Positive Loitering

Someone posting on a Laurel District neighborhood-watch listserv described how, as her son was walking to World Grounds Cafe around 7 a.m. on Sept. 24, some ten African-American males “about 16 to 22 crossed the street and threatened him with a knife asking for his wallet.”

This posting on the listserv sparked a “take back the streets” discussion, with locals vowing to become a more visible presence on their own streets. Thus, others added, non-menacing locals should create more of a visible presence. They called this concept “positive loitering.”

“I see a lot of questionable hanging out by the young men in the neighborhood,” one local business owner wrote. “Sometimes I see things that are suspicious, most of the time they’re standing around talking. On the one hand they don’t appear to be doing anything, on the other when they’re standing at the bus stop or on the corner people are hesitant to come into my store.”

The hangers-out, laments this local, “know what kind of impression they make and I believe they enjoy the bit of power they have … if the boulevard is only populated by young guys in white T-shirts it’s far harder to create a safe, supportive community.”

Another opined: “We need MORE people on macarthur. We need MORE people walking on high st. See & be seen.”


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