Tuesday, January 1, 2008

3 Posts In One Days Makes Me Up In Arms

Admittedly I was already seething after attempting to research the CTA news.
But honestly, I'd be annoyed with the Maryland Transit Administration police chief David Franklin. In an interview with the Examiner, Franklin says, "Some of our young people have lost their moral compass. They need to be taught the appropriate behavior."
Franklin glosses over a major issue in the incident that is the focus of the interview (the beating of a woman on Dec. 4--who is at "fault" is going back and forth)--that the camera on the bus was not working. "Some are not working. There are obviously issues with them. We have already implemented a new maintenance plan, removing and repairing some of them. That’s an area we’re improving," he said in the interview, as if to imply, yeah, they're not working, shit happens, dude.
He also promises that on the "15 to 20" school routes in near "trouble schools" the bus drivers will notify MTA police at the first sign of trouble. Again, I ask, why isn't this already a part of policy? If we're riding through Timonium to Lutherville or a "nice" are of the city what needs to be done? Does it take serious crime to notify the authorities? This promise to riders is under a vague assumption that big trouble needs to take place first--this has never been my experience but the message MTA is sending is that unless we're in a stereotypically "bad" area, where the "bad" teens are, we're all going to die.

Davis, and Baltimore, leave the kids alone. Whether or not these kids are at fault isn't the issue here--it's the general assumption that Baltimore's youth are, as Davis contends, "acting inappropriately," a vague assertion to behavior. How is Davis defining inappropriate? The youths in question in the Dec. 4 incident--supposedly--jumped from seat to seat, denying the victim a place to sit. But his assertion of students from "bad" schools does not describe the parameters of his assumptions. Speaking loudly? Singing? Dancing? Foul language or just obnoxious?
Davis asserts that juveniles are the problem, yet he "thinks" that five to fifteen percent are minors. In Decembers increase of [reported] crimes, only two have involved a minor. The second, involved a stabbing in which a minor was attacked by other minors on Dec. 18. A third incident was the Dec. 26 shooting of a 14-year-old--whether the suspect is under 18 or from a bad school has not been announced.
That MTA plans to hand over footage to school so that minors can be hauled into the office for a sit-down discussion about behavior--off school property, after and before school hours--seems like an incredible waste of time and offense to juveniles in general. To do that MTA would have to fix the cameras first, and broken cameras has been a complaint for more than a year.

I share my morning and evening commute with high school students. Usually they are going to or coming from the Baltimore School for the Performing Arts given that my main light rail stop is Centre Street, but it's usually all schools from any part of Baltimore County. Every minor I've encountered in my commutes have been polite and gracious. Sometimes I turn the volume on my ipod down and listen in on their conversation--they are mundane and sweet, who passed notes to which girl, the notes from chemistry, the boy sent to the office for joking during a physics lab, that new song from Ne-Yo.
Baltimore is the only city I've noticed that people sing everywhere, all the time. Waiting for buses, sitting on buses, riding on trains, walking to work...people sing, and they sing loudly. It is what adds the charm to commutes, but the girls who sing in their uniforms sing quietly, for one another.
My experience, though fleeting in the grand scale, has also shown that they are the most polite. They are quiet, frighteningly respectful, and have more manners than the other demographics. Sharing a seat with a teenager last week, he very politely said, "My stop is next. Please excuse me." He gracefully stood, exited the seat, and let me have the window. He stood quietly near the door as the train barreled to North Avenue. He was far from bothersome.
One incident shouldn't cast negativity to an entire demographic. The Dec. 4 incident is quickly becoming more than an assault between teenagers and a 26-year-old and the other incidents are said to be motivated not by age but by ethnicity. Should any of these become classified as a hate crime, will the MTA send video to political leaders? If the 26-year-old Caucasian woman is charged, and I'm talking loudly on my cell phone, will I have a sit-down meeting for behaving inappropriately? Will I have to take a class on how to sit, stand, communicate, enter, and exit a method of transporation? Will I need to take a remedial class in transportation?

After all, it wasn't an "unruly" high school student who, holding her infant so his head was just under her chin, lit a cigarette outside the door before she boarded the train. It was a woman in her thirties. And the irritating passengers on the light rail last week were old men. The meth addict on the train to Camden Yards? She was over 30 and nearing 40.

Leave the kids, uninvolved, just trying to get to class, home from school, to their after school jobs, tutoring, volunteering, and America's Next Top Model marathon, alone.

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