As a victim of a violent assault in Charlottesville, a hundred feet from my apartment last summer, I feel as though I have a personal stake in the question you posed in this week’s C-VILLE, “Does Charlottesville Have a Gang Problem?” [July 8, 2008]. Yet I was disappointed by your approach to the question.
There were some positive aspects to your article. It answered many questions for me about the police position on gangs, and about the history of cases brought against gang members here, as well as Virginia’s statutes on gangs. Yet I was disappointed by what I perceived as a lack of minority voices in your article, the voices of those who will surely be most affected by gang violence.
Your reporter, Scott Weaver, did a good job of representing the police position on the matter, and his quotes from Tim Sinatra, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Charlottesville/Albemarle, were helpful. Still, little attention was paid in the article to either the voices of alleged gang members, or the voices of community members who may be affected by gangs. Do community members perceive there to be a gang problem in Charlottesville, and if so, what do they think should be done about it? What do they think about the police? Do community members perceive the police actions described in your article as proactive or racially biased? Do the citizens of Charlottesville being arrested for or questioned about gang activity feel they are being treated fairly, or are they being harassed?
All of these questions seem, to me, like important ones to ask when deciding whether or not Charlottesville has a gang problem, and I think they were overlooked in your story. I realize that you cannot possibly cover every point of view on a complex issue in a weekly newspaper article, but I think that overlooking viewpoints besides those of the police gives the impression of a bias towards their authority. The police are not infallible, and romanticizing them as urban cowboys, no matter how ambiguously, can be dangerous. Also, ignoring the voices of African Americans and Latinos, as in your article, those who will undoubtedly be most affected by gang violence or police violence, suggests a more pernicious racial bias, which I hope was unintended. In the future, please include more minority viewpoints in your coverage of a possible gang problem in Charlottesville.
Your article in the July issue of Abode [“Quintessential Charlottesville”] was shortsighted when it comes to Downtown and groceries. Sure, we don’t have a national chain, but there are plenty of choices for those of us who (a) like to buy local or at least from locally owned stores, and (b) prefer to avoid long car trips. You won’t find 15 different varieties of mayonnaise, 100-plus brand-named breakfast cereals, or mega-packages of paper goods, but you will find what you need and then some. Check out the following that pretty much fill the grocery-store niche: Reid’s Market, Cville Market, and Integral Yoga. There are some nearby specialty stores: (don’t recall the name) on West Main across from the bus station, (Oriental store) next to Cville Market, and (Hispanic store) near Shebeen. And right Downtown there’s the Blue Ridge Country Store and Market Street Wine Shop—not full-fledged grocery stores, but they have plenty to offer.
Rebecca C. Quinn
Ed. note: The specialty stores Quinn mentions are the Afghan Grand Market, the Charlottesville Oriental Food Market, and El Tio.
After the falling
Thank you for the very good article on the rebricking [“Would rebricking wreck or enhance Halprin design?” Development News] in your July 8, 2008, issue.
It mystifies me why there is so much discussion and controversy over the bricks Downtown.
Walk around and feel how comfortable and safe it is to walk around the beautifully restored Jackson Park and Court Square and the Pavilion area, and Third and Fifth streets.
In the 18 years we have lived at East Jefferson and Third Street, I have fallen three times on Main Street’s cracked and broken sidewalks. And so have many others. I am a volunteer at the Virginia Discovery Museum and the Jefferson-Madison Library. I’ve seen others trip and fall on the cracks and the broken streets many times as I walk there every day.
Easter Mary Martin