L in the Southeast

L in the Southeast
Atlanta, Georgia, United States
November 04
Retired PR Director
I am a retired Public Relations professional who now writes purely for fun and catharsis. I covered most of my memoir-type pieces in the first three years here. Lately I have dabbled in politics, current affairs, pop culture and movie reviews. Life is my muse.


L in the Southeast's Links

APRIL 11, 2012 9:29AM

Stranger Danger and Secrecy

Rate: 24 Flag


Two days ago my post showcased the abundance of diversity and inclusion in my trendy Atlanta community.  It is a struggle to imagine any place in America that offers a bigger welcome to people of every description, income, and sexual orientation.

But there is a downside.  It is a city neighborhood, with all the challenges of living in the shadow of downtown Atlanta’s towering office buildings that create its endlessly photographed skyline.  There is a main drag – a through street that connects the confluence of I-75 and I-85, two miles to the west, with a major station on the Metropolitan Area Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA).  It also connects us to the gang and drug traffic that takes over the daytime quiet of surrounding neighborhoods and turns our oak-canopied streets into a dangerous place to walk at night.

On April 1, 2012 an unidentified woman walked alone toward a friend’s house that is exactly one block from my own address.  It was 3:30 a.m. 

We all remember at least one of our elder relatives telling us “nothing good happens in the wee hours of the morning.”  Some of you reading this will immediately conclude that whatever happened to this clueless woman was brought on by herself.  Why, you ask, would any woman be out alone at that time of the night?  I wouldn't be one of those asking that question.

The police are being extremely cagey about the facts of this case; in fact, we neighbors were left completely uninformed until yesterday, April 10, 2012, when a local TV station Rape coverage announced a major investigative “event” on the corner where the dog groomer’s shop with its huge stainless steel water bowl on the sidewalk for passing dogs to slake their walk-induced thirst is stationed.  My dog and I pass that corner every day on our own walks.

The female owner of the popular restaurant on the opposite corner was clearly livid when she sent out an email to the neighborhood Yahoo Group asking exactly when she and her female employees who work until 2 a.m. were going to be notified of a still at-large rapist in the area.  The woman had been grabbed and raped by a dread-locked man of only 5’ 6” less than 50 yards from the restaurant’s outdoor front patio.  This email message was transmitted around 3:52 p.m. Tuesday. 

At 4:30 p.m. another message hit the inbox.  A neighbor who had been working on her back porch was suddenly startled by a small man leaping her fence to the sound of “Stop.  Police.”  She ran into her house, set the alarm and called 911.  Five minutes later two of the police who were staked out on the corner near the scene of the crime rode into her yard – on horseback!  They told her the police had a suspect in the rape surrounded, but he managed to escape through the maze of back yards and tall trees. Atlanta mounted police

When my dog and I took our walk at 5:30 p.m., the corner in question was alive with police officers passing out flyers, curious neighbors gazing at the horses now back in their transport vehicle and my friend Glenda pulling her two towheaded granddaughters in a little red wagon.  It looked more like a Saturday during our popular annual street festival than it did a crime investigation.

By the time I returned from the walk, our Public Safety chairman had broken through the secrecy at the Atlanta Police Department and learned that neither the woman victim nor the rapist were residents of our neighborhood – almost as if that information would set our minds at ease to some extent.  They also revealed that the suspect was called Derrick.

No more information was forthcoming, in order to “avoid compromising the investigation.”

Great.  In the meantime cars are broken into nearly every night.  People walking down the street in broad daylight are sometimes assaulted by thugs looking to steal their smartphones.  Job-seekers and/or writers who work on their laptops outside the local coffee shop that offers free wi-fi have had their computers snatched right under their flying fingertips.  And the budgets for all sources of public safety continue to be slashed.

The bad guys appear to be winning.

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Terrific post.

What I found when I lived in Toco Hills is that Atl is fifferent from northern cities in that its downtown seems almost exclusively commercial, whereas in the northeast, my home...cities from DC and north...downtown is abt equally redidential ans commercial. I never got comfy w the difference.

Jon: Yes, that is a problem the Chamber of Commerce has wrestled with for decades. I think the problem is Atlanta has another "downtown" located in Buckhead, where all the night clubs are located. Of course, the residents there complain.
I once owned a town house in Moorpark, CA... one of the "safest" cities in the USA with only one murder in 20 years... a neighbor, out for her morning jog, was stabbed six times in broad daylight and her husband found her body on the front step of their home 200 feet from my front door. With no witnesses and no conclusive evidence, her murderer was never found...
Interesting post. No one can be completely comfortable and police everywhere seem to be on different wave lengths of how to solve, handle and locate criminals. I am thinking of Trayvon.
Oh I hope not L. Stay safe and lock your doors.
jmac: I lived in a similar, pristine town in northern CA -- Moraga. Lowest crime rate in the entire Bay Area. A cheerleader got jealous of a classmate, lured her out of her house and stabbed her to death. No one is totally safe.

Sheila: At the moment, no one seems to know where George Zimmerman is!

tg within: I'm from Chicago, tg, so I am naturally cautious. :D

I understand your frustration with the situation, but sometimes there are things that the police cannot reveal in order to maintain the integrity of the investigation.

