“Were those gun shots?” I asked.
“Sounds like it,” said Sam.
We carried on chatting, thinking that someone must have fired shots into the air.
“After all, who the hell fires nine shots at someone?” Sam asked.
Then several police cars drove past so we went to see what was going on. A huge crowd had gathered at the top of the street and we walked up towards it.
“It’s Milo,” I heard someone saying as they walked past. “They shot Milo.”
Milo’s body lay on the stinking asphalt a metre away from where, last December, the police held a street meeting to tell the residents of Brooklyn that they should help the police stamp out crime in the area. Someone muttered something about a neighbourhood watch. We weren’t inspired.
“Why?” we asked. “We’ve already told you who the criminals are. You haven’t done a damned thing about it.”
There was a fat green fly crawling across Milo’s stomach. He couldn’t have been older than seventeen.
Brooklyn is a suburb where sex workers patrol the streets all hours of the day and night. “Crack whores” we call them, because everyone knows that they’re connected to drug dealers in the area. Everyone knows who the dealers are. Everyone knows where the gangs stay. Everyone knows what they’re up to.
Every six months, someone gets inspired tries to get the police to do something about it. It never works.
When you’ve lived in Brooklyn for five years, you stop calling the police. You know that they won’t come, and if they do, at most they will give someone a scolding and leave. They never, ever make an arrest.
Brooklyn is really the kind of area where it makes sense to have a heavy police presence patrolling all the time. However, on the odd occasion that we do see police cars here, they are usually passing money through their car windows, either to one of the sex workers or to one of the dealers.
Later on the police will phone Milo’s mother and tell her that she has lost her son.
They won’t admit that he would still be alive if they had done their jobs a year ago, six months ago, today.
They won’t apologise to her for being personally responsible for his death. They may not have pulled the trigger, but their sheer negligence created the perfect circumstances.
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