These Massive Dark Streets

“Home sweet home” can be defined as a person’s own peaceful place or a releasing of comfort after a heavy day. But what happens if the surroundings don’t make it so “sweet,” when all that is heard outside your steps is a bunch of chaos or being witness to the loss of family members because of gang violence or a bullet hitting the wrong person. Would you be able to feel that comfort you planned on having, or would you be worried about being the next victim of a crime scene?

“The combinations of many different cultures and beliefs would be one of the few issues that make problems in our neighborhood,” says Sylvia, 47, who has lived in Mott Haven for the past 25 Years.

As the community of Mott Haven (South Bronx) has grown and developed, there has been a major change for the neighbors living in the community.

“Throughout the years I have seen violence as a way of fixing issues or problems within the gang activity and the youth,” says Police Police Officer Ramirez. A couple of people predicted the neighborhood would successfully decrease the violence, but others are not sure.

“I am really looking for another place to live because I just can’t be living a neighborhood where me or my kids have to be aware of our surroundings or just wanting to have problems with my son who is only 15 years old,” says a women who prefers to keep her name unknown.

“Does an appearance of how a person is dressed make a start for a brutal beat down?” she added.

Some people in the community think there has to be some type of gang activity when it comes to teenager’s appearance.

Many people can’t rely on being safe around the streets of Mott Haven gang actions.

“I was once included in all those problems. When boys from different hoods would come to my block, my brothers and I would just call for all of us to gather and would just start a big fight in the middle of the streets. We didn’t care who was around but we just had to attack because we had to get our respect,” said Roger. As he grew up he was a witness to a family member getting brutally beaten, which caused him to get into a brutal incident himself. He was only 17 years old. Roger now is 29 and has been on a wheelchair for the past 12 years.

Most of this people being affected by these bad behaviors are gang members themselves, and many in the neighborhood worry that those actions will affect the future generation.

“My friend dropped out of school and is now in the streets all the time with his so called ‘boys.’ I tried so many times talking to him to return to school, but is just a waste of time. Worst of all I think he is using drugs already,” says a young girl who prefers to hide her identity.

The majority of the teens affected are boys who don’t have a good education or are under bad influences. Many also use drugs, and some simply want to drop out of school and go into the business of selling drugs. The massive use of weapons has been a problems this past few months and “hard beating” has gotten the attention of many community members who want to find a way for it to stop.