Dickson Street? Unsafe? Are you kidding!?

I feel compelled to share something that some of you may have no care for since I'm aware many of you that read this blog live elsewhere, but I am absolutely so upset by a stunt our local news station pulled over the weekend and I'd love to hear some thoughts on it.

Its no secret that I love my town. I've lived in Fayetteville my entire adulthood, and I have spent more than my fair share of time in the local watering holes. I've befriended many a bartender, bar owner, and bar patron. I enjoy having the freedom to go out and have fun with my friends on my nights off from mommy-duty, and I've happily taken full advantage of the freedom I've had in the past year.

I have a weekly girls night where I go out with my friends for drinks, dancing, laughs, and gossip, and on one recent girls night a good friend and I witnessed a fight. It was completely shocking to both of us, and we were interviewed by the police immediately afterward. We noticed, while we were speaking with them, that there was a very large video camera around, and were surprised today when we were made aware of our presence in a local news report, found here, about the "Darker Side of Dickson Street" (we're about 1/3 of the way through, someone please alert the witness protection program! With all of this Dickson Street danger, it seems only appropriate, right?- haha)

As I watched, I realized nothing was right about this report. It was so unfortunate, the reporter and video camera chasing around the police officers... reporting that Dickson Street was "unsafe" because of violence... I was shocked.

The Fayetteville Flyer said it best...

I was surprised to see the second mention in as many days regarding a possible “unsafe” atmosphere on Dickson Street since, as a musician and writer for the Flyer, I spend a good amount of time in the area and have never gotten the feeling that it was a “dark” place to be. And no, I’m not always enjoying adult beverages when I’m there. Sometimes I’m working.

So if this “dark” and “unsafe” atmosphere on Dickson Street actually exists, we need to stop talking about it and start fixing it. But if it doesn’t, maybe we should be more responsible when describing the possible future location of one our city’s biggest and most valuable attractions
(the Walton Arts Center). Especially right now.

I also spend some of my time on Dickson Street working... I meet with clients there, I take my daughter to events, I attend concerts and dance at the local clubs... its simply not an unsafe place in my opinion, and I've spent enough time there for my opinion to be quite accurate. Tonight was one of the nights I spent working. I visited with Bruce Walker of Flying Possum Leather, a local business owner who was very upset by the report. Bruce has spent 33 years on Dickson Street, if there's anyone who would qualify as a better expert, I certainly don't know them. He put it simply "A newspaper ran an article a while back with a timeline of all of these crimes committed in the downtown area, saying it wasn't safe... some of those crimes dated back even further than I've been in business." (Flying Possum Leather opened in 1976 on Dickson Street and has been there ever since)

I'll include my comment from the Fayetteville Flyer article, which really sums up my thoughts on the issue, and while I'm at it I'll put it out there that I am incredibly disappointed by the decision made by 40/29 to report and air this, I feel that they should take immediate steps to correct their mistake, as there is simply nothing in the report that does anything but bastardize a part of town that so many of Fayetteville's citizens love.

As one of the girls (a brief glimpse of us around 1/3 of the way through the segment) interviewed as a witness by the police after an altercation on Dickson Street I not only feel completely safe there, I am absolutely shocked that there are people who feel unsafe on Dickson Street. I honestly feel that 40/29 sensationalized violence in our town in order to make their story more interesting, and that’s downright sad, not to mention very irresponsible reporting.

I’ve lived in Fayetteville nearly my entire life and I feel completely safe here, in fact… I’d be willing to say I feel safer on Dickson Street by myself in the middle of the night than I do in parts of Little Rock or Memphis in the broad daylight. In my humble opinion, one of the finest parts of our little town, is that in many ways… it is still little. Even in this report, the “darker side” they showed was a few 20-somethings fighting late at night… as a mother I’m not concerned about taking my kiddo to a show at the Walton Arts Center, or even to have a slice of cheesecake at Common Grounds afterward. There is simply no violence that happens on Dickson Street (in what I’ve experienced over the last 10+ years) that would serve as a threat to us in any way.

To say that there is a “darker side” to Dickson implies something far more sinister than drunken college kids picking fights with each other. 40/29 showed a very biased report which I pray will not further impact the downtown businesses already working hard to get through these tough economic times.

Tsk tsk, 40/29… Absolutely not ok.

So local moms, I ask you this... What do you think? Do you feel safe taking your kids to see a performance at the Walton Arts Center? What is your opinion of Dickson Street in general?

Tell the Fayetteville Flyer your opinion of Dickson Street here.


May 12, 2009 at 12:01 PM Melissa said...

I think Dickson Street is completely safe... sure there are the occassioanal incidents, but really it is quite tame.

May 14, 2009 at 12:29 PM Anonymous said...

check my blog (but don't feel obligated to do it, I know these things are a bit corny) :P