NEWS BLOG (WSAU) Many of the neighborhoods that I know best in New York City are struggling to recover from superstorm Sandy. All of these neighborhoods have changed since my family moved away. The lights are out in many areas, looting and general lawlessness have been huge problems. We’ve had reports of large gangs, 40-50 people, going into stores and homes and taking whatever they can get their hands on.
I grew up in Gravesend. It’s in the southern part of Brooklyn, not far from Coney Island. Never, once, did I feel unsafe in my neighborhood when we lived there. People knew each other on their block. Kids played outside. My ‘area limits’ were Kings Highway and the Avenue P park. The subway, the elevated portion of the Culver Line, was five blocks away. You could walk to and from the train at night with no problem. The situation today is unthinkable.
In the time after a storm there tends to be a breakdown of law enforcement. You lose the regular cop-on-the-beat when there are emergency situations that require all-hands-on-deck elsewhere. You’re on your own. The bad guys know that. There have been reports of homeowners and shopkeepers who've just stood by while their property was ransacked and stolen. Could there be a more helpless feeling?
New York City has some of the strictest gun control laws in the U.S. It’s impossible to get a handgun permit in New York. (There have been many high-profile cases where people have been threatened, and still been turned down for carry permits.) It begs the question, ‘is it moral to deny people the right to defend themselves at a time when the police can’t?’ I’m not recommending that someone take up arms against a roving mob of hoodlums; the odds seem poor. But one of the reasons we have this lawlessness is that the bad guys know there are no guns in the homes and stores they break into.
There are plenty of guns in New York City. There always have been. They’re just in the wrong hands.
There is another outrage in New York that will unfold this weekend.
Sunday is the New York City Marathon. It is scheduled to be run, as scheduled.
That's an outrage. How can police be diverted to provide crowd control for a race at a time when lives and property are unsecured while the power is out? Yet that's exactly what will happen.
There are three industrial-size generators sitting in Central Park to provide power to large tents for runners and the media. Shouldn't they be redeployed to neighborhoods where there's no electricity? Each one can power 400 homes.
There are some hotel operators who say they won't honor reservations for runners who are coming into town this weekend. They're refusing to throw people out after their homes were destroyed. That's the right decision.
The New York City Marathon is a marvelous race. This year, it should be cancelled.