Thursday, October 11, 2007

Taking Some Action on the Conditions of a State Park

In the wake of September's Bicentennial Mall rape of a local resident, I sent the following letter to State House Representative Mary Pruitt (Dist. 58) and State Senator Thelma Harper (Dist. 19) encouraging their response on the issue of park security:
I am a resident of your district and a local writer who keeps a weblog on subjects of interest to North Nashville neighborhoods.

I was troubled to read news of the assault and rape of one of my neighbors on state property during the early morning hours of September 18. The entire incident reportedly lasted two hours at the Bicentennial Mall amphitheater. Even more confusing to me was the news reported in the October 5 Tennessean that the State of Tennessee ends patrols of the Mall before midnight and does not begin them again for seven hours, after the sun comes up.

Some argue that the victim should not have been walking in the Capitol Hill/Bicentennial Mall area at 2:00 a.m. because it is not safe. Do you believe that any part of your district, particularly the land owned by the state itself should be assumed to be unsafe at any time of the day or the night? I would argue that it is totally unacceptable to assume that we should stay completely away from accessible state lands at any time simply out of fear.

The state should be providing an adequate police force, surveillance array and emergency kiosks to prevent these crimes from happening. And in no case should victims of crime that occur on public Tennessee property be re-victimized by claims that they should never have been there in the first place.

So, I am asking you to use your leadership and your influence to make Bicentennial Mall a safe place for its neighbors at all times of the day and night. The state should not be ending patrols in the dark or starting those seven hours later after sunrise. The Metro Police Department should not have sole responsibility for patrolling that area. The State needs to pursue every available option with a reasonable amount of speed to secure Bicentennial Mall at night.

I hope that you will take initiative to see that these things happen. I look forward to your reply, which I will publish on my weblog for the community to see.

Thank you for your service.


Mike Byrd (a.k.a., S-townMike)
I hope that you will take some time to contact your elected officials and prompt them to work harder to mandate safer conditions on Tennessee's public lands.


  1. "Some argue that the victim should not have been walking in the Capitol Hill/Bicentennial Mall area at 2:00 a.m. because it is not safe."

    Regardless if poor judgment landed her in that situation her rights to safety on public land remains unchanged. Anyone who would argue against that should grow a spine.

    Good letter Mike. I’m all about additional police patrol for the Bicentennial area. Hopefully this incident will provoke community members to a greater sense of ownership and vigilance for our neighborhood(S).

  2. Wasn't there a recent uproar when someone suggested that citizens be allowed to carry concealed weapons legally in state parks? I believe I heard something like, "what would you need to defend yourself against in a park?" Maybe it was city parks, not state parks, but either way, it sounds to me like there is plenty out there that needs defending against.

  3. Better yet, why doesn't the state just hire Blackwater Security? They could shoot more innocent bystanders a lot more efficiently than unaffiliated rubes who might end up having their guns taken from them by the thugs who mug them.

    Seriously though, I don't mind the idea of people carrying concealed weapons as long as it's not the ones who act like carrying a gun is some kind of religious dogma or metaphysical entitlement. Oh, and I think that they should be held liable if their gun is taken from them and used in other crimes. That seems fair.

    But this is not a matter of arming park-goers. It's a matter of the state exercising its police patrol responsibilities on behalf of tax payers. It's about protecting Tennesseans.