Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Salemtown President Fires Back at Tennessean

I'm not the only one who took exception to Tennessean reporter Janell Ross's hackneyed piece on crime and race in the North End:

Janel Ross's article in today's Tennessean seemed designed to stoke rather than to explain or resolve racial tensions in Nashville's North End. I'm especially concerned that there was only one voice expressed from our neighborhood, Salemtown, seemingly for creating a tense effect. Worse, not a single officer or member of our neighborhood association was approached for comment.

My long-time girlfriend matriculated at Meharry Medical College last year, so we decided to move into a neighborhood near the school to be active participants in the community. But my reasons for moving here shouldn't matter. No matter where I am, I hope to have a strong community.

Councilwoman Erica Gilmore convened a community meeting near the start of the year at the Morgan Park Community Center at which she expressed a need for communities that had long accepted criminal activity as a way of life to break a "code of silence." I can assure you she was not encouraging white folk to call the cops on black folk. Crime in urban communities is not a problem that should be ignored. Neither, for that matter, is poverty.

Working together, our neighborhood association is actively trying to combat long-standing tensions and address issues of trust. I wouldn't characterize any of my neighbors as suffering from "racial fear." Our membership is diverse, and our hope and intentions are to keep it and our neighborhood that way.

Freddie O'Connell
President, Salemtown Neighbors Neighborhood Association
The Tennessean owes Salemtown an apology for some truly checkered journalism. Or maybe Janell Ross has some bright ideas based on her own diverse neighborhood experience (does she live in a neighborhood like Salemtown?) on when it is appropriate to call police. The same police who have told us to trust our guts. The same police who rely on volume of calls to decide which neighborhoods get more attention.

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