I have lived in Center City Philadelphia for nearly twenty years. When searching for a home in 2004, my fiancé (now wife) and I had only one thing in mind: finding the safest neighborhood in which to start a family. We discovered that Logan Square in Center City had everything we needed. It was close to restaurants, public transportation, museums, and parks, and, most importantly, it was considered one of the safest communities in the city.

When vetting Logan Square, we walked down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, in awe of its beauty. We walked the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and took a photo with Rocky. We passed The Thinker at the Rodin Museum. We admired the beauty of the Swann Fountain and stood in Love Park and looked at the magnificence of Philadelphia’s City Hall. After our walk, we stopped for a beer and a roast beef and cheese at the famous Cherry Street Tavern. Even though we have lived in the Philly area all our lives, we never truly appreciated or realized the beauty of Logan Square. We fell in love with this little corner of Philadelphia that some call Logan Square Village. The neighborhood had it all, but most importantly, it would be a safe place to raise our children.

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When we purchased our house in 2004, having children was our dream. In 2007, that dream came true with the birth of our daughter, and in 2009, we were blessed with our second daughter. We happily raised our girls in Center City and felt completely safe and at ease. Our favorite spot was a little pocket park called Coxe Park. When the girls were ten and eleven, still young enough to enjoy the park, they were free to walk the one and a half blocks by themselves. We were grateful for, and blessed by, the life we built.

Things changed in 2018, when Larry Krasner took office as the city’s district attorney. Since then, our community has seen a spike in homelessness and lived through the encampment at Von Colln Playground. Retail thefts became commonplace. We pass discarded needles on our sidewalks. Cars are broken into every single night. Illegal ATVs and dirt bikes ride through our streets, ignoring speed limits, stop signs, and red lights. Our safe community was turning in a different direction, but at least we were safe from the violence and murder that plagued the rest of Philadelphia, or so we thought.

But on Dec. 14, 2021, that violence found our little corner of Philly.

A friend of mine was driving around Eakins Oval in front of the Art Museum. A pack of ATVs and dirt bikes surrounded his vehicle. As he cautiously navigated his SUV around the circle, his car and an illegal dirt bike lightly bumped. The event seemed innocuous enough. My friend did not fear for his life. After all, he was in Logan Square.

But before my friend knew it, he was being chased by the pack of illegal bikes. He drove away in fear and was able to reach 22nd and Spring Garden Streets unscathed. At that moment, however, a man on one of the dirt bikes pulled out a gun. My friend thought he was just flashing the gun in an attempt to scare him. Then, the man began shooting. My friend’s car was peppered with bullets. One went through the driver side window, with shards of glass cutting his face and lodged in the right bracket of the passenger side airbag

This was not an attempt to scare. This was an attempt to murder.

Thankfully, my friend was not injured physically. The emotional toll has had lingering effects, but he is alive, grateful for the grace of God to still be with us.

Illegal ATVs and dirt bikes have been dubbed a minor nuisance by our elected officials, but they have damaged the quality of life for citizens all over the city. On that day in December, they almost became deadly. A similar incident occurred on March 9, 2021, when a man on an ATV pulled a gun on another man on Broad Street because his illegal vehicle was accidentally bumped by the man’s car.

The illegal ATV and dirt bike issue is complex and not easily solved. Police fear that chasing illegal vehicles could cause accidents and harm pedestrians. Although there are no easy solutions to this problem, there are certainly bad ideas. Elected officials are talking about rewarding this illegal behavior by building a park for illegal ATVs and dirt bikes. The necessity to illegally ride these ATVs and dirt bikes through the streets to get to this proposed park seems to have escaped the minds of officials.

Philadelphia has seen an uptick in all levels of crime, especially murder. The city saw 562 homicides in 2021, breaking the record of 500 set in 1990.

My daughters are now thirteen and fourteen. I do not even let them walk to our local grocery store unless they are together or with me or my wife. Our safe village has become lawless. We are not alone: this is happening all over Philadelphia. DA Krasner has proven that he will not prosecute low-level drug trafficking, theft, vandalism, prostitution, or even mugging. Consequently, police hands are tied because criminals know that even if they are arrested for low-level crime, there will be no consequence of prosecution. As a result, Philadelphia has seen an uptick in all levels of crime, especially murder. The city saw 562 homicides in 2021, breaking the record of 500 set in 1990.

We have all heard of trickle-down economics. Larry Krasner’s policies have created trickle-up criminality. When low-level crime is not prosecuted, it creates a ripple effect that increases crime at every level. Our DA does not understand that criminal justice reform does not, and should not, exclude prosecuting illegal behavior. 

Luckily for my friend, the criminal who shot him missed, or he would have been number 563.

Drew Murray is a Regional Sales Manager for O’Brien Business Systems, Inc. and lives in the Logan Square neighborhood in Center City Philadelphia. He is a husband and father of two daughters. He is the Republican leader of the 15th Ward. He is Chairman of the Philadelphia Crosstown Coalition and President of the Friends of Coxe Park. He also serves on the boards/councils of Center City District, Logan Square Neighborhood Association and the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter & Paul.

14 thoughts on “Drew Murray: Trickle-up crime is killing my community”

  1. According to the official vote count, in the last general election for Philadelphia District Attorney, Krasner was re-elected by receiving 113,308 votes compared to his opponent (Mr. Peruto) who received 50,582. This was a more than 2:1 margin of victory. The citizens of Philadelphia spoke loudly that Mr. Krasner’s way of prosecuting crime was what they wanted. Elections have consequences.

