Article Comment 

Garthia Elena Burnett: City not so friendly anymore?


Garthia Elena Burnett



If you''ve had your ear to the grapevine over the past couple years, you''d think Columbus could be featured on an episode of "Gangland." 


They could start on Northside, where the prostitutes and crack houses rule the streets, so I''ve heard. Then, you can pretty much move on to the school of your choice. There, you''ll find prescription drugs run rampant, and being in a gang is a way of life, despite zero-tolerance policies. Again, this is all hearsay. 


Columbus police acknowledge there is a gang problem -- or at least a gang "nuisance," as Lt. John Duke puts it. Specifically, local gangs are the Black Guerilla Family, the Vice Lords, who are mainly on Northside and associate themselves with the color red, and the Black Gangster Disciples, who are mainly on Southside and associate themselves with blue. 


BGF, Duke told the 2010 Citizens'' Police Academy class Monday night, are the largest problem, easily numbering at least more than 300. Their membership is in areas around Sim-Scott and Propst parks, 14th Avenue North and MLK Drive, Sandfield, off Yorkville in the areas of Applewood and Springs Terrace and Burns Bottom, Duke said. 


But only a handful of these gang members -- about 2 percent -- are serious, "trigger-pulling" bangers. This 2 percent leads the groups in gang activity -- burglaries, robberies and shootings. 


And there''s bad news for those who want to stereotype Northside as a hub of drugs and sex for sale. 


"You can buy cocaine on any street corner in Columbus," Lt. Eddie Hawkins of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics said. "It''s that rampant." 


Prostitution also is no isolated crime. It happens anywhere there are clubs, said Duke, noting clubs mean easy access to potential customers. 


The biggest problem, not just in Lowndes County but across the state is meth. 


This year alone, there have been 308 meth labs discovered in Mississippi, 11 in the last week. Last year, there were more than 600 labs discovered. For the past two years, Lowndes County has led the state in meth. 


Hawkins believes new state legislation requiring a prescription for cold-relief medicines ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, precursors to methamphetamine, is the solution to the state''s meth problem. Oregon passed a like law in 2006, he noted; three years later, they discovered only 10 meth labs, seven of which were dump sites. Meth cooks had gone into Oregon from other states to get rid of the materials they used to cook the dope. 


The state''s meth registry, limiting the amount of ephedrine- or pseudoephedrine-containing medicines a person can buy, hasn''t even put a dent in the problem, Hawkins said. 


Incidentally, the city''s gang and drug activity both have close ties to Atlanta. 


Being in the Citizens'' Police Academy has been enlightening. There''s been one recurring theme: Columbus has all the same problems as the big cities; they''re just not as frequent and on a smaller scale. 


This is nothing new; crime happens everywhere. 


Still, prompted by a perceived spike in crime, many will sleep with one eye open and be leery of every "suspicious" character they see. 


A gentleman joked a few weeks ago, "I''m scared of everyone who isn''t just like me; aren''t you?" 


"Of course. Isn''t everyone?" I replied, being facetious. 


Fortunately, most of us have the common sense to separate hype from reality. 


Columbus Police Chief Joseph St. John understands the need to draw a line between local lore and hard facts. 


"I do not believe that perception is reality," St. John said when introducing himself to the 2010 Citizens'' Police Academy class in March. "Perception is perception. Reality is reality." 


While Columbus has its problems, it''s no Atlanta, New Orleans or New York. 


I, personally, would like to believe we live in a relatively safe area. 


A passing stranger will help an older woman who has fallen at the post office. 


Concerned onlookers will call the police when they see a 10-year-old walking busy streets by himself. 


Neighbors will offer a friendly courtesy call when your garage door is left open and you''re not at home. 


An elderly widow will offer your children a phone and a cookie when they''ve locked themselves out of the house. 


And a guy just driving by will pick up a hitchhiker with a sketchy story and try to find him a place to sleep. 


But, in all honesty, I still lock and bolt my door, even in broad daylight.



