Monday, June 07, 2010

The Best Of The Drifts - The Eagle Raid

Originally published September 14, 2009

Why The Eagle Raid Matters

It should matter because our Founders graced us with the Fourth Amendment.

It should matter because it exemplifies the ongoing struggle in Midtown between neighborhoods and businesses they deem unacceptable.

It should matter because the public perceives crime as out of control, yet, 8 people sat in jail for what amounted to dancing in their drawers.

But it really matters because it is yet another case of Atlanta picking at its own scab of uncertainty and disillusionment in troubled times.

Today, the FBI released crime statistics which seem to support Police Chief Richard Pennington's stance that crime is down in the city. Yet, these facts do not allay the fears of people living East Atlanta, Downtown and Southwest. Jim Walls continued investigation on the crime numbers lends credence to that worry. Although, crime may be down citywide, pockets of violence and burglary are on the rise and the stunning murder of The Standard's John Henderson, an assault on a Ormewood Park man cutting his grass and the string of shootings and robberies around the campuses of Clark-Atlanta University and Georgia Tech leave Atlantans shaking their head at the cold numbers the powers-that-be wave at the cameras.

If Atlanta is in trouble, like so many things with this transitional city, it is difficult to grasp exactly why. Unlike a Detroit, we do not have a housing market which reflects the third world and an inner core which rots before our very eyes.

Instead we have a myriad of problems which combine to make the greater less tenable.

Our police force is undersized and underfunded. Our guardian of truth, the flagship newspaper, is struggling to survive and its cracks caused by cuts are starting to show (note how many times a crime story appears with the same byline). Our public transit routinely begs to any public agency who will listen. Our public hospital, once again, had to walk hat in hand to the Fulton County Commission to plead for a few more months survival.

In times where the citizens are scared and no longer trust their government to provide protection, the last thing our beleaguered police force needs is tasks such as rousting a few gay men for flaunting their tighty whiteys behind closed doors.

The Eagle raid matters because it is as highly ideal as the U.S. Constitution and it is as personal as the people who suffered from imprisonment, but it's also about the character of this city - so famous for rising from its ashes. We are the city too busy too hate, the door to the world, welcome to all and embracing of all. Except last Thursday night when we were not. And it is these missteps which cannot, must not, happen again. For each one takes us back, closer to the ashes and the foul taste they will leave in every mouth.

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