Hartford CT, violence, and the suburbs

Angel Arce Torres got tossed in the air by a hit and run driver in Hartford CT and a video camera showed multiple cars and people driving and walking past his crumpled body in the street. A few days before a former deputy mayor got beaten senseless and faces brain surgery. The sickening PR response from Hartford PD got this fireball in reply from Colin McEnroe of the Hartford Courant.

Whose fault isn’t it? The police. The police never share any responsibility for anything bad that happens, although they are often to be thanked for certain statistical trends. And if you think I am unfairly ascribing these sentiments to [Hartford Chief of Police] Roberts, I give you his own words:

“There was a time they would have helped that man across the street. Now they mug and assault him,” he said. “That’s not a police problem. We no longer have a moral compass. Anything goes.”

Daryl Roberts has to be the only urban police chief in America who, when commenting on the savage beating of a 71-year-old civic leader, would say “That’s not a police problem.”

I grew up near Hartford and we moved back for 18 months before moving to San Francisco last month. The city has been circling the drain since the 60’s while the prosperous suburbs that surround it view it with contempt and refuse to do anything to help. It’s all about individual townships there. There are no county or regional governing agencies that can deal with problems on a wide basis. More than once I’d mention Hartford’s problems to someone in the suburbs and get “Hartford can rot for all I care” in return – a myopic, utterly selfish view to be sure, and one eventually certain to backfire on the suburbs.

But Hartford certainly needs no help screwing things up. McEnroe continues.

I remain disappointed in Roberts. As for Mayor Eddie Perez, he appears to have leaped from sociopathy into pure psychosis:

Sarah Barr, spokeswoman for Perez, said the mayor was unaware of Roberts’ comments, but added, “There are so many positive things that are happening in reference to moving forward and working together with the residents and fighting crime. I think it’s a sense of frustration on behalf of the chief.”

It’s those glass-half-full types who just wreck everything, isn’t it, Mr. Mayor? You know, the people who insist on focusing on the dead body lying on the sidewalk and completely ignoring the lovely peonies blooming in the nearby streetscape planter.

Some statistics. As of 2000, Hartford had the lowest per capita income and highest poverty rate of any town in Connecticut. One in six children has one or both parents in prison. They deserve better than they’re getting from their machine politics government and the do-nothing suburbs that surround them.

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