Monday, July 23, 2007

The Single Mothers and Children...are Used to the Indifference of the Authorities

J. Pat Carter/Associated Press New York Times

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., July 16 — The single mothers and children who fill most of the apartments at Dunbar Village — a housing project on the poor, black, north side of this city — are used to nightly gunfire. They are used to theft, assault, murder and the indifference of federal and local authorities.

Citoya Greenwood has asked officials to take action at Dunbar Village, the site of the attack, where she lives with her daughter, Joya.

After dark on June 18, the police say, as many as 10 armed assailants repeatedly raped a Haitian immigrant in her apartment at Dunbar Village and then went further, forcing her to perform oral sex on her 12-year-old son. They took cellphone pictures of their acts. They burned the woman’s skin and the boy’s eyes with cleaning fluid, forced them to lie naked together in the bathtub, hit them with a broom and a gun and threatened to set them on fire.

Neighbors did not respond to her screams, and no one called the police. The victims ended up walking a mile to the nearest hospital afterward.

[On Wednesday, a grand jury indicted Avion Lawson, 14; Jakaris Taylor, 15; and Nathan Walker, 16, on charges in connection with the case that include eight counts of sexual battery by multiple perpetrators, two counts of kidnapping and one count of promoting sexual performance by a child. The three teenagers, who will be tried as adults, face life in prison if convicted.]

The police have said that Mr. Lawson’s DNA was found in a condom at the crime scene.

The people of Dunbar Village are petrified, furious and doubtful that even such a savage crime will bring about change. West Palm Beach — “a city of unsurpassed beauty,” its Web site says — has eagerly permitted luxury condominiums and revitalized neighborhoods for the rich and middle class. But the north side, where steady violence has pushed up the city’s crime rate, continues to languish.

“They keep promising, promising, promising,” said Citoya Greenwood, who lives four doors down from the attack victims, who have since moved away. “Nothing is getting done.”

Ms. Greenwood, 33, is one of the few Dunbar Village residents speaking openly about the attacks. Others agreed to be interviewed but would not give their names, fearing consequences. The police said many had shrunk away from their questions, a longstanding problem in the neighborhood.

On Monday, Ms. Greenwood attended a city meeting where she implored the mayor and commissioners not to forget what happened.

“Just stop by and see what goes on there,” she said, “and you’ll see how I have to live and how my daughter has to live every day.”

Laurel Robinson, executive director of the West Palm Beach Housing Authority, said that even before the attack, the agency had decided to allow only a single entrance for cars at Dunbar Village and to install a “panoramic security camera” with a direct feed to the police department. The camera will allow the police to monitor most of the 17-acre property, Ms. Robinson said.

Cars will need an electronic device to open the gate at night, she said, but there is no way to stop people from entering on foot. As dismal as the conditions are at Dunbar Village, she said, more than 700 families are on a waiting list for housing there and at four other projects in West Palm Beach.

Mayor Lois Frankel said improving Dunbar Village and the surrounding neighborhood was “high on my radar screen,” ideally by replacing the complex with mixed-income housing. But Ms. Frankel said the city had already tried to address problems there, adding, “It would not be accurate to say that these people live in an enclave of neglect.”

The housing authority is financed by the federal government, and has repeatedly failed to win a federal grant that would have allowed the demolition of Dunbar Village and relocation of its 300 residents. Four years ago, Congress eliminated $165,000 a year that paid for extra policing at the city’s housing projects as a part of a national cutback in housing money.

"That’s going to be scarred in my mind forever,” the neighbor said, her voice rising, before driving off with her daughter. “I could have never, ever believed that would happen six doors down from me.”

Outside another unit, Calvin Jones, 71, said he would leave with his 13-year-old granddaughter this weekend. They came to Dunbar Village from Gulfport, Miss., after Hurricane Katrina, Mr. Jones said, and now they were going back — though with no home.

"If you knew that happened,” he asked, “would you stay here?”

Abridged,Titled and Edited for E.A. Read entire article here >>


At he expense of sounding like a broken record. When are we going to stop protecting the abusers and stop predator from walking the streets, how many more victims before we stop protecting the predators and protect the victims.

When are we going to start to get tough on child molesters, elder abusers and their enablers in government?

How many have to die or become incapacitated from their injuries? How many is enough?

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