I returned yesterday morning from a few days out of town to the terrible news about Tyrone Love. After reading the reports here and elsewhere, I decided to take a walk, get some groceries on the Hill, and see what was going on up and down Union.
As I walked back from the store along Union, I was struck by the amount of garbage collecting on our streets. More empty cans of malt liquor, airplane bottles of booze, baggies, and assorted junk than I can remember (Union b/w 23rd and 25th looks downright wrong). Whatever agreement exists with Key Bank doesn’t seem to be working.
At 21st and Union, I saw an assortment of young men doing what they typically do–selling drugs openly up and down Union, particularly between their house (you know the one) and the bodega on 20th and Union. They were taunting passersby and probably not being too welcoming to pedestrians, although I didn’t call the cops on them:-)
After crossing 23rd heading east, I noticed a young man, probably 11-12 years old, holding a sign at 24th and Union. I said, “hey man, what’s your sign say?” and he turned it around to show me. “Car wash”, it read, and I looked over into the driveway to see 3 of his friends scrubbing tires vigorously.
This was quite a moment for me, on this hopeful and sunny afternoon in late winter. Here we had what I am assuming, with only a small amount of doubt, were 6-8 kids whose “vocation” was drug dealing, while just down the block we had the future hanging on by a thread. This young man and his friends, working hard to make a few extra dollars on their vacation, will have a choice to make soon–look just up the road and decide to follow their elders into a dead end future of quick money or take the road we all hope they travel, with education, opportunity, hard work, and success in their future.
As we mourn another person murdered in our community, and we think about what we want this community to look like, let’s remember this young man and his friends and how we can all help them take the right road forward. This community will not always “be that way”, although it will be if we let it be so.