Herkimer, Where Criminal Trespass is a Team Sport
Just when you thought it was safe to go out in your driveway again, the team sport of Herkimer malicious trespassing takes the field again.
If you read my previous post about The Ball, you’ll know that earlier this summer my neighbors called the police on me when I refused to return a ball deliberately kicked at me with great precision from across the street. It was kicked by a beefy teen, striking me on the back of my legs.
The responding Herkimer Village Police Officer, the pseudonymous Officer Heist, threatened to arrest me for Petit Larceny, duped by this very old scam. He accused me of intending to steal the worthless ball used to assault me, the one I’d already tossed into the neighborhood’s adjacent playing area. It was outrageous!
Ball Harassment Continues
Malicious trespassing in Herkimer is a popular team sport. The innocent children whose ball the Herkimer Police leaped to defend have taken to vandalizing our car under the pretext of retrieving their (new) ball. The ball rolls into our driveway frequently, although the street is perpendicular to the driveway. A baller retrieves the ball, off camera. During his or her stay, our car is scratched or sprayed with acid. Repeat. Repeat. Obviously it’s at their parents’ instigation. These kids are probably paid in cash or drugs. The State Police appear to have clamped down on their parents following their abusive mob interaction with us in the street. (Herkimer’s Pleasant Avenue is a quietly sanctioned haven of drug trafficking, its workers flush with drug money. There are signs that things far more heinous go on here, also involving children. )
I ordered one girl from my driveway the other day, telling her she was trespassing and not to return. She screamed “Don’t you ever talk to me that way!” As you’ll note from the video clip of her departure, she was quite indignant and circled her hand about her head, indicating that any defiance to her outrageous behavior was insane. Politeness and respect are obviously strangers in her family. Sadly there is an arrogant expectation that my home is a public way to be used however and whenever my neighbors see fit.
Additional cameras have been brought on line. More are coming. We live as I did in Cote D’Ivoire West Africa, where each home’s a fortress, and anarchy prevails.
What I’ve Learned from Herkimer’s Officer Heist and the Pleasant Avenue Ball Harassment
Shrugging our shoulders in helplessness because, Hey! It’s just Pleasant Avenue, ill-serves us all. There are two underlying problems here. The most important is attitude. As a community, we must provide basic services, or we’re not a community. If we can’t do this alone, we have to ask for help. To be a successful community rather than one in name only, we have to change to an “I think I can and I will try” attitude. Too often when problems are discussed here, even the best of Herkimer’s people sigh, shrug their shoulders and say, “It’s Herkimer.” (At some point, perhaps the citizens of Gomorrah probably did the same.)
Herkimer is crime-ridden and plagued by poverty. Many of the children on our street are very intelligent, but they are not engaging intellectually – their education is pathetically inadequate. Some are reading grade levels below what they should. It’s obvious the school system treats them as pariahs and tracks them as such. At least one middle school student didn’t know what the Atlantic Ocean is. One doesn’t know what an ocean is. A very bright and likable neighboring 9th grader is periodically made campfires from his homework assignments. He correctly determined that Herkimer considers him social junk that his school’s job is keep him off the streets during the day. Like many kids in Herkimer, he’s filled with rage and hopelessness.
We can do better than this, Herkimer. If not now, when?