The city’s collective news media, now fully distracted by basketball, seems content to look away from the violence brought by a mob of 200 that started at Waterfront Park March 22. No one, with the possible exception of WHAS Radio’s Terry Meiners, is asking the right people the difficult questions about unruly 11-year-olds roaming the streets and scaring regular folks from even coming downtown.
I wrote about this for Insider Louisville, which added a poll that says its readers, (at least 77% of them), don’t think local media has done a good job of covering the issue.
So I walked the Big Four Bridge on Saturday, and there was a great family atmosphere, even if my son didn’t exactly enjoy the Sousa music coming from the overhead speakers. We saw plenty of moms, dads, grandparents, kids, couples, blacks, whites, bikes, joggers, segways and (even though there’s a sign clearly stating it’s illegal) dogs. I wondered who’s in charge of telling dog owners who can’t read that they can’t bring their canines (who, yes, poop there) onto the bridge.
And I thought about confrontations that end up in violence. I thought about asking the guy with a dog on a leash, who was pulling on the leash to keep the dog, who clearly needed to do what dogs do, from doing his business there, if he couldn’t read or if he was just blatantly violating a rule put in place to make the bridge better for everyone. But I considered the risk that this person I didn’t know would react with anger or, worse yet, pull a weapon, and tell me to mind my own business. Which I did.
The other noticeable negative is the amount of graffiti present, on signage, on the concrete, on the sidewalk. Was anybody witness to this de-facing of public property? Would anyone have the courage to say something if they did, or just walk on past? I saw plenty of police presence, but that was in the middle of a beautiful afternoon. It was a completely perfectly pleasant place. How would a confrontation with a stranger disrupt the atmosphere?
With Thunder scheduled for Saturday, I’m hoping there’s a record crowd and no criminal behavior, that nobody gets robbed or beat up or even intimidated. I hope parents don’t let their 11-year-olds loose without supervision, and that if a bunch of young people gather in one place it’s to dance or celebrate the air show and fireworks.
But I’ve also read the comments posted on social media, the ones from folks who say that they’re not coming downtown for fear of getting victimized, that thank you very much we’ll watch this one from home.