something, but please try to do it quickly and don’t bother the fancy people. If you’re asking me my suggestion, and some folks are (albeit rudely), I’d say let’s give them some place they can go.
And they should have some say in what it looks like. Talk to them. Ask them, “what would you like to be doing right now? We have some money in the budget. Can we build you something? A skate park? Maybe we could put on some free concerts.” Whatever the young people decide they’d like to do let’s help them do it. Even if they want to stand around peacefully in public places. They live here too. A lot of them pay taxes. Let’s let them have some say in how we spend those tax dollars. And we can probably reduce crime if young people have constructive activities as an option. There will still be some criminal youth just like there are some criminal adults (i.e. James W. von Brunn).
Or maybe we should try installing Marvin down there. At least Chinatown will be free of rats.