Some Times Our Local Media Makes Me Laugh

This week’s rant is a bit different from normal, as I’m in a better mood than usual. Why am I happy for a change? I just spent two days in my favorite Midwestern city (Minneapolis) hanging out with my favorite person in the world (Traci) watching some of my favorite musicians (Golden Smog) play songs from my favorite new album (Another Fine Day, along with quite a few of their tunes from their other two albums). I spent way too much money on booze, food, and CD’s…but hey, it’s been awhile since I had something to smile about.
Shortly after I got home Monday night, I turned on the evening news…and proceeded to laugh hysterically for the next hour. After the obligatory three or four stories about the drought (have they interviewed every cattle farmer in mid-South Dakota?), they turned to their other recurring non-story – the so-called “trouble area” just west of downtown Sioux Falls.
Instead of the other dozen stories they’ve already aired on this issue, their goofy reporter didn’t just hang out with the cops to file their story. He ventured into the “hood” to interview some actual “peeps”, who told him tales and tales of loud, drunk neighbors who have ruined the peace and quiet of their once-quaint neighborhood.
After finishing the piece, the camera went back to the reporter who was stationed in the “Crisis Center”. (Remember, if the weather cubicles are the “Storm Center”, then the adjoining area must be called the “Crisis Center”.) We were then told that the filming had to be cut short as a couple of drunks interrupted their work, threatening the reporter and shoving the cameraman as they attempted to flee.
I have one word to say about this incident – bahahahaha! That’s what should have been filmed! I’ll bet it wasn’t unlike that episode of Andy Griffith where tough guy Barney was forced to flee from the mysterious stranger played by the future boyfriend of Alice from the Brady Bunch. I just hope the cameraman involved in the incident was not one of the good guys. (Believe it or not, there are a couple of people in that building who don’t hate me.)
Can we be real for just a second? Sure, the area in question is one of the poorer sections of town, and there are certainly some problems with some of the rental properties. Yet one can’t in any capacity call that area a ghetto. It’s not northern Minneapolis; it’s not even downtown Redfield. The targeting of that area by the police has more to do with the ethnic makeup of the residents than any real increase in violence and drugs. I don’t see similar publicity-driven raids in other sections of town that house mainly white people of the same tax bracket.
If there is truly a rise in crime in the area, maybe our city leaders should take a look at what they’ve helped create. What was once an area of locally-owned businesses and single-family homes has become nothing but rundown rental homes, casinos, pawn shops, and payday loan sharks. Instead of making a show of having patrol cars wandering the neighborhood looking for open containers, maybe the city could come up with some positive ideas to help re-energize the area. Maybe the city show offer some incentives for landlords to encourage them to fix up their buildings, or come up with some ideas to help bring cool shops. If that old area on 8th Street by the railroad tracks can be fixed up then it should be no problem to improve what was once known as the Loop.
I’ve said this a few times before, but I’ll say it one more time today. All things considered, Sioux Falls is a remarkably safe city. There are smaller towns in this state that I believe are less safe.
Sioux Falls is so safe that there is not a section of town or an individual street that I would not feel comfortable walking at any time of the day or night. Yes, bad things happen, and may even be more likely to happen at the area in question, but almost every city in the country would love their media and police department to be forced to create crime areas that don’t really exist.


Anonymous said…
You and the media both are sorta right and sorta wrong. I have lived in the neighborhood in question for five years now. When I moved here, the neighborhood was full of old people in single family houses, a few college students, a few immigrants, etc. They're virtually all gone. This neighborhood has gone downhill in the last year or so - there's no way of denying that. And it's not a funny joke, when you have neighbors using meth, other neighbors getting in knife fights, etc. Obviously, we don't have the problems of Minneapolis or even maybe Sioux City, but to dismiss the seriousness of what's going on here is kind of silly too.

I think gentrifying the area with "cool shops" is probably not the answer either. By and large, people live here because they can't afford to live elsewhere - where will they go?
Anonymous said…
You know, there didn't used to be these types of problems when kids drove the loop. At least you didn't hear of them anyway. Thanks Munson and council!

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