Want To Bet? No One Will Act!

Want To Bet? Those words were the last sentence in Bob Braun of the Star Ledger’s column in this morning’s paper. That question refers to his opinion that nothing will change in Newark, even with the execution style killings of Dashon Harvey, Iofemi Hightower, and Terrence Aeriel. Braun says Newark is “a city neglected by the state for as long as I’ve worked there, and that comes close to 50 years. We build interstate highways around Newark to avoid seeing it and its people. We allow its property taxes to become confiscatory, and then complain about the city’s shabbiness. We allow it’s school to become useless warehouses of children until the state takes over – and then the state itself fails, so now talks of giving up”. In my opinion, Braun hits the nail right on the head. Newark’s problems don’t just consist of violence, but rather it consists of a host of different factors. Violence and crime is the after effect of all the ineffectiveness that takes place from the school system to the economic infrastructure. Newark is a nest egg of inconsistent “criminal” behavior that does not put anyone in jail. The failure to pay a large number our teenagers for the entire month of July and the first week of August is one of those criminal acts that goes unpunished every day in Newark, and we wonder why our children decide to sell drugs for money. Braun agrees, stating “We send our jobs overseas and wonder why so many young men are idle – the unemployment rate among black teenagers is 40 percent, not much better among Hispanic youngster”. And kids like these who have no jobs are the young individuals who were involved in the grotesque acts that occur August 4, 2007.
“We think an arts center and a stadium and a Starbucks represent a Renaissance, when what is really needed are jobs, health care and housing”. Newark, NJ is crying hard and loud and everyone is listening to a different tune. Many will forget the names of these young adults who were slaughtered much like the 160 before them over the past 18 months. We’ll go about our daily chores and meanderings until another 8-year-old is shot, or until another young promising life is stopped short. The New Jersey Devils, a hot latte, and a dance troupe will not ease the suffering of Newark’s poor minority population. Those Saturday night events and sports are simply entertainment to sidetrack the fact that no one really cares. As long as it looks like someone is doing something to make progress, then that’s all that counts. Baltimore has the Orioles and the Ravens; Detroit has the Tigers, Red Wings, Lions, and Pistons, yet these two cities like Newark are still among the most dangerous in the country. Renaissance is French for “rebirth” and is defined as the revival of learning and culture. What has Newark learned over the past forty years since the 67 riots? Where is the rich culture that was once Newark? Where is the Newark that Council President Mildred Crump spoke about on My 9 News’ show “Real Talk”?

That Newark seems to be buried under hardships, unease and broken promises by politicians looking to add more impressive markings to their resume. To police officers who would rather harass than help the citizens that they are supposed to protect. Under a desensitized public who is afraid to stand up for their rights because their street is cascaded with drugs and thugs who care nothing for the quality of human life. People have certain inalienable rights that cannot be taken away and should not be surrendered to mindless hoodlums, or to the government who has sworn to protect them and ensure that their rights are preserved. Martial law and the suspension of civil liberties is not the answer to the problem that plagues Newark. I can understand the sentiment of Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura, but if his intense feelings were allowed to prevail as police policy, then it would cause more harm then good. Racial tension would be at an all-time high, and teens would feel more abandoned then they do now.

Frankly, we need tough action, and for people to stand up like Ghandi, Jesus, Martin, Malcolm, the hippies of the 1960s, the college students of the Vietnam War, William Wallace, and John F. Kennedy who decided to “go-against-the-grain”. To retreat from the common thought of the masses for the benefit of the entire population. Most of these people were killed for their decision to be different or jailed and or doused by hire-pressured fire hoses. Yet, they got their message across and those images still ring true years after they made their mark.

Remember last summer? Do you remember who Brielle Simpkins, Eric Jackson, and Sandra Belush were? That horror was pretty much forgotten by the time Terrence Aeriel, Iofemi Hightower, and Dashon Harvey were killed. How long before those names will be forgotten, too? Lot of huffing and puffing Guys in law enforcement who can’t keep guns from the city want to suspend the Constitution. Grab a headline while the outrage is high. And, worse, lots of talk now about how this particular set of murders – so cold-blooded, happening to good kids- will change things”. Bob Braun and Ameer Washington ask together. Want to bet?

Author: Ken Walker

Husband, Father, Analyst. In a glass case of emotion since 1978.

16 thoughts on “Want To Bet? No One Will Act!”

  1. Any suggestions? What exactly is anyone supposed to do? Who is supposed to set up business in a crazy city like Newark? And why would they give jobs to the kind of people who would execute college students if they did?
    People in Newark have to get their own lives together.
    Or they could keep waiting for a return of a MLK-type figure who will miraculously cure black illegitimacy rates. Their choice. The best thing would probably just be for anyone who gives a damn to get out. Get out of the schools, get out of the city limits, just go anywhere else.
    The government should stop subsidizing people living in horrible low-income urban towers. Set the system up to encourage people to get out of a city that is failed in every possible way.

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  2. Matt, your comments are understood, yet we have to look at the revolving issue. Many people have moved out of Newark, and many more people will. Good people have been leaving for the last 5 years. And the quality of life in Newark has not changed. What happens when all the good people are gone from Newark. Think about it. You’ll have wild west gun slinging that you don’t even want to talk about. The problem is not getting the people who care about Newark and want to make Newark better out, its getting the people who don’t care about Newark, and about making their lives better out. You ask, what are people supposed to do. They are supposed to speak up when they see crime. Help children who they see who do not have the right guidance or proper care. Even a sentence can work with a kid. I’m not saying we can change everyone, or that every kid’ll listen, but people just don’t care. They’ll rather turn their heads and look the other way. People have been looking the other way for too long. The so called “code of the street” has ruled ghettos like Newark for too long. Human beings have been believing these principals that “you don’t snitch, you tell the cops nothing, you’re a punk if you get robbed, etc”. If the government stops subsidizing people to live, then they’ll be out on the streets adding to theft, the drug trade, perhaps murder to get life’s necessities. Hopefully we do get a new Martin Luther King, but why can’t everyone try to do a small part. Let’s stop saving the kids who don’t want to do the wrong thing and start saving the kids who don’t want to do the right thing, that’s where we need to focus just as much of our energy. It’s a hard road, and everyone can’t tred it, and if you feel drained and disheartened then by all mens turn the blind eye. But if you have an inkling of anger, or hurt, of guilt, and you want to do something. Start by wearing a T-Shirt that says stop the killings. Stand out and protest. Be a positive role model for youth in your community. Show them that there is a different way to live their lives. The teen generation of today will shape the future for the kids that 20 something year olds like myself will have in a year or so. And if 50% are gangstas then you can expect nothing as we have today.

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  3. Believe it or not things will get better. How and why? Because Newark is only a stone throw away from NYC. Jersey City and Hoboken do not have the raw space that Newark has.
    For example while in Harlem visiting my brother I went to an open house. The asking price for a one big room $3,000. And it wasn’t even a safe block.
    Newark is ripe for a new direction. Within the next 10 years or your going to see a population shift because most of the current resident are going to be price and out and replace with people who earn a hell of lot more, but not enough to afford NYC and the five bores.

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  4. You may some very good points. But most of the middle class and working class people in the Forest Hill, Clinton Hill (the side streets), Ironbound, Weeqhauia (hope I spelled that right) and Valisburg who are home owners will be fine.
    The folks who will be push out of Newark are the ones who never had the foresight to invest into the city.
    Where are the going to go? Way out in deep deep PA

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  5. Drive the working & middle classes out of a city & the city is all but dead. Look at Camden. That’s what makes Ivy Hill so important, & the murders there especially significant. If you live in one part of the city, there must be other parts of the city you can aspire to move to. & I don’t mean luxury condos near the train station. A city must have reasonably safe havens, where there are streets you can walk in the evening, & well-maintained single family homes. A city builds on these kinds of neighborhoods as much as on a big downtown miles away from them. A city has to treat them almost as separate entities to be protected & nurtured. It’s a challenge to do it without neglecting other parts of the city. But it has to done.

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  6. You will never have a safe neighborhood without male authority figures. That’s why anyone in Newark with hope for their future or their kids futures should just get out and live somewhere better.
    Newark’s population has fallen, and it has rightly fallen. Let’s go out on a wild limb and assume that the ghetto population will never get their problems straightened out. In order for things to change, the growth in Newark’s healthy neighborhoods (Ironbound, wherever relocated New Yorkers may move to) needs to increase while the number of residents in the horrible neighborhoods keeps falling. When the balance of voting power gets to a point where someone like Mayor Booker can bank on being re-elected for his efforts to clean up the city, then Newark has a chance.
    So for the sake of the long-term health of Newark, keep that population dropping.
    New York City didn’t improve in the nineties because the ghettos righted themselves. It improved because Giuliani cracked down on crime, which encouraged businesses and non-ghetto residents to set up shop in the city. These new residents demand neighborhood safety, and the virtuous cycle feeds on itself.

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  7. FYI: Unlike most of North Jersey, Newark’s population has increased since the 2000 Census. Also, while 9/11 certainly helped canonize Giuliani, he played a very small role in the lowering of crime. The work of his predecessors, particularly in attracting major corporations to invest in midtown, played a bigger role. Aside from his courage in 9/11, he’ll be remembered as someone who trampled rights, particularly of artists and the like, during his tenure. Much of Booker’s effort has been on luring businesses to Newark. Let’s see how effective his strategy is.

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  8. Saint,
    Whatever you think of Giuliani, don’t downplay what he did for the city. Your example doesn’t even make sense. Let’s assume that Dinkins did attract major corporations. That doesn’t mean he had anything to do with the crime drop.
    Giuliani cleaned up Times Square of all the slime through the force of his will more or less. If you think Times Square was going to be as nice as it is whether or not he did that you’re quite wrong.
    If you think that anyone’s going to remember or care that he supposedly trampled artists’ rights, you’re even more mistaken. Nobody cares about artists. What rights are you talking about anyway?

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  9. Disclaimer: though I live in los angeles now, I moved here from Newark, where I lived for 5 years, and I feel very connected to the city.
    I’ll admit that I find most of the comments on this thread openly racist and completely out of touch with the real world.
    Now that i’ve got your attention (and your hate), the commentors’ talk about how it’ll be ok because residents will be priced out and have to move out of the city, the talk about how those who didn’t have the foresight to invest in Newark are going to be pushed out, etc. That’s code word for Let’s get the poor black people out of the city, and make it “better”.
    Other comment sentiments — There’s business to be made in Newark, and why should we care about the people who actually reside there. It’s their responsibility to find a way to make things work, and they haven’t (the personal responsibility argument) so, well, there’s good land there and it’s our turn to “develop” it.
    good going, guys. ameer washington and bob braun talk about the issues and what really needs to be done, and these are the replies they get?
    On a related note, thanks ameer washington and bob braun. we need more people talking about how a latte, a dance troupe, and a stadium will not make real change for the people of newark.

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  10. Los Anjalis,
    I don’t really care if you think I’m a racist, although I know I’m not the only one you’re addressing.
    I’m white, but I take no pleasure in seeing Newark be a dump just because it’s majority black. I live 15 minutes from Newark and wish it was a place I could bring my family. That doesn’t mean it has to get whiter, and it doesn’t even necessarily mean it has to get richer, but it does have to become less scary, and if you think I’m racist for thinking Newark is scary, I still don’t care.
    It’s been 40 years since the riots, and Newark has accomplished remarkably little positive in that time, even as we’ve had 25 straight years of a great national economy. So yes, if I was going to bet on a Newark turnaround, it would not be because the ghettos improved themselves.
    Cory Booker is the best thing to happen to Newark in who-knows-how-long and Newark residents are wary of him because he attended good schools that had white people? That just about says it all.