Fortunately you, your neighbors, and the other individuals in your community seem to be very involved. I hope the case is resolved soon.
Diary: I do understand. It's just a bit unnerving. Thanks.
Excellent post. Now where do I sign up for kick boxing and self defense??
The bad guys have always appeared to be winning, and it scares the hell out of me. Great post, L/r
Asia: When the cop on the corner told me the rapist was 5'5" tall I told him I would have kicked his ass unless he had a gun or a knife on me. He cracked up! :D
Christine: It is getting much worse than it once was. There just aren't enough officers (and the ones we have can be a bit sketchy, if you know what I mean.)
I'm glad you have a dog and hope he's big and has a loud bark. There are never going to be enough police officers.
jlsathre: lol My dog, a bichon frise, weighs 18 pounds, loves everybody and has no innate need to protect me. She's just a sweet little powder puff with not an aggressive bone in her body.
There was a story here about a guy who, on a 9-hour bus layover in Nashville a couple of weeks ago, managed to commit a string of about a dozen felonies, all within five miles of my house. People were hurt and property was damaged. The police finally managed to catch him, but one wonders how this could have gone on for so long.

Then I recall seeing pictures of several dozen police officers, dressed to the hilt in riot gear, lined up to arrest a handful of scraggly OWS protestors on the TN State Capitol grounds in the middle of the night, and I wonder where law enforcement's priorities are.
In LA and other inner cities the gangs kill, rape and plunder everyday. The most sinister thing of all is this. The authorities know the bad guys, they know where they live, but they don't arrest them. The reason is always: "It's the law, we cannot just go around arresting people." We have so many laws against domestic terrorism. All we need to do is add rape and murder of civilians to the definition of terrorism. Excellent Post, L. R
Jeanette: It is really hard not to be cynical about the police sometimes. I guess we expect too much.

Thoth: I suspect the problem extends into the court system, which is overburdened and has lost its relevance, IMHO. All the deck-stacking that goes on in jury selection, etc. just makes things take longer with little effect.
"The bad guys appear to be winning." I couldn't agree more.
Communities around the country are laying off police, teachers, court workers, janitors, all needful position because of the policies of George Bush. Clinton hired 10,000 police officers. Bush signed "No Child Left Behind" and didn't even fund it. I think Obama, slowly (too slowly?) is on the right track. We have to have these teachers back, everything starts and stops with them. Parents are not parenting and this leaves the teachers having to teach their children manners and by then, it's too late. Great Post L.
So many things going through my mind reading this. This country is in a serious need of a make over. We need to overhaul our education system, create jobs, re-build community, face the evils and results of racism, sexism and materialism...I could go on for days. But mostly I was thinking about you and your sweet dog. Take care of yourselves.
If that short guy finds you, particularly if he hurts you, Atlanta may be treated to something never before seen anywhere: an OS-based lunch mob.
PatienceP: :(

Scanner: It is going to take some brave and possibly unpopular steps to turn this mess around. Let's all pray that Obama gets his second term and that he grows a bigger pair.

Mime: Thanks. I refuse to allow these punks to turn me into a prisoner in my own house. I am very careful.

Kosh: LOL! A lunch mob???? Or did you mean lynch mob? Either way, that is so sweet!
Those angry OS-based lunch mobs, kosher ~ you gotta watch out for those ;-)
Good to see horses are still part of the force, L. In the absence of CCTV cameras at least the policeman has a wider view of a crowd ; a bit confusing in this case, though.
ps. I guess I haven't been here for awhile ~ love the Spring banner !
Kim: You haven't been here for a while and I am really glad to see you. Thanks.
I was typing on a cell phone. U is next to Y.
Lynch mob
Derrick may be the icon for a lot going wrong, without a lot of right action going on in Atlanta.
Be safe please.
Someone told me recently she was walking her little dog and heard some lurking man say, "Not her, she's got a dog." Even the little puffballs can make a terrible noise the bad guys can't predict. (And a Bitchin Frizzy - awwww.)

Overburdened courts, overburdened cops - it's all apart of the class warfare, isn't it? I just heard Palin on TV talking about "redistributing that income" - YEAAHH - redistribute some of it to cops & courts, please. Not to mention that at least some of the thugs that are out thugging might be deterred by a decent job and some self-respect. Violent crime rates are still down most places, I think. Not that I expect that to give you any comfort.

And, as always, what kosh said. I'm totally in for a lunch mob, might even go to Atlanta for that.
Stay safe, Lezlie. I completely agree with Mime's comment. Wishing peace to Atlanta and especially your neighborhood tonight.
The bad guys will win if all the good guys throw up their hands and quit.
Almost makes you wish for a vigilante. Brilliantly written post.
Hmmmm...Atlanta, eh? Sounds a little too exciting for my 'small city' taste! I'm moving to florida this month, and - i've spent some time thinking about the crime and guns, trust me! Where i come from - if there are 15 murders in a year - it's a lot - and rape (reported, anyway) is very, very low! We pride ourselves on having more cars stolen per minute than anywhere else in canada...lol..that's how beautifully boring it is here. I usually have 3, or 4 US news stations going at any given time - and i find it most terrifying when a child goes missing - and they show how many registered sex offenders live within - say - a 6 block radius. IT'S HUNDREDS, every time! And..those are just the registered ones..