by Max Brantley
It's a slow morning, so I'd like to highlight for those of you who might have missed it David Koon's story on the Little Rock man whose home, car and dog have been under fire by a pellet gun sniper repeatedly taking aim from the Parris Towers housing project of the Little Rock Housing Authority.
You'd think locating a demented repeat gunman in a single building could be accommplished in a city making the strides Mayor Mark Stodola is claiming in the fight against crime. You'd be wrong. The Little Rock Housing Authority? They won't even come to the phone.
A couple of Arkansas Times readers get the outrage and sent letters to the editor, which I print below. They are sympathetic. And have problems of their own with police response to neighborhood problems.
I am appalled at the nature of crime in the city of Little Rock. An Oklahoma native, I moved here in December of 2009 while my wife works towards her PhD at UAMS. Her family is from the area, so I have heard about the nature of crime, the lack of police response and the apathy of the general populace. It seems to me that most citizens of Little Rock continue expanding further and further west, down Highway 10 and Chanal, to escape the "dangers" of the urban-area, all the while allowing it to be someone else's problem.
Well, that is just what I see when I read "In the Crosshairs" (http://www.arktimes.com/arkansas/in-the-crosshairs/Content?oid=1255631) in Aug. 5 edition of the Arkansas Times. Not only has one family moved to a neighborhood known for its crime and misuse, but they have done their best to clean up the property and revitalize some of the less desirable areas of Little Rock. After having his home, his pets and his property vandalized by tenants of Parris Towers, a low-income apartment building catering to the poor and invalid, he attempted to talk to the manager of the establishment, which caused a chain-reaction of even more negativity towards him and his home. David Jones, I am on your side, sir.
The Arkansas Times attempted to contact the Little Rock Housing Authority, which operates the building, and Parris Towers. Neither call was returned. Police say there is nothing they can do due to the apartment hierarchy and already excessive call load.
How can the Chamber of Commerce or any other organization devoted to bringing in new tax-paying citizens hope to succeed when this is the kind of thing I have to read about on a continuous basis and see nothing done? Little Rock, for a capital city of a state, is not exactly big, and for that growth to begin, possible migrants need to feel safe, secure, and welcome. None of which this story denotes to me.
This is not the first time I have heard of unnecessary violence that should be easily preventable. I know of a handicapped woman living ... [in a nonprofit's housing project near downtown] who has been raped repeatedly by people not living in the facility. This facility is supposed to be accessible only if you have a tenant card that allows access, although I have repeatedly entered the building by multiple entrances that were not closed, locked, or key carded.
I have called the police when tenants at my apartment complex were outside smoking marijuana, playing the music so loud you could hear it in the street, and screaming and yelling all night while I have to get up the next morning. No police ever were sent to my location.
I moved here after receiving my degree in Journalism, and I am neither apathetic nor ignorant towards the atrocities occurring in my new home. If the Little Rock government doesn't get their act together soon, I can guarantee being a voice of protest towards those looking to move here, be they individuals, families, or businesses. Who wants to live in a place where you never feel protected and where the law constantly replies to complaints with "our workload is too big"?
After reading "In the crosshairs" from the Aug 5th edition I found myself at a loss. I was both enraged for and sincerely empathetic to David Jones, who seems to be living a daily nightmare. Personally, his stamina for tolerating such abuse is beyond me. Unfortunately, the complete disregard for common decency, privacy, and community seems to be spiraling out of control lately. I, along with scores of others, find myself spending more and more time battling the constant onslaught of disrespect shown by renegade citizens. Consistent 3 a.m. calls to both property managers and police due to throbbing bass that resonates throughout my entire home has been my prize since my recent move into a new apartment. Really? Is it so hard to show minor compassion for the people who live around you? Is there really so much of a need to impose on those around you? People are quickly losing their sense mutual respect for one another and go about their lives as though they are insulated from those around them, leaving a maddening wake of frustration and despair. Whatever reason the shooter has for the taunting is simply not good enough, and I'm sure they haven't even taken a moment to think of the real emotional and physical stress that the Jones' must deal with on a daily basis. If they did, common decency would AT LEAST compel a less aggressive and harmful manner of attack. Instead, some idiot child or wildly irresponsible adult is taking a perilously close chance at doing real damage to play a stupid game. I imagine that due to the ineffectiveness from both the Little Rock Housing Authority and the police in this matter, Mr. Jones would probably appreciate a more community-based movement to stop insidious and malevolent actions of unrepentant neighbors. I, for one, wouldn't mind making a personal visit to the Parris Towers Apartments, anyone else?