The last 6 1/2 years have lulled us into a false sense of security. Murder and violent crime have been reduced to levels not seen since the 1960s. So great was the reduction in crime that some community leaders began to act as if the real danger in minority neighborhoods came in the form of overly aggressive police officers who are targeting young black men.
And now the wake-up call. In the first four months of this year, nine livery cab drivers have been slain. The livery cabs are indispensable for the people of Queens. Just try to hail a yellow taxi in Flushing or South Richmond Hill. Without the livery cars, life here would be that much more difficult.
The drivers are often new immigrants to this country who work long hours to make a life for their families. But they are not the only victims of these vicious killers. Already drivers are beginning to question whether the rewards of driving a livery cab, meager as they are, are worth the risks. The answer is obvious. If the killings continue unabated, it will become increasing difficult to get car service. Already it is getting hard to hail a livery cab. Although technically these drivers are not permitted to pick up people who try to flag them down, almost all drivers do. Or at least they used to.
On Friday, the Rev. Al Sharpton offered a $10,000 reward for the capture and conviction of anyone of the people involved in these murders. Other pastors have urged the minority community not to protect these killers. "They are not heroes," said the Rev. Herbert Daughtry. We join them in urging readers to rid the community of this vermin. It is difficult to fathom how anyone can justify taking a life for the few dollars that a driver might carry.
We applaud the decision to put protective dividers in every livery cab and to put video cameras in at least some of the cars. This has worked to reduce attacks on the drivers of yellow taxis and it ought to work with the livery cabs. It also would make sense for the car services to pick up fares only when the request comes from a known customer or can be traced through a phone number to a specific residence or workplace.
There is a larger problem here beyond the potential loss of livery cab service. We are once again faced with the realization that there are people living among us who are willing to kill for a handful of dollars. They know nothing of the value of human life. Nine drivers have already been killed. Countless others have been robbed. The people of New York must work with the police to rid our communities of these cold-hearted criminals.
Like the drivers interviewed for last week's story, we all "want to feel safe."
See the fire. See the fire truck.
Why isn't the truck moving? Why aren't the firemen moving?
Because they aren't drivers.
Don't they know how to drive the truck? Sure they do.
But rules say they don't have to drive and rules is rules.
Burn, baby, burn!
©2000 Community News Group
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