kitchen table


Ralph “Bucky” Phillips & a comment on the coverage
September 11, 2006, 1:30 pm
Filed under: Buffalo, City life, Racism

I work in politics so the past week has been anything but quiet. The Primary is tomorrow and I dreamt somewhere in there of posting about the industry of Election Products and Services (everything from bumper stickers to nail files to GOTV paid canvassers). No time though now, no time.

I do want to comment on the Ralph Phillips fever that has shook Western New York. For those of you fortunate enough to not know about the case, here’s a little background: Ralph “Bucky” Phillips escaped from jail in April, has been hiding out on the loose, shot a few state troopers throughout his run (one ended up dying), and was finally surrounded and caught last Friday night. Here in Buffalo, all of three of the local networks cut in to their regularly scheduled programs for over four hours
so that breaking news and press conferences could be aired on a moment’s notice.

Fine, it was a big story. Even made front page of the New York Times. What I’d like to comment on though are the countless number of white, rural folks interviewed by the news cameras who, through tears, told us all how happy they are to return to a normal, safe life. One man, during last night’s 11 o’clock news, said he was glad that he and his neighbors could go back to, “not locking our doors when we run out to the store.”

I’m glad for them, sincerely, but I cannot help but wonder why the press isn’t staking out the East Side of Buffalo. This is the area of the city where most of the year’s 54 or more homicides have taken place. This is the area of the city where innocent residents are most at danger, where children literally can’t play outside without fearing stray bullets. Where’s the uproar here? Is this not a story?

Update: While writing this post, I read a couple pieces over at the Buffalo News on the Phillips case. Ever willing to say something ridiculous, columnist Mary Kunz Goldman has suggested punishing people who “even associate” with a gang as a means to combat crime. Although I appreciate that she made the same connections between the Hunt for Phillips and the wave of violence in the city, I don’t think that turning our city into a police state is going to create the kind of peace we desire.

I want guys with camo and guns in front of my house. I want roadblocks and helicopters,” she says. Yikes.

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