Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Downtown fights: What do we do?

Posted By on Tue, Sep 24, 2013 at 1:20 PM

The problem is bigger than a few rowdy youth congregating at the Liberty Pole. Ask members of the Red Shirts— retired police officers who patrol downtown — and they’ll tell you how they have to escort some downtown office workers outside because gangs of young people taunt and harass them as they leave their buildings. 

Out-of-control young people also shut down a carnival in Greece, delayed the opening of Seabreeze Amusement Park, and made for a scary and chaotic situation at the Lilac Festival.

Part of me wonders if the Liberty Pole problem will improve once the new transit center, with its own security force, opens. But the area around the Liberty Pole resembles an armed encampment at different times during the day, and a new police substation just opened in the nearby Sibley building. None of that has stopped the Liberty Pole problems.

The curfew we tried was unconstitutional. And anyway, many of these problems are happening during the day. A curfew wouldn’t help that. And though the curfew program tried to hook families up with services, many families rejected the offer.

More recreation centers/activities? Maybe this is part of the solution. But what could you offer to compete with hanging out with your friends on the streets?

Changing the busing system/routes/whatever: Again, maybe there’s something to work with here. But transportation is a huge expense and I can’t see the city school district jumping up and saying, “Oh, sure. We’ll take it from here.”

Parents? OK. Let me know when you figure that one out.

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