The streets don’t lie because the streets are always watching. “Y’all hear the reports, but we see the s#*% in action.” It’s easy to rely upon assumptions and stereotypes, however it’s necessary to seek truth when it comes to real issues within the black community. Radio Journalist, Julien Virgin, investigates social and economic problems occurring within communities of color throughout Atlanta, interviewing people on location in order to get the ‘scoop’. This is ‘The Word on the Street’.
The Word on the Street is that Atlanta’s commuters are increasingly becoming victims of theft while at the gas pumps. According to multiple reports, car thieves are taking money, valuables, and even entire vehicles from motorists who leave their cars unlocked and unattended while pumping their gas. Recently, South Fulton County has seen an increase in reported car theft. All signs point to “young and swift” juveniles as the culprits. The community is aware of this issue and has begun taking matters into their own hands through protests and boycotts. The questions that need to be answered surrounding the rise in car theft is why are these crimes happening and what can be done to deter these crimes?
There are multiple reasons WHY the community believes car theft is occurring.
- Lack of security at gas stations.
In particular, the BP located at the intersection of I-285 and Cascade Road has been a hotbed for crime. According to WAOK’s Rashad Richie, this gas station had 75 carjacking’s during the 2016 calendar year; about 70 percent of the carjacking’s in the entire area. Since the rise in crimes, the BP has failed to increase security measures to deter crimes from happening. The inside of the building is under high surveillance however; management has neglected the outside of the building, making this station an easy target for potential thieves. I reached out to BP for a statement but store management and BP’s corporate office refused to comment on the matter.
- Lack of positive role models at home and in the community.
Many residents within the South Fulton community point to the lack of positive role models as a primary reason why children descend into a life of crime. The War on Drugs resulted in the mass incarceration of many black men, which has had an immense impact on the family structure in communities of color around the nation. With that said, many young minorities behold public figures (entertainers, athletes) as their role models. Yes, President Obama is finishing his second term, but making the next hit record or living the ‘hoop dream’ is a much more feasible goal than being the leader of the free world in children’s minds. Recording artists are glamourized for their catchy hooks and unique looks, thus making them the biggest influence in our communities. Unfortunately, the message associated with today’s hip-hop culture has evolved into a misogynistic, materialistic, self-serving platform many use to stand upon for a brief second in the spotlight. You are what you eat, and our youth are consuming a full serving of negative messages in our mainstream music.
- Lack of resources (community centers, advanced schools, etc.) in the community.
School funding is based on property values. The higher the income of the neighborhood, the better the schools. Better schools create more resources and opportunities for children, which in turn create better communities. “These folks aint got nothing to do, they got too much time on their hands,” said Travis West, a local street hustler who survives off small day work around the area. The rise in crime has impacted street hustler’s way of living. Law enforcement suspects them to be involved with the recent spike in crimes and have made it harder for them to make an “honest living”. I spoke with West and a few other street hustlers on Cascade road and they cited a lack of activities for children and teenagers to get involved in stating, “The PlayStation isn’t enough.” However, according to atlantaga.gov, there are 29 recreational centers located throughout the city of Atlanta. I believe the lack of knowledge of these centers is a major issue plaguing these communities. Awareness about how to get involved with recreational facilities is a key component to the actions that need to be taken in order to solve this issue.
– Julien Virgin is a staff writer at WAOK/WVEE Atlanta AND a senior at Georgia State University. He majors in Journalism AND Sociology with a concentration in Telecommunications. Follow Julien on Twitter/Instagram @julien_virgin