Monday, July 30, 2007

Atlanta Is Freakin' Dangerous, Y'all 

Anybody who has spent any time with FAB in the last three years has probably heard about how oddly dangerous we found life in Atlanta to be. While we spent nearly our entire life in the NY metro area, we'd never been the victim of a physical crime here*, nor had anyone we known save for someone's sister who was mugged after midnight in Riverside Park. However, in just three years of living in the A, we knew of at least 4 people who had been robbed at either gun- or knife-point in ostensibly non-sketchy areas, had our car broken into in OUR OWN DRIVEWAY, had our car totaled by a hit-and-run probably drunk-off-their-gourd-driver, heard about a neighborhood bartender being shot to death in a mugging across the street from our office, and now Deerhunter's Bradford Cox was robbed at gunpoint on one of the sidestreets by Lenny's, a venue we frequented one to two times a week. In a rare display of caution, the one time FAB was forced to park on one of these dimly lit sidestreets outside Lenny's, we actually had a guy walk us back to our car. We'd like to pretend we were doing this for our safety, but in reality, we were just trying to score some drugs from him and figured we'd kill two birds with one stone by asking him to walk us to our car. Bradford posted the following bulletin on his MySpace account over the weekend:
We got a friendly homecoming suprise last night in Atlanta when Lockett and I got robbed at gunpoint after our show at Lenny's last night. We literally had just walked off the stage and I was pretty wasted. Lockett was trying to take care of me and get me home. He grabbed my guitar and my stuff and we walked to his car which was parked about a block away from Lenny's because it was so crowded. I heard a commotion behind us but like I said I was pretty out of it. I just opened the door to the car and collapsed in the passenger seat. Then I heard all this yelling and I hear this loud metallic banging on the window and look up and there is a gun in my face and a guy yelling "get the fuck out the car man" I stumbled out and see the other guy has Lockett with his arms spread on the roof of his car and is patting him down. Lockett was begging them to leave me alone. The guy put his gun up to my temple and said "give me EVERYTHING motherfucker I aint fucking with you" I just mumbled something and he put his hands in my pants and took everything I had. My cellphone, my wallet (empty except for credit / bank cards which kristin immidietly cancelled, and about 450 dollars in cash I had for my rent.) They also got all of Lockett's money. They even took my fucking Camel Ultralights and Orange Bic. All I can say is that I'm glad we are not dead. Or more specifically, I am REALLY glad they didn't hurt Lockett. He was just trying to help me get home and would not have even been there at that time otherwise.

Apparently the APD is too busy harassing the wheelchair-bound and shooting up old ladies to give two shits about petty violent crime or hit-and-run drunk drivers**.

*FAB actually experienced her first near-mugging last month when walking back to FABBro's house in Brooklyn at 3:30 in the morning. Some guy walked up behind FAB and growled, "Hey lady, give me your purse!" several times before it dawned on FAB that dude was maybe talking to us and probably wasn't joking - as we'd initially assumed, given the absurdity of the situation - since we didn't think we knew him and it really wasn't very funny anyway. We weren't quite sure what to do since it seemed like a pretty odd way to try and rob someone and furthermore our keys, wallet, toothbrush, cell phone, clean undies, and other assorted necessities were in the much-beloved Marc Jacobs Stella bag the Would-Be Mugger was referring to, so we opted to treat this situation like any other when an unknown person talks to us on the street or bar: Ignore Ignore Ignore. After all, if we were deaf, we wouldn't have even known someone was trying to rob us in the first place. Eventually, we passed a bodega and dude gave up and went inside. FAB wonders whether this experience prematurely ended the Would-Be Mugger's presumably lackluster mugging career due to the shame of being thwarted by the silent treatment.

**Which prompted us to send the following curmudgeonly letter to Mayor Shirley Franklin:

Dear Mayor Franklin:

As the victim of two crimes within Atlanta city limits within a period of about six months, I have had several encounters with the Atlanta Police Department. Unfortunately, the result of these interactions has led me to question the seriousness of purpose of the APD on both the individual and departmental levels. On early Saturday morning of Memorial Day weekend, my vehicle was struck by a hit-and-run driver who ran the light at the intersection of Briarcliff/Moreland and Ponce De Leon with enough speed to total my vehicle, turn it 180 degrees, crash it head-on into a bus shelter and send parts of my car flying more than 20 feet across the intersection. Given that the accident took place at around 4 a.m. on the first night of a holiday weekend, it seems likely that the driver of the other vehicle may have been intoxicated. However, despite having serendipitously arrived on the scene less than a minute after the accident occurred, the reporting officer made no attempt to pursue the driver or investigate the crime (leaving the scene of an accident) or crimes (and driving under the influence) that had been committed.

Subsequent calls to the Atlanta Police Department and to the officer himself resulted in one hang up and an unreturned call, respectively. Before hanging up the phone mid-conversation, an employee at the APD asked “Do you know how many hit-and-run accidents there are in Atlanta each year?” as though the prevalence of the crime excused the Department’s failure to investigate. When asked whether the implied systematic failure of the APD to actively investigate hit-and-run accidents may be related to the prevalence of the crime, the call was abruptly terminated.

Early Friday morning, my (new) car was broken into while parked in my driveway, a crime interrupted and partially witnessed by a vigilant neighbor. Because the car only sustained relatively minor damage (a shattered door window), the reporting officer, D. Willcot, declined to file a police report and at no point indicated he would be interested in questioning my neighbor about what she had seen. He patiently explained that car windows are broken all the time in Atlanta, my insurance would not cover the damage, and therefore there was no purpose in filing a report. I requested numerous times that a report be filed regardless of my insurance deductible or any such matters that should have been outside the realm of his concern. He assured me that the Atlanta Police Department NEVER bothers filing reports for broken car windows, which would indicate that such crimes are neither investigated nor prosecuted, which itself more than tacitly implies that one shouldn’t even bother calling the police in such cases. After a final plea that the officer file the report regardless, if for no other reason that to indulge me with an official piece of paper stating that a crime had, in fact, been committed, the officer reluctantly complied (case number ***********). Over the weekend, I discovered that four other people I know have had car windows smashed within the same square block of my home within the last six months, and mine was the only one for which a report was actually filed. The prevalence of a crime is no reason for it to be ignored.

To their credit, both of these officers were courteous and ostensibly helpful. I do appreciate that the APD is likely understaffed and underfunded, like many public services, and that there are many, more serious crimes committed within its jurisdiction. My experience with the hit-and-run accident would suggest that the APD is at best lazy and at worst negligent. After the second experience, I can’t help but wonder if it is official Department policy to coerce unsuspecting crime victims and underreport our city’s less glamorous yet apparently rampant crimes as a means of artificially deflating the city’s crime statistics? Further, what message do these failures send about the supposed seriousness of law enforcement in this city?


Fat Asian Baby

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