In October of 2011 I spent an afternoon on my bicycle touring my neighborhood, the International District, seeking the beauty and the ugliness of it all. The International District was given its name in 2009, after decades of duress in which it was known as “The War Zone”. Of course where there is much poverty one usually finds much ugliness. But in reality on that afternoon I also discovered a great amount of beauty. This photo of a tire shop on Louisiana and Zuni illustrates the beauty found in the ID.
Now almost three years later and “deeper in debt”, as the old song says, I see my city and my neighborhood deteriorating around me. Every day there is another murder or swat situation or fugitive chase or dumped dead body or… or… or. Desperation of the people slipping deeper and deeper into poverty and drug addiction increases coupled with an ever increasing militarization of the police.
Six and a half years into the Republican administration of Susana Martinez and New Mexico has been swept down to 49th in terms of economic growth and well-being. Oh and let’s not forget the ongoing attack on public education. Adding to the perfect storm of poverty and ignorance consider the closure of mental health clinics a few years ago which left people with serious mental issue with nowhere to go for help.
On Wednesday there was a swat situation in the neighborhood. It began with an early morning carjacking in the Northeast Heights (supposedly “safe” neighborhood), followed by a car chase. The police and the criminals raced through town, first touring the Southwest and finally ending in the Southeast about 4 blocks from my house. Here the carjackers abandoned the car and ran into a tire shop.
Yep, that’s the same tire shop from my photo illustrating the beauty of the neighborhood. This screen shot of a KOAT video shows my beauty spot in a completely different light. The War Zone is too often truly the War Zone.
But unfortunately the war zone is much much larger than the pre-conceived notion – it seems to be surrounding the whole world. How have we gotten to this state of continual war and violence”. How has my neighborhood, my city, my town, my country become a place of such unending violence and desperation?