Yesterday afternoon as we walked home from Curtis Park, we passed a guy on 33rd wearing a red baseball hat cocked to the right. At the same time, a car drove by (and you could kind of say it drove by deliberately, whatever that might mean) and I noticed that the driver was wearing a red baseball hat. (I didn’t see what team was on the hat in either case.) “Hey,” I said to Ben, “what’s up with all these guys wearing red hats?” I hadn’t noticed a proliferation of red-hatted, young-ish, male individuals in our neighborhood before, and I always notice things like that, as a sports fan and as someone who knows something about gangs.
I don’t know if this has anything to do with the rest of the story.
My usual procedure after hearing gunshots while at home (Isn’t it awesome that I have a usual procedure for that?) involves second-guessing myself (especially during the summer, when life is but a game of “gunshots or fireworks” and you’re never sure what you jut heard) and then turning on the police scanner to make sure somebody called the police. Last night around 8:30, the gunshots were close enough and numerous enough for me to jump off the couch, look out the front window to see several people running like hell from the basketball court, and call the fuck out of 911. It’s amazing how wound up I get in this situation and how I’m capable of breathlessly confusing streets that go north/south and streets that go east/west. I overestimated the number of gunshots (Ben, a more reliable narrator, said it was maybe 8 at most). While I was on the phone, we saw the first of the flashing lights coming from the east side.
Soon after this incident, an ambulance sped away from the scene. There were many police cars and the area was taped off for approximately 2.5 hours.
When things like this happen in the hood (Look, can I get over feeling bad about saying we live in “the hood” now? I always feel kind of bad about saying it and then I act like I’m nudge-nudge-wink-winking when I say we live in “the hood,” like yeah we’re from Chicago where you better recognize and it’s The Hood, but fucked if I’m not raising my toddler in a neighborhood where gunshots are spraying over streets I can see from my house and if I want to call this the hood I’m just going to do it and be okay with it) I go through the whole range of emotions. Ben and I had a fun night after we calmed down and Soren went to bed and we talked about how this shit fucking sucks. I’m mad. I’m mad at the assholes shooting guns anywhere but especially here and the fact that the world sucks so much this is what happens to people sometimes and that we don’t have wads of cash we can use to move somewhere this doesn’t happen all the time but won’t kill our edgy urban “we’re way too cool for the suburbs no really” spirit and that so many crimes in Denver go unsolved and apparently it’s unsafe for us to be out in our neighborhood at 8:30 in the evening and that it’s the fucking wild west out here where people act like it’s offensive to pay money for things like schools and the police and I’m powerless to do anything but shake my tiny fist at the raging injustice of the whole situation (Am I?) and I could go on and on but I’m pretty sure you get the point.
Aside from all that, do you want to know what really put my rage in high gear last night? The fact that I can’t find out what the hell happened.
I knew a shooting in the hood wasn’t likely to make the news, but I shuffled around the 10:00 news offerings last night anyway. I saw stories about a guy getting arrested on an airplane, a toddler drowning in Boulder (tragic), something about child abuse, Denver Broncos cheerleaders, and Texas wildfires. Of course there was nothing about a shooting in the hood. I knew this would be the case — I didn’t see any news teams near where the shooting occurred — but my stupid false hopes made me watch.
Today I looked around on the internet and found nothing. I @ed the Denver Police on Twitter (to their credit, they asked me the time and location of the incident I was asking about, and I assume and hope they’ll get back to me eventually).* There was nothing on the news and there is nothing on the internet about the shooting that occurred on April 9, 2011 around 8:30 p.m. in the area of Bruce Randolph and Franklin and/or Gilpin in the Cole neighborhood of Denver.
I know at least Fox 31 knows this neighborhood exists, because they were out here once when a tree landed on a fence during a storm. (To their credit and if I recall correctly, I’m pretty sure Fox 31 was the only outlet to even mention the last shooting that occurred in our neighborhood.)
What the fuck? It’s not just shootings in the hood. I think shootings anywhere in a city should be newsworthy. I’d like to know when shit like this happens in my neighborhood. I mean really, think of how many times this happens and we’re not home or awake and we never know about it. Apparently there was more gunfire around 5 this morning (according to a neighbor, it sounded like a war zone out there) but we slept through it. No one person can be all eyes and ears all the time. We need to have someone to rely on, to keep us informed.
As much as I love having something to rage and bitch about, I’d like to use my anger to do something useful. I’d like to help make this situation better, at least in terms of allowing people to be informed of what’s going on in their neighborhoods. My first idea was to contact local news media and ask why they don’t cover stories like this. But then I realized that they probably don’t give a shit about these stories (if they did, they’d be covering local crimes instead of wildfires in Texas) and maybe this is another indication that traditional news media are fading into oblivion before they die. And that’s fine.
This is the age of DIY. I think it’s up to us — the people — to figure out a way to take control of the information about what’s happening around us in our neighborhoods. There has to be a way for this to happen, whether it’s something sophisticated like a super-local, micro-news show or whether it’s something as simple as a website where people can post about news as it happens. Maybe this already exists and I haven’t found it — I’ll be looking over the next few days. If it doesn’t, we’ll have to figure it out.
Feel free to email me at fanmail at hitbyapitch.com if you want to get involved and/or have ideas. Or if you know what the hell happened in my neighborhood last night.
This is a good rage song:
*The Denver Police did get back to me: “a man was shot two times while driving in the 1600 block of E. Bruce Randolph. Victim is stable.” My thoughts are with the victim and his family. Now I’m wondering whether the shooter is someone from the 1600 block of E. Bruce Randolph.