News of the senseless loss of life of this young mother compelled me to jump in my car this morning and actually drive to "Macon Drive" to see the conditions of this area for myself.
The site is near the intersection of "Macon Drive and Mt Zion Road" on the south side of Atlanta. It is to the north of the Atlanta airport. and about 2.5 miles from the Atlanta Metropolitan College where the CBC Jobs Fair was recently held.
I am not sure if the murder scene is actually in the "Popular Rock" section of Atlanta but it is close enough to qualify for the purposes of this article.
This community is full of contrasts. As I drove the length of Macon Dr I started out at the newly reformed "Lakewood Fair Grounds" that have been converted into a movie and entertainment studio. Drive southbound just a few short blocks and a residential community of small houses and moderate to low income people reside. Each block has what appears to be dedicated home owners that keep their properties maintained. Disbursed through these blocks is the occasional boarded up house. The houses appear to have been "investment properties".
From my experience when you see brand new wood or vinyl siding and/or a fresh paint job but boards over the windows-some investor purchased the property, sunk money to bring it back up to code and then either rented or resold the property. As the mortgage meltdown washed in - many of these houses were left abandoned. The renters gone or no one on the market willing to purchase the house so the owners have walked away.
This is a vulnerable community.
It was vulnerable as various real estate investors came in and turned "residences" into "capital assets" that were put into play for their "appreciating values" in the "house flipping" that went on. Despite the new coat of paint and interior furnishings the basic economic condition of the people within did not change. Ultimately the owner still needed someone in the house to faithfully pay the monthly note.
Likewise this community is vulnerable to the violent actions of Street Pirates. 99% of the people in the community are honest, hard working people. They want protection in their community instead of gun play.
As I got out of my car to take the pictures of the make-shift memorial a little girl on her bike asked me "Did you know that girl?" as she pointed to the memorial? "No I heard about it on the news", I said. "What happened to her?" I asked. "She got shot right there." "You want the people who did it to pay for what they did to her, right? " . "Yes", she said as she sped down the street and into the apartment complex.
Sadly if this little girl had been on that same road at the wrong time - we might be reading about her in the paper as well.
In a community that seeks safety that same community must manage the thoughts and actions of those who have a proclivity to violate the trust of the community. The drive by shooter with the gun did not care who he hit - he was content that "any of them would do".
Directly across from the murder scene was yet another remodeled house that was a vacant trash dumping ground. That little girl and other children and women in the community are potential victims to a cremudgeon who might drag them into the house and harm them. The best thing that this community can do to honor Julian Jones is to protect the state of their community by managing these abandoned properties that pose a risk. By placing more stable owners with skin in the game they will ensure that less foolishness transpires within.