How Dangerous Is Compton? October 2014 Edition

Considering that what little my wife and I knew of Compton before moving here, it hasn't been the worst.  Our section at least has been fairly quiet, and everything other than the stealing of parts from my sister-in-law's car is more or less what we expected.

I have been here a year in Southwest Compton near Central and Alondra, which is mostly Latino, either immigrants or 2nd generation, and haven't experienced many (relatively) serious problems on my street.

On the surface level, if you were simply to drive around the neighborhood, I think outsiders or perhaps those adjusted to more comfortable living would be scared. The gang around here likes to tag up the blank walls here, but I don't see any rivals or any crosses on it which would indicate some kind of battle or struggle.  I wonder if the gang is just generational and more about tradition at this point.

No gangsters have gotten angry and threatened me, nor would I have known.  Unless they have tats, I can't really tell who is or isn't a gangster --- no one's really dressing up in super baggy clothes or walking around and intimidating people.  Not that I'm actively looking for those people.  I think I would approach these people the way a Phil Dunphy would.

It really is not the 1980s or 1990s anymore or at least my idea of what 1980s and the 1990s looked like with gangs in them, and I guess approaches change.

On occasion, I come home late at night.  The street, largely a residential single family house area, is pretty quiet.  This is something of a classist statement, but I can imagine that if it were apartments or a trailer park in the area where I'm forced to come face-to-face with residents in close quarters, my opinion might shift a bit.  One of my sister-in-laws and her husband and their small child live on the Eastern side of Compton near a Church's Chicken in an apartment complex.  They've survived and are on the brink of thriving.  However, the apartment complex they live in looks like a fortified maximum state prison with a white picket fence on steroids and definitely requiring a key to get inside.  Inside the complex however, it feels like as comfortable as any other apartment complex.

When on my street, you can usually extend common courtesy with adults passing by, usually, unless I bump into someone really intent on looking hard.  Even when I sprained my ankle on a run towards Gardena, one kid even went up to me and asked, "are you OK" to which I just quickly waved him off, even though I was now reduced to a painful hobble on a journey back to my house.

Most of the time during weekends, it's just parties with neighborhood kids and visitors, sometimes even multi-racial coalitions of kids just running around doing their kid things, which is a contrast to the last time NBC LA came around here.

If I could sum it up in a sentence, people pretty much just leave us the hell alone here, least in this part of Compton.

My wife and I are still relative outsiders.  I guess it is much easier when you don't know much of anyone that actually grew up here, other an occasional interaction with a neighbor.  Aside from my running or trips to Cal State Dominguez Hills we pretty much just shut ourselves in.

My car, a nondescript, largely unwashed 11-year old Toyota, hasn't been touched, though on one occasion, I did see one kid sitting on it like he owned it, which annoyed the living fuck out of me.  I wonder how things would change if I got a new car.  I do see new regular cars on the street on occasion and they appear to do fine.

However, my sister-in-law, who lived here for a few months with us, her 10-year old Honda that was as nondescript as my Toyota wasn't as lucky --- she had some parts stolen.  I felt terrible for her because it was an expensive part for her.  But she appears to be over it, has given up her car to her brother, and is now 400 miles away up North.

Tragniew Park near us isn't the worst park in the world.  A least it gets used.  We've been able to walk the dog on occasion during the PM hours when there are kids playing soccer and some kind of band practicing.

I will tell you that the only times I haven't felt as comfortable or secure in Compton have been when I was walking around Civic Center area. Even though the Sherriff's station is headquartered there, all I smell is desperation.

The desperation where you feel eyeballs on you.  Where some people might approach you, see an opportunity, and ask for change.  Sorry, homey, I ain't Barack.  I don't want to just bring it to you, work with me, and maybe we could do something.

Most things considered, least from our vantage point, there is some negative to see if you're looking for it, but if you just want to do your thing, then, ain't nothing stopping us from doing that.

Though, once I do commit to a project involving Compton, this might change.

No comments: