Thursday, June 05, 2008

Last Week on Silver Avenue....

(Actually, lately what happened last week has been atypical of Glenwood in recent months, but it goes to show you that it’s still not just any ol’ neighborhood.)

On Tuesday morning, the kids and I were driving back from getting groceries at Aldi and we saw at least six police cars parked on the street near our house, lights flashing. I wasn’t sure what was going on and I had milk and yogurt with me, so I just got the kids out, took them in, and proceeded to get the groceries into the house. On my last trip, one of my neighbors from across the street came and told me that someone had just been shot in one of the apartments in the house that he lived in. Soon there were eight police cars, over 20 officers, and even swat team members with semi-automatic rifles out on our street. (Note: It’s never fun to call your wife and say, “Honey, when you come home, our street may still be blocked off by police cars, but everything is fine with us. Someone just got shot, that’s all.") Honestly, it seemed like the police response was a little excessive, but it was what it was. The man who was shot was shot through the side and was actually out of the hospital and walking around later that afternoon. When I saw a report of the incident online later that morning, it turns out that the shooter was a local drug dealer who I had recently tried to speak to and learn his name while walking up from the park. He was caught the next day.

Later, I learned that the shooter was also a suspect in a mugging on Monday night at the convenience store near the park. Four men jumped one guy and took the money from his wallet at about 11:00 at night. Case in point as to why I don’t go in that store after dark.

Then, on Friday I was dog-sitting for some neighbors and taking their dog for a walk before Diane and I were to go to a concert. As I stepped into their yard I heard, “Help! Help me! Please, somebody help!” I recognized the voice, it was a landlord friend of mine, and I took off running towards him. When I got to where I could see him, he and another man was on the ground and it appeared as though my friend B were helping the other man, who maybe was having a heart attack (I also saw several cars drive right past the scene without stopping, although I think one did call the police). As I got closer, B was actually wrestling with the other man, trying to hold him down, and he urged me to call the cops. I knew the man he was wrestling with – he used to be around our church a good bit, and we had tried to help him with housing and recovery. I urged him to calm down, and was wondering how/if I should jump into the scuffle. I think my presence sort of stunned him and everything sort of calmed down. Just as I dialed 9-1-1, a squad car pulled up and separated the two men. Apparently B heard a noise in one of his properties and saw this man breaking in (this is at 5:30 pm). The man began to walk away, and B followed him at a distance, calling the police. Eventually the man got tired of being followed and pulled a hammer out of his bag and attacked B (this is B’s version of the story, to be fair), and B began to wrestle and hold him down. There was a hammer lying in the road, and the man did not dispute that he had attacked B (though he said B also attacked him).

As I sat by B, he began to rant that Greensboro Urban Ministries and my church, Grace Community, were to blame for incidents like this and for many of his properties being broken into. People were stealing the copper wiring and pipes from his houses, which costs thousands to replace and had almost sunk him financially. He said that GUM and Grace, by helping the poor and the homeless, were enabling them and ruining Glenwood.

After giving my information to the office in case they needed a statement from me, I went back to the car, where Diane was waiting, oblivious as to why I had been gone so long, and off we went to the concert. Before the concert I had another conversation with B, which I will talk about in another post, as this one is getting long.

After months of quiet on Silver and in Glenwood, that week was an aberration. Was it because it had turned hot the past couple of days? Was it a reflection of the increasing financial strain that is coming on all people, especially the poor? Was it just coincidence? In any case, it reminded met that there is still much to be done in Glenwood.

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