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Reader Comments

Article Comment Betty commented at 5/5/2010 7:08:00 PM:

I see no one has even bothered to comment on this artical! I can see why. There is no way you can describe the crazyness that appears in this unbelievable artical. what I read: protstutes on every corner, drugs sold at will, meth labs in ever alley, crack houses every block and the police know where and when but it still goes on. You have got to be kidding. Who and why would you print this (and with the help of the police. UNREAL !! It is hard to comment on something this outrageous. Mr Higgins may be on to something. I hope he stays on all the powers to be until it is cleaned up. Look around and smell the trash !!


Article Comment catfishlips commented at 5/6/2010 8:30:00 AM:

So where is the party being held to celebrate that only 2% of the gang members here are "trigger pullers"? I myself figured it to be more like 3 or 4 percent, but why split hairs?

The really funny part about the articles is the cavalier attitude about crime in general, almost as if to say "hey, there are those days when you can cross town without being a victim so it's all good".

No one wants to talk about what the problem "really is". They prefer to ignore that part as it isn't PC to say it. And the problem will blame its behaviors on everyone else except the person who is actually to blame.

For a small town, we sure do seem to have a lot of shootings, murders, robbery, and other foolishness. It must be the weather. Surely it isn't the citizens.


Article Comment fiveO commented at 5/6/2010 12:59:00 PM:

If you guys can't see the sarcasm in what she wrote on certain areas then you need to reread the article. What she is saying is that the perception is that there are narcotics, prostitution, and gang bangers on every corner and on every street. The reality is that it's not the case. Columbus is not all doom and gloom no matter how bad you want to gripe at police and blame all the city's problems on us.


Article Comment Pubsnub commented at 5/6/2010 8:42:00 PM:

It sure seems like she was trying to be sarcastic doesn't it? But, then she quotes the CPD officer who says we can buy cocaine on every street corner in the city. Which is it?

To catfishlips - Just as a little experiment, check out the pictures in the felony arrest report in the Packet throughout the next couple of weeks. It normally averages out so that 50% of those arrested are white and 50% are black.


Article Comment five0 commented at 5/6/2010 9:10:00 PM:

The officer who made the comment is not a CPD officer. He is a Lt. for the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics and his office is in Jackson. Although he is knowledgeable of the problems in Columbus, he spoke a little out of turn on that one. Drugs are available in the City of Columbus, no denying that, but it's not on every corner in town.


Article Comment RANDY commented at 5/6/2010 9:11:00 PM:

five: You reread it and tell us that it doesn't SUCK !!


Article Comment five0 commented at 5/7/2010 1:52:00 AM:

I thought I already had


Article Comment catfishlips commented at 5/7/2010 6:55:00 AM:

No one is blaming you 5-o, you are the line.

Pubsnub, those are the ones you know about and represents only a small fraction of reality.


Article Comment Pubsnub commented at 5/7/2010 11:33:00 AM:

catfishlips, I don't disagree with you. I think the people arrested by the city and county law enforcement are only a small percentage of the people breaking the law and causing trouble. It would stand to reason that if 50% of the people caught are white and 50% are black then the same percentages should apply to those who are not arrested. My point is that crimes are committed equally in our area by both blacks and whites. The nature of the crimes may be different, that's something else.


Article Comment JC commented at 5/7/2010 4:34:00 PM:

This editorial is all over the place. Thesis?


Article Comment dave commented at 5/7/2010 8:34:00 PM:

Botton Line: The Artical SUCKS. Why make a statement like she did? To be funny? There isn't anything funny about this.


Article Comment Deez commented at 5/8/2010 4:54:00 AM:

This article was written by the News Editor?
I've seen better Cole Slaw than this patchwork.
"For the past two years, Lowndes County has led the state in meth."
Meth what?
Show me comfirmed data.
Columbus averaged about 3 Personal crime incidents per 1,000 last year.
I wouldn't wipe my ARSE w/ the paper this story was written on this the worst P.O.S. since than that Dorroh troll who writes for this paper.
They must be married.