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  11. I agree with Los Anjalis. I think a lot of the cats on this thread are openly racist. That’s fine. I’ve encountered racist people everywhere I’ve been, from Newark to Oxford, and its a balance positive when they are easy to detect.
    Yuppies will bring money to Newark and if an environment can be created there where yuppies and ‘thugs’ can co-exist, learn from each other, partake in each other’s culture, then it could mean tremendously positive things for urban areas in America as a whole.
    I think this is possible future, but we have to try to improve the stakes of those “ghetto” people in Newark who many would like to write off. Newark NJ has always been at the forefront of trends in American cities. Writing off the ‘ghetto-born’ is not a trend I’d like to advocate. If you want to confront someone or go after someone, pick Anderson Cooper, who chose to use Cam’ron as a representative of the hip hop culture to present to white America on 60 Minutes. Cam’ron makes tons of dough and if he had any balls he wouldn’t be so scared to snitch. Cooper went to Yale and should know better than to speak about things he knows nothing about.
    I’ve never lived in Newark. I grew up in a different lower-class urban area in north Jersey and live in Brooklyn today. I campaigned for Booker in the East Ward and traveled there this weekend to do some consulting work with a group of artists on what might be a watershed event in anti-crime efforts for North American cities. Things will get better in Newark. Crime and murder will be reduced and it won’t be by the same oppressive methods by which as Guilliani accomplished it in New York.
    I think those in Newark who complain that nothing will be done and poke fun at artists or those who sip lattes should actually try to make some effort to improve things in Newark rather than just criticizing. These claims that “nothing will be done” made by those who live in Newark or 15 minutes away seem foolish to me. I live about an hour away and I can say with confidence that something is being done to reduce crime in Newark and I’m actually very happy to travel an hour to get there and to lend a hand. Though, I haven’t bought a t-shirt yet.

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  12. Look when I talk about Newark I’m not talking race. I’m talking people reaching for their full potential. Most people, who happen to poor, need to become educated on the value of owning property. Many could have brought a home for next to nothing. A friend of mine bought a lot from the city for $1.
    If more people own where they live things would not be as bad because they would have a vested interest.
    And yes Newark does need NJPAC, and all the other things that have been place downtown. Those place creates jobs that could the first rung up the ladder to something better.
    When people rent they have no vested interest. That’s the point I’m trying to make. You can always improve yourself. In fact if your not striving to do better, you will be lelf behind.

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  13. Why would yuppies want to partake in “thug” culture and learn anything from it?
    How many years would you try and turn around Newark by hoping the current residents improve their own lives? Another 10? Another 25? Another 40? The residents of the ghettos will have more opportunities to improve themselves if a Newark renaissance that focuses on new residents moving in happens.
    Everyone here has probably read the stats. New Jersey spends $13K per student on education, 2nd highest in the country. Newark gets $20K per student, and the schools never improve. Let’s just face facts, the Newark renaissance will not be driven by internal improvement. It would be a wonderful story if it happened, but come on.
    If Booker manages to turn Newark around, no matter how he does it, he could be one of the most important men of the 21st century.
    Newark needs to encourage development of the area around the new Prudential Center. People should be able to get off a train and stop at a couple restaurants and bars before a game or a concert. Get people used to spending a little time and money in Newark and they might just get into the habit of it.

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  14. Response to Matt C’s: People should be able to get off a train and stop at a couple restaurants and bars before a game or a concert.
    They will definitely be able to do that: A place called Mesa Restaurante opened up on Edison Place, right across the alley from Prudential Center about a couple of months ago. It’s a smart move on the part of the owners — right next to a parking lot and virtually up against the new complex.
    Check out the Web site at: http://www.mesarestaurante.com/
    Maybe you all should get together at Mesa and work this out over some whiskey, not lattes. 😉

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  15. I grew up in Newark in Stella Wright Homes, corner of Prince and Spruce St. I jad a good childhood there.I would like everyone to know that Newark had great programs for children then and why did the money for the summer programs stop? kids need structure and guidence, then need a grown up that they can look up to. I used to go to the lake everyday and on Sat. I used to go to a school called Newark acadamy to sim in the pool or play basketball. I miss those days, it hurts to hear how my home town has decayed and how people are dying on the same streets that I used to play on, when Mayor Gibson came alone I thought that better days where ahead.Heres something to think about, when crime starts in city hall the rest of the city suffers and even before Gibson city hall was crooked,thats why people voted for him. with that said, lets get good paying jobs in the city, lets get the kids summer jobs like they used to have, lets control ourselves like we where taught to by our parents and our churches. Lets not be dependant on the govt. for income because this is the same govt. that had endorsed slavery and segragation. We as people not just black people but people deserve better than what they have been giving us, we need to see clearly and relize that we must help each other and do for each other because govt. is doing business as usual and we arent part of it.

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