Sunday, May 25, 2008

"Shooting at the Hayward" or "Why did we move down here again?"

Last night, a man at the Hayward Hotel fired shots out of his window. Details from KNBC:

Police: Man Accused Of Firing Shots From Hotel Window
Officials Say Starter Pistols, Air Rifles Recovered From Man's Abode

LOS ANGELES -- A man suspected of shooting from a downtown hotel toward the street was in custody Sunday, police said.VideoThe shots were fired from the Hotel Hayward, 601 S. Spring St., just before 8 p.m. Saturday, said Los Angeles police Officer April Harding of the media relations section.No one was injured.Police determined the man was firing from a street-facing window on the east side of the 12-story building, according to Newsreel Video.Police blocked off Broadway and Spring Street between Fifth and Seventh streets during the incident, Harding said.A police helicopter was used during the two-hour standoff, which ended when the accused sniper, on the seventh floor, surrendered to police, Newsreel reported.The man was described as a man between 45 and 55, Newsreel reported.Police entered the man's residence, where they found a collection of starter pistols and air rifles, but no lethal weapons, according to Newsreel.Police said that the man was possibly responsible for similar shooting incidents this past week, Newsreel reported.The man's name was being withheld while police continued their investigation, said a watch commander at the Los Angeles Police Department's Central Station.

This was across the street from where we live. I'm not a happy mama.

When we moved to the neighborhood, I knew we were taking a chance since it definitely has its gritty side. I've worried about the safety factor, solely because of Kidlo. I've always hated the suburbs, but now that I'm a mother, I get it. I get why people want to huddle into their little homogeneous enclaves, with alarms on their houses and cars, not letting their kids play on the streets. Part of me wants to flee the city with Kidlo and raise him in a place where nothing bad can possibly ever happen to him. Yes, I know that such a place doesn't really exist, but it's such a seductive idea. It's why suburbs thrive.

But MB and I feel very strongly that we don't want Kidlo to grow up in a bubble of privilege, completely cut off from people who are different. We want to live in a neighborhood that's culturally, racially and economically diverse, with a strong and thriving arts scene. We want to break our dependence on driving and enjoy walking, bumping shoulders with other people and truly immersing ourselves in life, not limiting our interactions with other human beings to shopping in a climate-controlled mall.

I'm Puerto Rican and grew up in Soundview in the Bronx and lived in Brooklyn and the East Village in New York. My family was poor--I know what it's like to eat government cheese and go to the hospital emergency room for health care. I was the first person in my family to go to college and now I'm solidly middle class, at least with regards to my wallet. So in many respects, I straddle two worlds (if not more). I'm glad that Kidlo will grow up with more resources and more opportunities than I had. But I don't want him to take it for granted. I don't want him to feel contempt for others simply because they're poor. I don't want him to look at people who come from different countries and treat them as if they are sub-human.

So here we are Downtown.

But then I wake up to the news that a man was shooting a gun across the street. I see people dealing drugs on 5th Street. And I fear that I'm not doing the right thing by my son.

That's the tradeoff, right? By opening yourself up to new experiences, you open yourself up to fear as well. But if you give into that fear and wall yourself off from life, you sacrifice your humanity, your creativity, the capacity for empathy and compassion.

By the way, my sister is a New York City cop. She sees a lot of ugly shit. But she still wants to raise her kids in the city. She understands the risks in a visceral way, but she doesn't want to be cut off either. So there she is.

And here we are. Downtown.


Anonymous said...

first of all yea, come on downtowns still got a ways to go. dont get me wrong im all about it. but you picked a relatively clashy/sketchy are to live with your family. shoulda done more research.

but yea you get used to it.

Ginny Brideau said...

I've posted a couple of times on your site, and you might now that Alex and I are due at the end of August. After living down here for a couple of years, there was no doubt in our mind that we were staying.

When we started to tell people we were moving, they asked us to which neighborhood. I would reply "Up a block" and their reply would be "Echo Park?" Nah...Spring Street. We started on Los Angeles Street, when it was only lit with crack pipes. Moved to Main Street, where we got the street lights turned back on. And, now - Spring.

Our daughter will have the best of everything. The Central Library is right here, access to transit, up the street from an amazing hospital, great childcare....

Most importantly - we have met some of the most amazing people downtown. I love the fact that we will be able to do ArtWalk with our little one and have her exposed to things I only thought existed in magazines.

Li said...

We took our son to the last art walk and it was great. Lots of people brought their kids and no one minded. I agree that growing up downtown is an enriching experience for kids.

Aida said...

I understand that you want your child to grow up in a neighborhood that's culturally, racially and economically diverse.I think that's a great idea. And I do hope downtown becomes like that eventually, but I think it will take plenty of years for it to turn really that diverse. Most schools around downtown are predominately filled with low-income Hispanic students- so much for diversity. Just keep that in mind when your child starts school. If you really want him to be expsed to diversity, he can always be bussed out to a magnet school anywhere in LAUSD. My parents did this to me and it was a great experience that none of my childhood friends got to see. Best of luck to you and your family! BTW, love your blog- it's so interesting to read about individuals who have moved here from other states...write on!