(Submitted to Syracuse.com May 4, 2015)
To the editor:
Downtown Syracuse hosted some great events this past weekend, including the Mountain Goat Run, the Crawfish Clam Fest, beggars on highway off-ramps, riff-raff accosting passers-by, and a kid on a bike who tried to mug my wife.
Admittedly, these last three aren’t great, but they are certainly commonplace. I work downtown and see, smell and get hit up by beggars regularly. And trust me, these folks truly are beggars — the same scam artists day in and day out preying on the well-intentioned.
I feel safer in Midtown Manhattan than in downtown Syracuse. Why? Because New York City police arrest loiters, beggars, and anyone making a public nuisance. Yes, there are troubled and homeless folks among these crowds, but we have many places in walking distance of Salina and Fayette that can accommodate them with meals, shelter and other meaningful assistance.
Why, then, do Syracuse leaders and police look the other way? When, pray tell, will they take seriously the real threat to safety and commerce the persistence of these riff-raff represent? Lots of good is happening downtown; with a little firmer hand, it could be great.