LONSBERRY: Rochester- Home of the Downtown Beat Down

We’re Rochester, New York, where if you can’t watch the latest downtown beat down from your luxury skyscraper condo, you can catch it on Facebook Live.

               Or look out the window of your newsroom or police station.

               That’s the story this week as we are reminded who rules the streets in this town. Four teenagers in front of the bus station – a half a block from the focus of Rochester’s downtown redevelopment – decide to make a video of themselves beating the hell out of a guy.

               He seems to have been guilty of walking while white, and that earned him some snickers and some whispers and a roundhouse sucker punch to the back of the head.

               Which is no big deal, because that’s only randomly fatal.

               The guy goes down but he staggers back up and they circle around, taunting, and in a moment of questionable moral and tactical judgment, he calls them the n-word.

               That’s when they unload on him.

               More specifically, they unload on his head.

               And they seemed to be wearing a better brand of Nikes than Zion Williamson, because the head gave out long before the stomping did.

               All of which transpired live on Facebook, with associated hooting and hollering, and blasé inaction by bored onlookers at the bus station.

               This was at Main and Clinton, and just a bit north on Clinton.

               Directly in front of the Downtown Section office of the Rochester Police Department, where there are pictures of cops in the window and a giant painting of a badge and the biblical reference that, “Blessed are the peacemakers.”

               That’s where this guy’s blood splattered across the sidewalk.

               Which says a little bit about the way the police department is seen in this town. Hated, but not feared, and respect does not factor into the equation. But they’re making good progress on the police-oversight board, and I think the brass is playing board games at the rec center this afternoon, and they’re furiously hoping for another video of a cop playing basketball with a kid.

                But beyond that, the streets belong to the bad guys, and the downtown beat down proves that.

               A random gang assault at Main and Clinton, diagonally across the intersection from the soon-to-be-vacant offices of what used to be the local newspaper. Probably nobody saw, though, because they were busy scouring 50-year-old yearbooks from local colleges for virtue-signaling opportunities. Nothing enhances self-importance like self-righteousness.

               Maybe the paper should review some of its own content from back then. Funny how the people in the ads for new subdivisions are all white and the people in the ads for new stoves are all female – in perfect dresses with pointy boobs.

               But that’s about the blindness of yesterday, this is about the blindness of today.

               The blindness of a city administration that can’t control its own Main Street.

               This week’s downtown beat down took place in the shadow of the Sibley Building, a massive black hole that sucks New York tax dollars into the pockets of Massachusetts developers.

               Must be they weren’t playing the classical music loud enough.

               And must be the various taxpayer-subsidized campaign-contributing developers of downtown, with their seemingly endless call for high-end condos in the empty hulks of once-busy office buildings, believe their future tenants don’t know how to use Google.

               Because all these high-income millennials wanting to overpay for cramped skyscraper pads might be put off by the notion that people are being gang assaulted outside their door. And before they bury themselves in ridiculous debt for the privilege of walking their dog on an Astroturfed rooftop, they might try to get a sense of the neighborhood.

               And my hunch is this isn’t the type of urban experience they were looking for.

               My hunch is they were hoping there would be a little more gentrification in their gentrification.

               And how a city that is staking its downtown core on the dream of high-density rich-people occupancy can let this sort of violence continue unchecked is beyond me.

               If the city and its police department can’t even secure the streets of its downtown to protect taxpayer investments now totaling hundreds of millions of dollars, then what hope do Joe and Betty Rochester have out in the neighborhoods? As the bus station continues to be the stabbing-of-the-month club, why is it that security on and around that premise can’t be achieved?

               Can a city that once posted a police officer at Four Corners not figure out the advisability of posting a police officer at the bus station?

               Not to be rude or disrespectful, but when this crap is happening in your downtown, your letter grade is WTF.

               And the corrective measure is: Get off your ass.

               Is this embarrassing? Yes. Not that I have written something, but that some hump can’t walk down your street without getting his head bashed in.

               In response, the chief has statistics. “Everything is Awesome” plays in the background. If only statistics were steel plates, we could bolt them into the victim’s head to try and rebuild his face.

               The question boils down to: Who rules the streets of Rochester?

               The answer isn’t law and order and the blue and whites.

               It’s thugs on Facebook Live.

               Rochester, New York. The home of the downtown beat down.

               Come visit, but you better wear a helmet.


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