Monday, April 11, 2011

11 APR 11: Downtown and Dirty

The last time I went running at the start of the day was 31 Dec 10. First it was too cold, then my schedule did not allow it -- but Sunday morning it was time. The loud talking of neighbors outside my open window was all the "alarm clock" I needed....

Given the warm, humid conditions, the run was OK - 1.1 miles non-stop. I might have gone farther, but a chance to turn off Dillingham Street behind the Columbus State University RiverPark area was denied by a temporary fence. No, accused attackers were NOT on the other side clamoring for freedom.

Morning runs in the downtown area tend to be peaceful and uneventful. But this weekend proved the predawn hours can be dangerous. Two attacks within two blocks of each other left six people injured, six people under arrest -- and the nearest hockey game to blame was a good mile away.

Columbus Police say four Fort Benning soldiers attacked a driver on Tenth Street near the Government Center early Saturday. A fifth soldier reportedly only watched the beating, but was arrested for not reporting it to authorities. Was he resting for a combatants competition or something?

It's not clear what led to the beating, but the charges suggest two of the accused soldiers may have been drunk. And you simply do not tease a drunken soldier about losing paychecks in a possible government shutdown.

About 24 hours later, a Phenix City man reportedly drove to the 1000 block of Broadway and fired shots at four people. WTVM reported it happened outside Mario's restaurant. WRBL reported it occurred "next door to the Columbus State University bookstore." Hmmmm -- which TV station needs every advertiser it can keep these days?

One woman who says she was beaten by the soldiers admits she's scared to go downtown anymore. Yet police reportedly have increased their presence in that area on weekend nights. It's enough to bring calls for an "escort service" downtown -- only this one would be staffed with muscular bouncers.

Yet it seems there's an easy way to avoid becoming caught in these downtown attacks. Simply leave Broadway and First Avenue early. Both weekend incidents occurred well after midnight -- and as former pro football coach Tony Dungy likes to say, few good things happen after midnight. Anyone who's worked long stints on an overnight shift knows this too well....

There are other steps downtown businesses could take, in the wake of the weekend violence. Is it time to consider ending alcohol sales on Broadway earlier - perhaps at 12:00 midnight, instead of 3:00 a.m.? And shouldn't at least one law office in the Historic District stay open around the clock?

One downtown event which could be affected by the weekend attacks is the Frogtown Hollow Bluegrass Jam. That was the reason for the fencing along Dillingham Street. While the party included hot air balloon rides and people on stilts, organizers were wise enough NOT to set up a climbing wall to allow freeloaders practice.

The violence happened well after the Frogtown Hollow Bluegrass Jam ended for the night. Yet there could be some guilt by association - even though a martial arts display only lasted 15 minutes Friday evening.

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E-MAIL UPDATE: A message titled "Rapper's Delight" indicated one reader could relate to our Friday topic. But....


If your readers take your April 8th advice on trying the Courier to read a review on rappers appear at Spring Fling I think they will be very disappointed. Actually, you seem to know a lot about Tung Twista and Waka Flocka Flame not to be into rap or rappers. You certainly know more about them than I do or anyone I know. Never the less, the Courier is not a source for the latest rap news and reviews, but does cover and uncover stories that others in the Columbus news media either do not know about or refuse to report. To each his own they say. It is certainly a free country, which is truly the beauty of it all. Say hi to Flocka and Twista for me.

Be well,

Brother Love, Director

Grassroots Unity Movement for Change

All I know about those rap stars is what I heard on National Public Radio or found on Wikipedia. Otherwise, I might have guessed "Waka Flocka Flame" was a chicken dish at Outback Steakhouse.

But hold on -- why not add "rap-ups" to The Courier? That tabloid used to have "Courier Cuties" in each issue. Why wait a month to see if Playgrounds Magazine even showed up at the concert? And why wait for mug shots of arrested performers to appear first in The Joint?

I'm holding one other e-mail until calls can be made about it - so let's see what else made news over the weekend:

+ Britt David Park hosted a "kickball for the cure" event to fight women's cancer. Isn't it amazing how this grade-school game has gained such a following among young adults? Maybe I should prepare for the next wave, and corner the market on tetherballs.

+ Oxbow Meadows held its annual "Reptile Fest," including a "Hiss Columbus Pageant" for lizard owners. Set those contestants loose in the middle of a Miss Georgia rehearsal, and you'll have the ultimate test of poise.

+ Augusta edged the Columbus Cottonmouths 3-2 to win the decisive third game of their hockey semifinal series. After a slow start to the season, the Snakes would up winning their first playoff series in several years. But I guess it's too late now to challenge the Atlanta Thrashers for the title, "Second-Best Hockey
Team in Georgia."

+ The Columbus Lions came from behind and kicked a last-second field goal to edge Fayetteville 29-28. The opponent for next Saturday night has changed to Mobile Bay, because Lafayette suspended its season due to a lack of workers' compensation insurance. Aw c'mon - real football players fight through pain, instead of filling out forms at a doctor's office.

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