“Don’t go north of Dauphin Street.” That’s what I was told during my first week at Temple University. Don’t go north of a street that borders campus.
That’s the reality in Philadelphia: on the border of a leading university for business, art, and liberal arts is a place you simply shouldn’t go. But logically, we would be safe on campus, or at least that was the case when I was attending classes at Temple.
People say you’re safe if you have “street smarts.” You’re safe if you mind your own business. You’re safe if you accept the cancerous reality of violence in Philadelphia and act accordingly. But that only works if you think the cancer doesn’t spread.
On Sunday, November 28th, a Temple student was murdered as he got out of his car. He was driving back to campus after Thanksgiving break. All he did was get out of his car at the wrong time. He was minding his own business. But like a cancer, a deteriorating environment spreads and corrupts everything around it.
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It sounds heinous; the kind of thing that finally wakes people up. It won’t, the same way a fourteen-year-old boy being shot eighteen times in North Philly won’t wake anybody up. He’s not the first, and he won’t be the last. Philadelphians are numb to local violence, and no single act is going to suddenly make large numbers of people care enough to make a change.
Rather than solutions, many of the talking heads in this city provide finger-pointing and platitudes to satiate the public. It’s easy to blame the NRA for gun violence in a deep blue city. It’s easy to blame a rogue DA for abdicating his duty. But it’s tremendously difficult to recognize the failure of one’s own actions as contributing to the destruction of a city.
We conservatives need to stop blaming Larry Krasner for the spike in violent crime in Philadelphia and start pursuing solutions that don’t involve voting in hopeless elections. When conservatives spend all their energy talking about Krasner, they are being just as unhelpful at ameliorating the problem as liberals who blame the NRA or issue ineffectual statements about violence. We’re much too busy yelling about the spark while we ignore the powder keg beneath our feet.
It’s time to accept that we won’t get rid of Larry Krasner any time soon, but we can negate his influence over the city. If you live somewhere that resembles Mad Max more than it resembles the cradle of liberty, what can you do to improve your surroundings? The city is sick, but it isn’t terminal.
Don’t let yourself be a victim. If you can’t trust the police or the judicial system to protect you, protect yourself. Pennsylvania is a shall-issue state, meaning if you satisfy the minimum requirements for licensure, the state will issue you a concealed carry permit. Educate yourself on the state’s laws on self-defense and don’t become another statistic. That doesn’t mean you should walk across town looking for a fight; it does mean you shouldn’t let someone victimize you while you get out of your car or walk to the park.
If you live somewhere that resembles Mad Max more than it resembles the cradle of liberty, what can you do to improve your surroundings? The city is sick, but it isn’t terminal.
The more people who let themselves be taken advantage of, the more emboldened criminals become, and the city devolves further into chaos. Why accept getting robbed if it only makes the problem worse? Are we really that apathetic?
Improve what you can. Your neighborhood, block, and home are not perfect, no matter where you live in Philadelphia. There is absolutely no excuse to let everything fall apart around you without doing something about it. Fix something. It doesn’t need to be profound. Cleaning up a gutter? Great start. Cleaning the graffiti off the stop sign on your block? Even better. There is a large and growing body of evidence that suggests even small-scale revitalization efforts in neighborhoods may reduce crime.
Ask yourself what’s amiss in your community and how can you set it right. Now imagine if everyone on your block did the same. Imagine the same for your neighborhood. How about the entire city?
This may sound crazy, but I haven’t heard many proactive approaches being discussed. It’s certainly better than doing nothing.
Larry Krasner’s abominable policy can’t kill a city that isn’t already sick. Philadelphia is truly, deeply sick. Are you willing to fix something? If you won’t do it, who will?
Craig Yeomans is a digital marketing manager at Broad + Liberty and a Temple University graduate.