After getting my hair cut, I was determined to get home and start on this entry. I was stopped as I got into my car by one of my friends heading to a performance in the city center. As I hobbled towards the car door, she yelled across the street, “What do you think about what happened yesterday?” I knew what she was talking about immediately and answered, “I think that it wouldn’t have gotten as much ink if it had been in Mountain Brook.” Imagine the smile on my face when the Birmingham News published a report this morning that said the exact same thing. (Crime danger downtown like Mtn. Brook, officer says, The Birmingham News, 6.2.2006)
There is also a perception that this was a call to arms and an outrageous event. If you visited other newspapers in large cities across the United States, the story did not get reported the same way, nor was the issue of downtown safety as stressed by those reporting it. (Alabama lawyer safe after abduction, Chicago Tribune, 6.1.2006; Nine hour ordeal ends with rescue, The Birmingham News, 6.1.2006) Safety downtown is a major issue; it’s not just limited to those living in the downtown area. As the first story suggests, I’d be surprised if something did not happen “over the mountain” or north of the city. It simply does not get the same coverage in our local media.
When you choose to live in any urban area, you have chosen to also become more aware of your surroundings. If nothing else, Wednesday’s events should remind us to pay attention to what’s happening around us. Without being nosy, people can look out for each other, helping to make an area safer. Anyone that says that it’s unsafe to be downtown, it’s unsafe to be anywhere, but I refuse to stay locked up in my house unable to live and enjoy life. As the summer heats up, there will undoubtedly be more concern as thousands of people venture into the city center for activities ranging from City Stages to Movies by Moonlight to expanded hours and activities at McWane Center. Something like what happened on Wednesday to Ms. Gregory is upsetting and inexcusable on every level. It also reminds us to be more diligent in our awareness and makes us work towards having it happen on a less frequent basis.
Let me know your thoughts,