Article Comment catfishlips commented at 5/8/2010 7:02:00 AM:

Ok Pubsnub, now factor into the deal that blacks only make up some 39% of the MS population and you'll see that if your claim is correct they are causing a disproportionate amount of the crime. I.E. 50% of the crime is being caused by 39% of a particular population.

And I'm not even sure I agree with your 50% premise.


Article Comment Sharp Nasal Kent commented at 5/8/2010 9:16:00 AM:

catfishlips: Assume your figures are correct.

So what?

By which I mean, what is the conclusion you're approaching?



Article Comment eddie commented at 5/8/2010 4:46:00 PM:

I think the new paper should keep it's opinions to them self. I realy don't give a RAT's butt what you think !!!!!!!


Article Comment catfishlips commented at 5/9/2010 7:17:00 AM:

So what?? So what a minority is causing the majority of crime? So what? Really?


No, I'm more in favor of deportation. It would be very cost effective. After a predetermined number of "chances" to act right in society (and I'm not talking about parking tickets here) and convictions of more serious crimes, your backside is thrown out of the country never to return. Be it an island, or a jungle, whatever. If you don't want to act right here: get out.

I'm also in favor of shooting to kill on sight anyone who is a gang member.

Enough is enough.
Damn feeding, housing, clothing, and guarding the scum of society: kick their butts out. It will definitely cut down on repeat offenders.


Article Comment marvin commented at 5/9/2010 8:47:00 AM:

catfishlips: Now just how would you go about this. Our city Mayor has all of this under control. He has taken on some of the worst and beaten them down on the city hall steps. Do you not read the paper. He will clean this mess up. Just give him 4 or 5 more terms. You are in too big of a hurry. Time my "BRO" time. If it were not for councilman ___________ he would already have most of it done.


Article Comment reality commented at 5/9/2010 10:51:00 AM:

Catfishlips I agree name a city where the majority of its population is black and show me where people are just jumping to move to! Atlanta Memphis compton.


Article Comment Sharp Nasal Kent commented at 5/9/2010 3:29:00 PM:

So catfishlips is in favor of deporting black people en masse.

Funny how some things never change.


Article Comment sid commented at 5/9/2010 5:16:00 PM:



Article Comment S commented at 5/9/2010 5:49:00 PM:

Isn't the black to white population ration in Columbus nearly 50/50? If so catfishlips' hypothsis is shakey at best.


Article Comment Pubsnub commented at 5/9/2010 10:12:00 PM:

So... you would deport American citizens, and shoot people without due process. I'm part Italian part Scottish, would you chop me up and send some pieces to Italy and some to Scotland? Would you shoot me if i dressed the part of a gang member? Oops I'm not black never mind,

Please think about what you're saying


Article Comment catfishlips commented at 5/10/2010 7:21:00 AM:

No Kent, but it is funny how you tried to tie the two together. I didn't say a word about deporting blacks. I said deport criminals. I think you kinda let your cat out of your bag, didn't you Kent? I'm not surprised.

Let me make it real clear for you Kent: I am in favor of deporting anyone who is a career criminal. Damn feeding this fool, and damn putting up with them over and over.

Bottom line: if you can't act right in this country, go act a fool somewhere else. Black, white, purple: makes no difference to me.

Kent, what I find really funny about you is you seem to suffer some kind of memory loss or something. What did MLK say in that famous speech? To paraphrase: All my children would be judged by the content of their character instead of the color of their skin.

So when your character seems to have run off the highway and into a ditch, what am I suppose to do with these kind Kent? Pat them on the head? It wasn't the color I was judging Kent, but you certainly can't say the same based on your comment.

Hypothsis? I know you saw the red line under the word after you typed it. And the word is "ratio" goober. The population ratio last I saw it in MS was 61/39. I haven't seen stats for Columbus, and you can yell "ah hah" if that makes you feel better, but the fact is a minority is committing a majority of the crime. If you prefer to ignore it by keeping your head in the sand, be my guest.

