The white elephant on the avenue

David Forbes' Dec. 5 piece, “No Easy Answers: Lexington Avenue's Uncertain Future,” accurately and fairly framed many of the issues troubling downtown these days. I’m grateful that so much of my professional life and private friendships play out in such a beautiful environment. I was glad to see crack use and overt prostitution replaced by more decent activities.

I admire my landlord, love my building and have warm feelings for many of my neighbors. Some of them own businesses while others are probably homeless. We don't discuss our private lives, but manage to maintain respectful, symbiotic relationships. I don't want to see people with limited resources pushed out of the public eye. I think this is the general sentiment of many people in these neighborhoods.

However, these new hard drugs and aggressive, transient men have become a white elephant in the room. In the last few months the women in my building have had interactions with men who appeared to be extremely drug-addled and mentally ill in dangerous ways. This behavior was presenting itself in ways we quietly understood to be sexually menacing. For many months, clusters of men seemed to be running wild through town, fully aware that there are no consequences for their behavior. It has left reasonable, adult women at a loss for how to comport themselves —  in the daytime or the evening

We responded to it, as women frequently do, by internalizing it, feeling ashamed and remaining quiet. I think this is because if we articulated what was going on it meant that it was actually happening.

I would hate for decent business owners who have put so much work into cleaning up the area to be financially affected by that kind of media. On the other hand, ignoring the escalating and erratic behavior of some of these men downtown isn't doing anyone any favors. It really needs to be addressed.

I appreciated Capt. Tim Splain's candor in the article. Most women are not cracking under the pressure of simple “hey baby” cat calls, but being called a "f—king c-nt" is decidedly more threatening. These men need to understand that there are boundaries within the culture, and that the police take this kind of menacing and sexually demeaning behavior seriously. I appreciate the honest and rational dialogue we are having about this situation.

— Rebecca MacNeice
Asheville

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