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Blue Light Special

Life in a City Under Surveillance

Photos by Frank Klein
Greenmount and 28th Street
"I think [the camera is] good," Shionta Williams, 13, says. "I'm not doing anything wrong, so I'm not worried about them."
"If they put them here, they should put them everywhere," argues Bonnie, 45. "Why do they have to be here in this neighborhood? What's that about?"
Camera at Pennsylvania and North avenues
"They ain't doing nothing for nobody," says Alexander Ellis, 39. "They're just there to lock black people up for drinking beer."
Camera at Saratoga Street and Park Avenue

By Stephen Janis | Posted 8/17/2005

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At 23rd Street and Greenmount Avenue, one the most crime-plagued neighborhoods in the city, residents seem most concerned about stopping violence, not civil liberties or Big Brother. Outside the Greenmount Recreation Center on a hot summer afternoon, the street is alive with activity under the gaze of a pod camera, a large gray cyclops with a concave eye fixed with flashing blue beacons. "I think the cameras are good thing," says Michael Hitchens, 47, as he walks into the rec center, where he works as a supervisor. "But they don't seem to be working, because a guy just got robbed right up the street at the liquor store today."

"Anything that stops crime and keeps people from killing each other is fine with me--whatever works," argues Reggie Anderson, 46, standing on the sidewalk outside the rec center. Still, he doesn't think a few cameras scattered throughout the city are going to change anything: "If they know the camera's on that corner, they'll just change locations. It'll only work if you put a camera on every corner in the city."

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