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Zero tolerance for thuggery

Your June 30 editorial (“Park crackdown should enforce all the rules”) is exactly right. Enforcing rules about youths loitering, public drinking, and illegal motor bikes across the board in our parks and streets is required. Always.

I saw kids on dirt bikes roar down sidewalks in Codman Square without anyone complaining, much less the merchants, who accepted it as part of “living in the big city.” Wrong. This is anti-social behavior and by any standard, it’s unacceptable. A man is murdered in front of the Codman Square Post Office in 2008 and there is no public outcry. No Neighborhood Council emergency meeting. No ministers on the march.

As early as April and May, I reported to police that hordes of kids on dirt bikes were congregating at the Harambee playground. There would be 10 or 12 there gunning their motors a few feet from soccer games and a children’s playground. The same place where a four-year-old was recently shot. There’s no evidence that the two are related, but lax enforcement sent the message that roving gangs of young men on dirt bikes at 6 p.m. is good clean fun. The community got the message, too. They don’t complain because it’s not a priority for them. But things get out of hand when anti-social behavior is accepted as part of “growing up.”

Codman Square residents have lowered the bar of acceptability. They accept too much They need to learn the broken window theory: One cracked window in a house is tolerated. Then someone throws a brick and the crack gets bigger. That’s tolerated. Then the house is vandalized, and the community cries out for action. Too late.

Thugs and thuggery are the worst infection on the quality of life in Codman Square. The only antibiotic is to make thugs socially unacceptable. Residents cannot self-isolate. They will lose their community. They must demand attention to all forms of anti-social behavior from the Neighborhood Council, at Area B3 and C 11 meetings, from city councillors and the mayor. But most importantly, from their neighbors.