The New York Metro reports a “Spike In Crime in Williamsburg,” but we expect the intended readership will be both disappointed and relieved. At the top, the story refers to “machete-wielding kids roaming the streets” and quotes a “tattooed South Fourth Street resident” (our old address!), who says, “My friend said they’re attacking white hipster boys on bikes.”
We think our ex-neighbor might have been having some fun with the reporter: the machete mayhem reported earlier this summer seems to have been gang-related, not extramural. Another resident practically admits as much to the Metro, but says, “It doesn’t matter to me who they’re attacking.”
In theory and morality, sure, but the only thing that’s going to get middle-class news consumers to pay attention to crime in Brooklyn is if people like them, or their teenage kids, are clearly its targets.
The Metro is right about the raw data from the 90th and 94th Precincts, but they give little sense of who’s doing what to whom. Slightly more revealing are the recent police blotter reports in local papers; though far from complete (and, we suspect, edited to prevent alarm), they paint a picture of robbery, burglary, and the occasional spasms of violence familiar to residents of most New York neighborhoods.
It’s only natural that small-time criminals will eventually focus their attention on those of their new neighbors who appear to have more money and less street muscle on their side than the more picked-over, longtime residents. Demographics being what they are, these will include some young people in antique Foghat t-shirts and pooka-shell necklaces. The Metro could have found some of them and printed their tales of woe. That would have gotten the switchboards ringing at their offices, and at City Hall.