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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 Pennsylvania and North avenues, pod cameras and fixed cameras are mounted on opposite corners, eying each other as their blue lights flash synchronously with a police helicopter buzzing overhead. With most of the stores closed down and sheathed by aluminum gates, a few residents gather on benches in the dying light of early evening, offering different opinions. "If they put them here, they should put them everywhere," argues Bonnie, 45 (pictured above). "Why do they have to be here in this neighborhood? What's that about?"

"I wonder about the motivation for putting them here now," 36-year-old Brandon Cole speculates. "It's not to help people that live here--it's because the city wants to beautify the neighborhood." Pausing for a second before disappearing down the street, Cole finishes the thought: "Somebody wants to buy up this neighborhood, that's what it's about."

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