Writer’s Name: S.F. Hardy
Title: New Bullies on the Block
We have all heard of school bullying. As adults, we have most likely experienced or know of someone who has experienced work place bullying but today, I want to discuss what I call neighborhood bullies. No, not the ones we encountered as a child walking to the store or those who like to separate themselves in a click and not play with certain children. I’m speaking of the ones that take over the neighborhood by loitering in front of the homes on your block; the ones that create a nuisance to the neighbors who work hard at keeping their homes and neighborhood safe and looking good.
On a frigid February day in 2010, my husband and I stepped into a deceptively small home for the very first time with realtors leading us. Only from the inside could we decipher the enormous square footage the home held; and although the house was not in the best cosmetic condition, when I stepped foot in the library I knew this would be our home.
In my excitement and haste to get to work on time, I was totally oblivious to the liquor store on the corner. Had I noticed it, I would have thought twice about bidding on the home I would soon call mine. The deadline was midnight that same evening and I did not visit the house until afterwards which I then became aware of the liquor store and all the traffic that it attracted. What have I done, I thought to myself. Not wanting to lose our “good faith deposit” my husband and I proceeded on with purchasing the home.
Much to our prediction—our block is hot! The day we closed on the home the house was broken into. I’m not sure what the perpetrators could have been searching for because the house was empty and had already been previously been stripped in the two or so years it sat vacant. Now that the frost began to thaw, it was apparent that we had more than the liquor store six houses down and across the street to be concerned about as groups of men who regularly congregated outside in front of two homes on the block attracting traffic, noise and garbage pollution.
As you may have guessed our neighbors appeared to have been trafficking drugs. My suspicions were confirmed this summer when I witnessed with my own two perfectly good eyes a very overt drug transaction; I was livid to say the least. I couldn’t believe the blatant disrespect that took place before me. What happened to discretion?! There are children and seniors on this block for God’s sake!
At this very moment, beyond anger I felt powerless, helpless and backed into a corner. I felt as if the dealers were taunting my neighbors and I saying, “we can do what we want to do and what you gonna’ do about it?” I took seeing two white men in a fancy car buy drugs without even getting out of their car very personal. I felt bullied because I had to refrain from acting on my first impulse to say something to both the buyers and the dealers. I knew if I acted I could possibly start a war that innocent people such as my child may suffer the consequences as a result. Moving was an option but it wasn’t. Why should I let someone push me away from my home, that is paid for, that I love? How could I leave without even putting up a fight? I couldn’t and I didn’t.
Think, I told myself as I tried to calm down. I decided that in order to combat being bullied, I would have to demand that my block be safe by making phone calls and writing letters. I received little to no response for my efforts. However, some of the nuisance dissipated as the houses that were once vacant are now lived in. I’m embarrassed for my city and state to report I never received a response from the politicians, media or authorities in regards to the matter. I spoke to other homeowners on the block who tried the same tactics before me with no avail.
I shake my head as I walk down the rest of my street which is adorned by beautiful well maintained homes and manicured homes absent of the rift raft that my family, neighbors and I are faced with on our block. As the winter season approaches I am working on a plan to spearhead a block club that will stand with me against the evils that may destroy our community.
Although I want these young men to cease and decease what they are doing to destroy our community I don’t think jail is the answer I’m seeking. I would like to see more programs created to eliminate the need or desire to sell drugs; a topic for another article coming to readers soon.