Thursday, December 3, 2009

Crime: Antoine Soulard's Revenge

On Saturday morning, November 28 - the Saturday after Thanksgiving - the number of broken auto windows - evidenced by the piles of windows glass along the road and from the still parked, damaged cars - on Soulard and S. 10th Streets was discomforting. A simple shopping trip to Soulard Farmers’ Market yielded insight into the condition of neighborhood civility.

In front of 1823 S. 10th was a red truck with a broken driver’s side window, and there was a fresh pile of broken glass where an adjoining vehicle would have parked. Across the street in front of 1824 S. 10th was what looked like older broken glass (it was scattered) and an auto with a temporary black plastic bag driver’s side window. Around the corner and in front of 911 Soulard was another car with a broken window, plus two fresh piles of broken window glass in adjoining spaces. Across the street in front of 904 Soulard was an older spread of broken window glass.

It looked like somebody had taken out five windows during the previous night, supplementing evidence of older vandalism in the vicinity. The car in front of 911 Soulard had temporary Colorado plates. Not an auspicious beginning for a new purchase.

What is one to make of this?

In an e-mail blaster message from Terry Hoffman - and copied from Lisa Otke’s blaster message dated Saturday, Nov. 21, 2009 - the weekend before Thanksgiving - the message was:

"Great news from Officer Hickel, Soulard Community Officer.

"Officers caught 4 black males, 17 years old breaking into vehicles on Wednesday night in Soulard. There had several handbags and valuable in the vehicle they were driving which had been stolen earlier in the day. They were responsible for several car break-ins around the area. This should reduce crime in the area!

"Thanks to Officer Hickel for sharing this good news!! Let’s hope we see a reduction of crime for awhile!!

"Have a good week and Happy Thanksgiving!"

The call to celebrate was premature. One could try for some humor and comment that Hi-Tech Security, the "rent-a-cop" company hired with our special business district add-on tax, is hot on restoring neighborhood manners, but it seems that there is nothing humorous - nor effective - about Hi-Tech Security. Two recent stories in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch hinted that scandal touches the company, suggesting it suffers from a defective business plan.

Of course, over the last number of years, civility has not been a Soulard trademark. The Mardi Gras Grand Parade Day (and other boozy festivals) promotes Soulard as a place to waste, all in the name of celebrating drunkenness while boosting the bottom lines of area bars and restaurants.

Year around, the patrons of the bars and restaurants do a fine job of leaving a debris trail that helps convey the message that "nobody cares what happens in this neighborhood," the price we pay for the unsought designation from the City of St. Louis of "Entertainment District."

The Soulard Restoration Group, a self-centered collection of poseurs, believes that promoting the party somehow promotes the neighborhood. They effortlessly sidestep the truth that fighting trash, just like fighting crime, requires healthy neighborhood morale and effective leadership. What years ago had been an evolving residential neighborhood has been traded for a "party neighborhood."

So maybe we can see all these broken windows - and a lot of other anti-social events - as "Soulard’s Revenge," as payback from our namesake for directing his neighborhood down the road towards Pigpensville. Random vandalism, occasionally mixed with violence or the threat of violence, coupled with trash, noise, accidents, etc., all the stuff from the police blotter, are "Soulard’s Revenge" for turning a historic residential neighborhood into St. Louis’ Party Neighborhood, as The Riverfront Times labels us.


engineerboots47 said...

This report indicates something vital that is missing from the Soulard Neighborhood which is critical to its success. What is this component? Caring and involved residents.

In the early years of Soulard's rebirth, 1970 through the early 1990s, residents cared and took a vital role in ridding the neighborhood of crime while they revitalized and restored their homes.

Then came the party-hardy crowd, and somehow all that was created and nurtured took a backseat and has now become nonexistent. Yes, crime is going to happen, because it is an unfortunate part of life.

However, reading this story and the many which preced it tells a story of a neighborhood which has become numb to its own existence.

Go to work, come home, party, go to work... This pattern will be
regretted. The neighborhood organization has become ineffective. Local politicians don't seem to care.

Residents better wake up, because
the stories on this blog are truly a loud alarm that is not to be ignored.

Anonymous said...

Officer Hickel announced Wednesday that 3 young men had been caught for car break-ins and were to thought to be involved with 90% of Soulards car cloutings. That is great news, but as we should know, capture is only the first step. The real problem is not our fine police but our court system that is run by, mostly, liberal judges. Until residents actively get involved with the court system in an organized way (like Dutchtown has done in the past) then these boys will never learn a lesson and things will "keep on keeping on".

Anonymous said...

Hey, lets not discourage those stupid St. Elsewhere people who come to Soulard to drink, fight, litter, what have you. The crime inflicted on them takes the pressure off us residents. Let them take the punishment. You are right, it is "Soulard's Revenge."

Anonymous said...

Good news is that a capture of the bad guys was reported. Time will tell if the apprehension makes a dent in the recent crime wave afflicting our neighborhood( Soulard)

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it is time for those in charge of the Soulard Private Patrol to look elsewhere for their services. Surely, there are others that can provide these services.

Anonymous said...

Why do we have a neighborhood newspaper? All the news it ever prints involves the next party - Mardi Gras, Oktoberfest, Bastille Day etc.

Where is the real news about the neighborhood?

It takes a lot of digging on the internet to find out the real crime story in Soulard. Those without access to the internet are out of luck.

Why are we trying to hide the crime problem from residents? So prospective renters are not frightened away? So the bar patrons go to safer neighborhoods?

Soulard has many problems. I live in the red zone and have stopped taking walks there. I come home disgusted by all the trash and beer bottles on sidewalks and in the street. Look up to what should be a pleasant view of lovely old houses and see peeling paint and a generally unkempt appearance on too many buildings.

The Soulard Restoration Group has lost all interest in restoring, thinking that our reputation as party central will enhance the neighborhood. Look around. especially in the red zone. It is not an ever improving situation. If we are not coming up any more, does that leave nothing but going down?