Alyson Chadwick

Writer・Editor・Strategist・Comedian・Activist

A city under siege

I feel like I have seen this movie before

Today, a man set off two smoke bombs in Brooklyn. Opened fire and spit out 33 rounds into passengers commuting to work. After the train was cleared, police found three extended ammunition magazines, consumer-grade fireworks, a hatchet and a jug of gasoline. Twenty people were injured, some critically. It is amazing no one was killed.

This incident comes as violent crimes across the city and MTA system rise. A lot of people compared what happened today to 9/11. Early reports were that it might have been an act of domestic terrorism so it really makes sense to be reminded of that awful day.

Of course, it’s something I think about often now that I am back. Growing up on Long Island, I used the World Trade Center as my point of reference to get around the city. To this day, I do that and have gotten lost more times than I would like to admit. It’s kind of pathetic to get lost in your home city.

The current crime wave hitting the city and the attack this morning reminds me of the New York City I knew when I was a kid. It was seedy and dangerous. Then, Mayor David Dinkins and Disney remade the place. I don’t think we will go back to those times but it is hard to see where we are headed.

Today, I had an amazing day walking around Stony Brook. I worked out of a cafe in the Village. I got more creative writing done than I have all year.

Yet, looking at the blue sky, I thought of Ukraine. Myanmar. The Uyghurs in China. Paul Rusesabagina falsely imprisoned in Rwanda.

Why are someone’s rights to own a gun more important than mine to stay alive? Someone told me that it was because of the Second Amendment. So the Second Amendment trumps the Declaration of Independence? Don’t I have the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?”

I want to think something has happened to us. Something has happened to make us hate each other so much. But whatever hatred we are seeing now it’s not new. It’s just been hidden. As long as people we had oppressed since 1619 stayed ok with it — or rather, didn’t get “uppity,” things were good. Sure we subjected millions with slavery for hundreds of years and then the Jim Crow laws for another hundred and continue to use systems made by white men to keep white men in power. Even if people in the system are not racist, it doesn’t matter because the system is. Every single white person in America benefits from white privilege.

A person I went to junior high school with commented on a post about BLM protesters with this, “We will treat you like humans when you act like humans.” When you can look at another person and think you have the right to dictate what is and is not human behavior, you are proving my point. This person is not alone in thinking that. This is the attitude we have to change.