Tuesday, July 24, 2007

What Is It About Nebraska Ave?

What Is It About Nebraska Ave?

A lot of bad news seems to come from Nebraska Ave. in South St. Louis these days.

On the way home from picking up dinner last night, I saw one of those impromptu teddy-bears-tied-to-a-lamppost shrines, so I assumed a child or teenager had been murdered -- isn't it lovely that's what I automatically assume!

I got home and saw the news report about a man shooting his stepdaughter about noon yesterday in the street on Nebraska, so we thought maybe it was because of that.

But it turns out the story is that a 35-year-old man was killed in a hit-and-run in the wee hours of last Saturday morning.

I guess that's why the teddy bears confused me; this happened at Nebraska and Winnebago in front of Froebel Elementary School in the Gravois Park neighborhood, where I worked as a tech spec during the August 2006 primary election. I naturally thought it had something to do with a child who was a student at the school; putting up teddy bears to memorialize a grown person is not something I'd have expected.

The noontime shooting yesterday happened several blocks further south, the 4500 block in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood.

Back on June 26, a 19-year-old was shot and killed at 1:30 a.m. in the 2800 block, in Fox Park.

Just over a year ago, on July 12 2006, a police car was stolen (!) by a woman who had just been arrested in the 3300 block. It was quickly recovered.

Exactly 18 months ago, on January 24 2006, a 44-year-old cabdriver shot and killed a 16-year-old who was trying to rob him, in the 3200 block.

Granted, Nebraska is a pretty long street that extends through several densely-populated neighborhoods -- Benton Park West, Compton Heights, Dutchtown, Fox Park, Gravois Park, Mount Pleasant, Tower Grove East, and The Gate District.

Even including Compton Heights, this area has a lower per-capita income, higher rate of poverty, and higher population density than the city as a whole:

Per Capita Income: $15,002 (citywide: $16,108)
Individuals in Poverty: 28.7% (citywide: 24.6%)
Families in Poverty: 26.2% (citywide: 20.8%)
Population Density: 6,133 people per sq. mile (citywide: 5,580)

This is not to excuse anything, but it is true that less wealthy areas tend to have higher crime rates. We could all do more to improve the situation, but sometimes it does seem rather hopeless.

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