Two takes on gun violence in the New Yorker

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 23, 2009

A pair of related articles from the New Yorker last week. The first is a Talk of the Town piece on a water-pistol ambush game played by the students at a New York City private school.

Willis Cohen was finally killed through no fault of his own. He woke up one day and, as usual, hopped a neighbor's fence and exited through another house. He caught a livery cab on Amity Street and headed north to the Heights. He knew he was in trouble when his driver refused to raise the windows. A member of the Gaisford team shot him in the chest through the cab's passenger-side window as he pulled up to the school.

The second is a piece by John Seabrook is about David Kennedy and his approach to reducing gang-related murder through a combination of community support and "one strike and everyone's out" policy.

At the initial call-in, Victor Garcia was the first to speak. He told the young men that he loved them, that they had value to their community, and that he knew they were better than their violent actions implied. Afterward, Chief Steicher addressed them, thanking them for coming, and making it clear that "this is nothing personal." He then delivered the message: "We know who you are, we know who your friends are, and we know what you're doing. If your boys don't stop shooting people right now, we're coming after everyone in your group."

Without too much trouble, you could imagine either of these excerpts appearing in either article. A curious editorial decision to run them in the same issue.