Then ( excerpt from essay posted on Sept. 27 as There is Here)
But something has changed. A group of tenants moved into the building next door to us a few months ago and our life has not been the same since. Gathering in the back stairway, just under our bedroom window and the porch we used to spend time on, drinking by these tenants starts in the morning and continues all through the night. It doesn’t matter what day of the week it is and there is no concern for the volume level or the content of the conversations. There is talk about guns, obtaining guns, shooting people, getting shot, escaping from the police and from others who are shooting at them.
I don’t usually shy away from normal confrontation with reasonable people. But my perception is that their values and their view of life are very different from mine. Their volatile unpredictability holds me hostage. Responding, as you could in a normal neighborly spat, is not an option. It’s not worth the risk.
“You’re working with the f***ing police, aren’t you? We know you. We’ll get your f***ing ass”
The six officers who responded to my 1am 911 call on Friday, finally got this group that I referred to in the paragraph above, to turn down the music and return to their apartments. With the tenants now in their apartments, the officers and I talked for a few minutes in the alley. A woman calmly walked right through the entire group of us. She looked familiar to me and I didn’t realize, until a few moments later, where I had seen her before. She recognized me too, because as she walked between us, she smiled at me. I nodded.
We all finished talking and the officers recommended I return to my house via the front door, so that I would not be identified by the tenants next door. So I started walking south down the alley, towards Howard, when I realized this woman was now right behind me. “You’re working with the police aren’t you?” “What did you say?”, I responded as I turned around. “You’re working with the f***ing police, aren’t you? We know you. We’ll get your f***ing ass”.
It was then I realized who she was. I had seen her occasionally with the group next door. I ran back to the officers and told them what had just been said. “If you are willing to sign a complaint, we will arrest her for verbal assault.” The lead officer said. I responded that I was willing to do that. They left and about an hour later, another squad car pulled up, told me they had arrested her and asked me to sign papers.
“The neighborhood isn’t as dangerous as some residents contend” says Bud Ogle in this weeks’ excellent article in the Reader. This building is a recent purchase by Mr. Ogle. To be fair, he inherited these tenants. But we have been complaining about this behavior for 4 months now. My neighbors and I have spent endless nights being woken up, calling 911, being afraid, being eyeballed and sending dozens of, respectful but detailed emails to Mr. Ogle describing this behavior. We finally had a meeting brokered by Ald. Moore, Wednesday, October 12, and promises were made and guidelines were followed that were suggested by Mr Ogle. Someone showed up at 10pm Friday night after I called. He said sheepishly to the tenants ”please turn your music down”. Of course, as soon as he left the noise and rowdy behavior started up again. And then the police were called at 1:00am.
This was the first direct threat. Actually, these have been the first words exchanged between any of us.
Sadly, this is just how we live.
by Gary Fuschi