If you walked by New Haven Green on August 15, you might have seen a lot of emergency vehicles responding to an overdose crisis. You might have seen even more TV journalists and their sweaty camerapersons reporting on this terrible story. However, in their solemn tone, you could tell from the weird grin on their faces they were delighted to broadcasting to the world once more that New Haven is such a dangerous city.
First, I don’t want to play devil’s advocate but working in retail is hard! Why are we blaming the seller? It’s not their fault they have such a great marketing strategy attracting a large client base!
If Frank Pepe’s were to leave their clams outside the fridge from a hot second in summer, I cannot imagine how many more people would need emergency care! (I would argue some might deserve it… Who stay in line for a pizza at 8:50 am on a Tuesday when the place does not open until 10:30 am? I’m sorry, not the point!)
To get back to New Haven bad rep, I moved to the city in 2014 from Marseille, France to work in the infamous university that starts with a Y. I know what you guys are thinking now: “Yet another annoying Yalie who writes about New Haven… and worse of all, that one is French. At least when Josh Levinson writes the blog posts, we have good syntax…”. Yes, you are right but stay with me.
I would argue that Marseille has a very similar problem to New Haven. People in France and in the media love to look down on this city and keep really detailed statistics on how many crimes (arm and drug trafficking, gang violence, murder, corruption… pick your favorite) happened in the city since the beginning of the month.
The city is often pictured like an out-of-control place, that we should not visit, unless you are in the market for a Kalashnikov. Yes, extremely violent crimes happen, but baddies often have the good taste of keeping the killing to themselves.
If you are thinking of visiting, and you are not part of a gang, you would be more than fine! It’s very cute and Marseillais (people living in Marseille) are nothing like those rude-ass Parisians. To give you perspective, Marseillais are Minnesota nice, and Parisians are Bostonians.
So when I told my American friend I was moving to New Haven, he told me it was an extremely dangerous city and I should make sure I was in a safe neighborhood. So I went online and looked my future hometown up. The first site that came up during my search informed me New Haven has a crime rate of 5. “Not bad” I thought, before realizing it was out of 100, 100 begin the safest… And then the website details other fancy maps and statistics before displaying my favorite stat:
First, I love the fact that the website thinks being victim of a violent crime is a chance. It’s crime, neighborhoodscout.com, not the Mohegan Sun! Second, I love the use of all caps. In the table on top of the page, “number of crime” is in lowercase, but your chances are in all caps. It’s MY CHANCES to be assaulted violently, it’s so personal.
Also, how does this work? I am getting VIOLENTLY CRIMED if I am the 106th walking on Chapel Street, or if I am the 106th to move in the city after the last violent crime happened?
This website is obviously playing on the fear of the unknown, in hope that you will call their affiliated realtor agents to buy/rent a house in a “safe” neighborhood. But I am not blaming them. Yale does the same thing.
During my job orientation at HR, they showed us a map of New Haven, drew a box (Georges, Howe, Willow and State Streets) and told us to never go outside of it because it’s dangerous. But to be fair, when you are struggling to get by, and you see a bunch of rich summer program kids having “too much bills to fit in my wallet” (real thing I heard outside of Ashley’s), the discrepancy between lifestyle (one struggles to eat, the other one struggles to match their JCrew shirt with their Gant blazer) it encourages crime.
This discussion should change, and Yale has the power to do so. I believe initiatives and actions to empower neighborhood communities in New Haven is a more effective way to reduce crime than a mandatory frightening PowerPoint presentation with sad Cliparts.
New Haven is erroneously seen as a tiny New England town, as the real version of Stars Hollow, but is in fact a big city, with big city problems. We should all act accordingly, and be mindful of people less lucky than us (you are reading Between Two Rocks, you are probably well off, don’t come for me!). I once saw someone at a coffee shop put their iPhone on top of a table to “save” their spot while they were ordering out of sight of the table.
I am usually a nice guy but I stole it just to prove a point.