    1. How convenient for you to ignore the fact that Philadelphia/PA has a closed primary system, which is undemocratic. This is the reason Krasner advanced to the general election for an easy win, in a one-party city. If we had open primaries, which we should have since independent like myself have our taxpayer money fund the primaries, then Carlos Vega would have won the primary and then the general election.

      Also, Krasner egregiously violated campaign finance laws and illegitimately won both elections using MASSIVE funding from an out of state extremist Super PAC (funded by George Soros) and should be impeached as a result: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/da-larry-krasner-s-campaign-and-real-justice-pac-have-admitted-to-breaking-philly-s-campaign-finance-law-again/ar-AARFeXf

      1. Sorry. I completely disagree with the open primary system. If you want to vote in the primary pick a side, republican or democrat, and vote for that candidate. you can change registration on line and it is very simple to do before a specific deadline. Why didn’t more people vote in the general?

    2. You neglect to add significant facts in that election. According to the City Commissioners there are 1,050,042 registered voters in Philly. The total voter turnout was 229,700. Krasner tallied 155,102 votes. Peruto got 60,304. So over 800,000 people didn’t vote. Did they die from COVID or move out of the city? Did they vanish into the Bermuda Triangle? Maybe they were just lazy? The largely unreported story is that for whatever reason about two third of the people didn’t vote. Yes, Krasner won, but he didn’t win by overwhelming margins. He won because – for whatever reason – many people didn’t vote.

    3. With more than 1.1 million registered voters in Philadelphia, 113,008 votes for L.K. is the antithesis of the voice of the people. Rather, Philadelphians have sadly and wrongly chosen to stay away from the polls in great numbers. Consequently, more and more, an exclusive minority gets to dictate their will to the great majority of beleaguered residents in this sad town. It’s more of an expression of hopelessness of far too many in a one-party town that is managed by and for the party. That stifled voice is saying a lot in its silent suffering.

  2. Welcome to what us in working class communities all over the area have lived with for YEARS. You’ve lived your whole life in a bubble protected from that just like Krasner and the defund the police/criminal justice reform allies have.

    Meanwhile working class people in every section of the city and every formerly stable blue collar neighborhood have learned the hard way that you can’t even get into an argument anymore or try to discourage certain behavior in your neighborhood without potentially being shot to death. You think anybody is writing pieces like this about us? If you don’t know the answer to my question, I’ll answer it for you. No, they are not. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    The idea of building a dirtbike/ATV park is actually a good one. It would separate those who just want to ride from those who are actual criminals. You could even have an asphalt course or straight line or whatever so they could recreate urban riding. There’s plenty of space outside the city for that or even at FDR park.

    The ATVs and dirt bikes aren’t the problem. The same criminal stuff you describe regarding the ATVs/dirtbikes happens on basketball courts across the city. Do you want to ban those too? This problem has been festering for decades unnoticed by people like you who live in safe, gentrified neighborhoods. It will take decades to fix.

    1. They ride the ATVs to “flex” in front of the public; an ATV park is not going to provide that.

      Not to mention what the author points out- they have to illegally ride the ATVs to GET TO the ATV park. Dumbest idea ever.

      1. A) No. Some ride them to flex. Others just do it to be rebellious or get out and let off steam and have fun.

        B) Way to completely miss the point. The ATVs didn’t cause this nor is it limited to ATV or dirtbike riders. Get over yourself and your entitlement over nuisance stuff and recognize that it has been happening to other decent people for decades.

        C) No, it isn’t the dumbest idea. That would be Paine Park.

        D) You can easily make it illegal to ride on city streets and enforce it so people don’t ride there, you genius. There are things called trucks that can carry dirtbikes and ATVs to and from a place.

        The author clearly doesn’t understand anything about the situation beyond it being a nuisance to him and people he knows.

        1. That’s incredibly tone deaf. His friend was almost killed. You call that a nuisance? I have no polite words.

  3. Drew- this shouldn’t be the case, but the city leaders have failed us and we need to take matters into our own hands. If you see homeless in the park, ask them to leave. Install items on benches/furniture that make it inhospitable for laying on benches. If there are tents, get a few guys together and take them down or cut them up to make them unusable. Leave a flyer on where the nearest homeless shelters are.

    Other things we can do as neighbors to help protect each other:
    a) leave front lights on at night/add light fixtures to illuminate dark spots on your block (LED bulbs use barely any electricity) https://urbanlabs.uchicago.edu/projects/crime-lights-study;
    b) if you notice loitering, step outside on your front steps to serve as a deterrent for any possible criminal activity (but don’t engage unless criminal activity is actually happening);
    c) add hard-wired, high-def security cameras such as these ($40/each and couple it with an NVR to record the video, no silly subscription needed): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0777PNBY4/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
    d) Start a Slack.com group or group text with neighbors on your block to keep each other informed on safety/crime issues.

  4. This is the new equity. No longer is crime relegated to the “inner city” black areas but now spreads to broader areas.

    1. Black areas? I swear you people live on another planet.

      Most “black areas” were either white or mixed until like a decade or two ago. You all completely ignored what was happening to white working class people as our neighborhoods changed, and now you want us to feel sorry for you!

  5. Eloquent epitaph for my city. I grew up in Logan (not Logan Square,) moved to Delco as a pre teen but spent 90 percent of my time in the city. I now live in Center City. Those who are nit picking and calling this piece tone deaf are blinded by class envy and/or the bizarre idea that it’s the fault of gentrifiers for being victimized. Sometimes, we will delude ourselves into that whole “I’m depraved because I’m deprived” Officer Krupke crap. The animals who ride those ATVs don’t deserve a park, or respect. They deserve jail. And Giuliani was right: clean up the broken windows, restore quality of life, describe thuggish behavior as thuggish behavior and not “ letting off steam” and maybe we have a chance to save our city.

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