A window on downtown

I’m sitting here at the Saucer on my laptop. Didn’t intend to be working on the computer on a Friday night, but it was important to me to get the news section of the Residents of a Safer Downtown Memphis site up as soon as possible – and it just came up. Check it out. Besides, the Saucer is not a bad place to sit and work. A girl in a tube top keeps walking by, and of course the waitresses are here. Mikey is sitting here with me working on the site (now that this is back to being my personal blog, he’s “Mikey” again, not “Mike King”). We’re jokingly referring to the Saucer as “our office.” I think our office needs to hire a few Romanian employees.

One thing I mentioned in a post last week is that we have bought a video camera and plan to start using it to record crimes committed downtown. We plan to focus on two problems in particular which we see as gateways into other types of crime, areas which we feel are not currently being adequately addressed: panhandling and cruising.

To re-state a point I made in an earlier post, we’re going to record some of the shit that goes down in this area on the weekends. (Now that this is back to being my personal blog, I’m not inserting an asterisk in place of the “i”, and I’m not apologizing for foul language.) We’re going to record aggressive panhandlers cursing people out and following them down the street after they’ve said no. We’re going to record prostitution. We’re going to record violations of the noise ordinance. We’re going to record flagrant violations of traffic laws committed by cruisers. Then we’re going to make DVDs and send them to city leaders to convince them how out of control these situations are. We may put the videos on the web as well.

Well, since that idea came into being, we’ve received e-mails from people wanting to help. One of them has set up a webcam that overlooks the intersection of Front and Peabody Place: you can see the current image here, and the image is updated every two minutes. (You’ll have to hit F5 in your browser to refresh the image; it doesn’t automatically reload the page when a new image is captured.) You can also view all images taken over the last 24 hours by selecting from this index.

The intersection of Front and Peabody Place is in the foreground of the image, and farther back you can see the intersection of Front and Beale. This is prime cruising territory on the weekends, and it will be very interesting to see what the camera picks up. Unfortunately the webcam doesn’t have sound, so we won’t catch any noise violations. But I think it will give everyone downtown an idea how badly the cruisers snarl up traffic between about 11 PM and 3 AM, on Friday-Sunday nights and especially on Saturday.

We’ll see what happens. Happy weekend everybody…