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Be honest about downtown

As a born and raised Rochesterian who has spent countless hours exploring the backstreets of nearly every neighborhood, there are some real problems with the argument that downtown crime is a myth (Urban Journal, August 24 and 31).

You failed to provide parameters to begin with, which greatly hurts your argument. You'll find that a lot of people from the suburbs couldn't point out downtown on a map, and think that it ranges anywhere from Park Avenue to the west side.

You cite three events as proof of a lively, safe culture — two of which take place in the same area (Fringe and Jazz fests), and one takes place less than a quarter-mile away (annual fireworks display). In that regard, you're not referring to downtown as a whole being safe, but to the East Avenue neighborhood being safe.

The trend continues in the activities that you ask people to engage in when visiting downtown, such as going to the movies, bars, and restaurants. The Little is the only downtown theater, and that's on East Avenue. And the bars and restaurants are primarily found on the East Ave strip, unless you head north on St. Paul or Clinton, but I don't believe that you're referring to those restaurants and bars, and it's still questionable whether those are truly "downtown."

This may seem like a petty argument, but it really isn't. Correlating one neighborhood, which has gone through an incredible amount of gentrification, as a representative segment of an entire area of the city is at best faulty and at worst, willfully, problematically ignorant. It's akin to saying that Clinton Avenue is safe because of the South Wedge.

The reason I say this is not to deter people from exploring Rochester; it's a great, wild, weird, and beautiful city that I implore everyone to explore as much as possible. But it has problems, and those problems include the downtown area.

For example, I had a wonderful time watching the fireworks from the steps of the former Manhattan Square Park; I've also seen a man left unconscious in a pool of his own blood after being punched in the mouth at 3 in the afternoon in the same place. I've seen some great street performers busking on East Main, and I also had a man try to push me into traffic because I didn't have any money to give him on the same block.

I love walking through Washington Square Park, or skating a bit. I've also, on more than one occasion, found a used syringe embedded in the sole of my boots after doing so. I like biking down to Corn Hill on a crisp autumn day, and I've been offered heroin or crack more times than I can count — the dealers sometimes even blocking my path to do so.

Point being, Rochester is a great city, and downtown is no exception. But denying the crime, denying some of our faults and dilemmas, is not a way to fix them; it's willful ignorance, and promotion of willful ignorance to call crime a myth. We have a drug problem, we have a violence problem, and downtown is not an exception to that rule. There is danger, and people should know that.

CITY has a duty as a community paper, as a journalistic outlet, to balance the good with the bad. Crime in downtown is not a myth, and stating that is pretty irresponsible to your readers.

Granted, I haven't bothered doing any statistical work here, so my journalistic integrity isn't much better; I'm speaking solely from experience. Enjoy downtown, but we need to keep working to fix it.


Better questions for Clinton and Trump

At a recent NBC Town Hall, presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were questioned on their qualifications to be commander in chief. Taking place aboard an aircraft carrier with an audience of service members, the lame questioning gave the candidates a perfect forum to talk tough on defense and national security while whitewashing their past "mistakes." But there were no new insights into their qualifications.

Much better would have been specific questions forcing them to defend their support for current US military interventions around the globe, often perpetrated in violation of international law.

Questions such as these:

For Trump: How would you justify your proposed continuation of illegal US torture and indefinite detention at Guantanamo base and elsewhere?

For Clinton: Would you continue the illegal US push for regime change in Syria, including your proposed, potentially catastrophic "no fly zone" there?

For both: Would you continue to provide US logistics and arms to Saudi Arabia for its illegal aggression in Yemen and its funding of militants in Syria?

For both: Would you continue US arms sales to Israel in support of its illegal occupation and annexation of Palestine?

For both: Would you continue the illegal presidential program of "targeted killing" with Air Force and CIA drones, causing thousands of civilian casualties?

For both: Would you continue this administration's rapid expansion of the US nuclear arsenal, in clear violation of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty?

Finally, for Clinton: Will you continue to rely for advice on Henry Kissinger, secret perpetrator of the illegal Vietnam-era bombing of Laos just recently deplored by Obama?


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