Wednesday, August 09, 2006

GRAND RAPIDS, Part I: Three Blocks South of Wealthy, Me … A Targeted Crime Victim

For my introduction on my Grand Rapids series, click here.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- I thought that when I left the District, I was leaving the troubles of the crime emergency behind me. But yet, juvenile crime somehow followed me here. According to Wednesday's Grand Rapids Press, the city recorded its 16th homicide -- not quite up to D.C. levels ... but it’s a large number nonetheless. Many of the shootings have been happening on or near Wealthy Street SE, which anchors a zone of a gentrification of sorts going from the north and inching slowly south. This corridor between historic Heritage Hill and Eastown has seen a lot of investment, with new businesses, a restored Wealthy Theatre, coffee shops, a great new bakery, antique and design stores and the like. But yet, the crime remains.

On Tuesday, I was driving south on Fuller Avenue SE just south of Wealthy Street at Bemis Street when a little boy -- no older than six or seven -- threw a bright green water balloon into the open passenger window and it exploded all over me, all over my camera and my iPod. The cup holders filled with a half inch of water. I was pissed, but fortunately nothing was seriously damaged. While it was just a child’s summertime mischievous prank, what really angered me is that the child was in a group of other children with an adult supervisor -- perhaps a mother in her twenties -- who seemed to not care that drivers passing through on busy Fuller Avenue were getting pelted, potentially causing a car crash.

So if you find yourself in Grand Rapids, beware of the streets south of Wealthy Street. The locals may either shoot you or lob a water balloon at you when you least suspect it. (Speaking of snipers targeting cars … police are also searching for a person who has been shooting up cars on the South Beltline near Byron Center with a be-be gun …)

The rest of the series, to be posted in coming days ...

Part II: In My Weekend of Death, the Latvians Celebrate Their Dead
Part III: Condos With a View of Jerry Ford’s Grave
Part IV: Unhealthy Eating: A Guide to G.R.’s Best of the Worst
Part V: Cheap Ballpark Beer, Sandy Dunes and a Reeds Lake Trek
Part VI: Junk Drawer: A Grand Rapids Sampler


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