Pubsnub, I'm not sure why you are having such a hard time wrapping what is left of your mind around what I am saying. Let's reverse the logic, you know, the way you think.

So we'd just continue to tolerate gangs, which currently number over a million members nationwide, all of which will tell you right up front they are not Boy Scouts. They are all about murder, robbery, drug dealing, and spraying bullets in all directions without care of what they maim.

And under your plan we will continue to warehouse inmates, again well over a million people at an annual cost of about $70,000 per year per inmate. And with a high repeat offender rate I can certainly see why you'd want to continue on with the status quo as it is working so well, right?

I said it to Kent, and now I'll say it to you. I'm in favor of being rid of anyone who has demonstrated to society that he/she black/white/latino/whatever has made a conscious choice to be a career criminal and as such is telling you they will FOREVER be a menace to society.

And yes Pubsnub, it would involve deporting American citizens. How you can say with a straight face "American citizens" when we are talking about a type of person who does not exhibit the values of an American citizen escapes me.

Pubsnub, maybe you should do a little reading about history, as it pertains to a country that cannot control its citizens or its borders. Start with Somalia and finish with the Roman Catholic Empire. You might learn something.


Article Comment reality commented at 5/10/2010 7:35:00 AM:

No Columbus it 65 / 30 the other 5 is Hispanic Asian and so on.


Article Comment Sharp Nasal Kent commented at 5/10/2010 12:03:00 PM:

Let me make it real clear for you Kent: I am in favor of deporting anyone who is a career criminal.

I must have been misled by all the racial statistics you were throwing around, and your assertion that it wouldn't be "PC" to say what the problem "really is."

Which seems strange, if you believe the problem "really is" career criminals (which it is), because saying that isn't "un-PC" at all. People say it all the time.

Nice walkback, though.


Article Comment Pubsnub commented at 5/10/2010 3:26:00 PM:

Catfishlips -

I still have most of my mind, enough at least to make this point. The last time I checked the CITY OF COLUMBUS was divided pretty closely between black and white. I stated that through my own observations and improptu research that about 50% of the people arrested were white and 50% of them were black. I only mentioned it because that seemed where you were you were moving the dicussion, but you didn't want to be un-PC. If that's not where you were going, I'm sorry I brought it up. It's my fault for inferring.

Surely you must see that deportation of American citizens is wrong, and advocating shooting people is also wrong. If you cannot, then you are the one who "does not exhibit the values of an American citizen" as you put it. I agree that the current penal and prison system and the parts of the system of American justice are failing. However, your solution is rediculous and despicable, and I can say THAT with a straight face.


Article Comment Deez commented at 5/10/2010 3:57:00 PM:

Columbus isn't that bad, but I don't see anyone trying to move here. You take away Columbus AFB, Columbus is "nothing"
HECK, more people are leaving Columbus than coming.


Article Comment catfishlips commented at 5/11/2010 7:18:00 AM:

I dunno Pubsnub, maybe you've never been robbed or shot at, maybe that's why you still think your old system still has merit. And I'd really like to know what you are going to do when the gang population hits several million. That doesn't include the common criminal either. So you'll have several million already told you they'd kill, rape, rob, and anything else type people running around loose waiting for an antique justice system to "catch" them. And now, add the "home-grown terrorist" and I think it would be easy for you to see things are rapidly falling out of hand.

Sooner or later the numbers are going to catch up with you, and then what are you going to do? Look behind you and see what is gaining on you.

You won't have enough money to handle them, and you can't rehab them, so what are you planning to do with them? Let them out early because there are too many inside?

It may not taste well to a bleeding heart, but you had better come up with something fast as you are sinking by the bow quickly.

Kent, you're not going to catch the cat you let loose by trying to blame me. You showed yourself and got caught at it. Sack up and wear it clown.


Article Comment Sharp Nasal Kent commented at 5/11/2010 4:29:00 PM:

Maybe you should run for mayor, catfishlips.



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