July 21, 2010

And So It Goes…

"In less than a 24-hour span, a motorist wearing body armor engaged in a gunbattle with police on [a local freeway] in Oakland, a Virginia man [in Oakland] for a job interview was slain downtown [in plain sight] and a West Oakland sniper fired on police from a high-rise building." — local columnist Chip Johnson in yesterday's SF Chron.

Walking back across the bridge into Oakland this afternoon, seven OPD cars, lights flashing, surround the local 7/11; several customers seem to be walking around outside looking dazed. When I stop across the road to watch, a local acquaintance comments to me that "that store's always hot if you know what I mean…". I do. Down the road, opposite my studio, there's a growing mini-mountain of trash (car parts, dead fridges, couches, etc.) on what passes for a sidewalk attracting the rats and arsonists. We've just let dozens of police officers go in budget cuts; you can no longer call the police to report even serious crimes unless it's an on-going emergency.

Sometimes I wonder if the faux hipsters and nice young things in the lifestyle lofts and instant tenements that went up around The Jingletown Arts District over the past few years quite realise that neighbourhoods can go bad as well as get gentrified.

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