I use, and thoroughly enjoy, the Greenways throughout the Triangle. Name the area trail and I’ve trod it. I’m 6’4”-220 and assume a big surly dude persona when I’m trekking….. and I avoid Assault Alley in Durham. You should too.
There was YET ANOTHER assault on a jogger yesterday (Saturday) in Assault Alley on The American Tobacco Trail in Durham. That is like saying “there will be heavy traffic on I-40 to RTP Monday morning”. It is “hot in Phoenix in August” and “State & Carolina fans don’t like each other very much.” All these occurrences are common place. Duh!
The American Tobacco Trail is an asphalt path that begins across the street from Durham Bull Athletic Park and meanders through Southwest Durham to Southpointe Mall and then all the way to Apex. About 98% of The ATT is a delightful scenic venue for walkers, joggers and bikers. I heartily endorse the use of such public greenways… with one exception.
About a 1.5 mile stretch of The ATTrail goes directly thru the guts of one of Durham’s most notorious “urban combat zones” – i.e. Assault Alley.
Durham is a socio-cultural metropolitan anomaly. Depending upon where you are standing in any given moment you could be (1) in a posh Westchester County enclave…. or (2) on a polite cul-de-sac in any town America….. or (3) in the Gothic Rockpile of one of the nation’s most esteemed citadels of high academia….. or (4) in downtown Beirut, Newark, Detroit or in “the Hindu Kush”. In other words, you could be (1) snug as a bug in a rug….. or (2) about two seconds from having a 9mm slug reduce your brain pan to goo. Assault Alley is that latter kind of place.
I’ve lost count how many “assaults on joggers” there have been (reported) in Assault Alley over the past several years that the ATTrail has existed. 20+ is a conservative estimate. “Only 20 or so” might seem unremarkable…. unless you or a friend were among those unlucky 20 or so. These assaults are common enough that the latest one simply generates rolled eyes and “Hey, honey, another stoopid jogger was naïve enough to try and run the Assault Alley gauntlet on the ATTrail”.
Why was The ATTrail laid out thru “one of Derm’s most notorious urban combat zones”? Beats me. Maybe to supply enough easy victims to the neighborhood’s gangstas that they won’t feel the need to go ahunting in Hope Valley or Croasdaile.
Why has “the local media” been reluctant to report that every single assault in Assault Alley has been perpetrated by member of one particular socio-ethnic faction….. aka “young black males”. Or as The N&O prefers to refer to them “the assailant was described as wearing a do-rag”.
I’ve been there folks. I walked thru Assault Alley about 18 months ago. It was a dreary February day. As a veteran walker I have a “spider sense” that kicks in if I feel the woodland glade I am traipsing thru is not as bucolic as it might appear. My spider sense kicked in on that day.
Greenways usually have a wooded buffer of 10-20’ on both sides when passing thru any residential or commercial area or urban combat zone. I listen to audio books on headphones but I never lose myself to the situation around me.
The bare wintery trees allowed me clear sight of all the stereotypical elements one associates with an urban combat zone….. run-down dwellings, unkept yards, abandoned vehicles, etc…. in other words:
“Toto, we’re not in Kansas (or Hope Valley) any more.”
Was I “profiling” the area I was walking thru the middle of? You DAMN RIGHT I WAS!
From 1,500 miles of personal experience – I can verify that “the people one meets on a Greenway” are about as “just good people” as you will find. From nice folks out for an invigorating stroll to veteran exercisers logging their miles….. all ages, gender and sizes. My favorites are the moms jogging with strollers and the families on bikes (like a family of ducks with 6/8 y/os pedaling hard to keep pace with mom and dad). I always “just smile and give a slight wave” to every one I encounter. Some return the hospitality. Some are too absorbed in their journey. As noted….. at 6’4” 220 with a naturally dour countenance I don’t want to set off anyone else’s spider sense.
That day in Assault Alley I quickly realized my situation. Not at all what I expected when I set out from the Trailhead at The DBAP. I was about 2 miles into my trek, not quite the turn-around in my normal five-miler…. but I cut my trek short that day and exited Assault Alley.
As the assault frequencies have escalated…. all being “white victim – black perps (oops, “do-rag wearing perps”)”, Derm officials have responded in typical Derm Official Comic Fashion. One city councilman organized a photo op walk-thru with him and a posse of several dozen local Chamber of Commerce-types and media flunkies…. and a DPD SWAT team. “Nothing to worry about folks. Nothing to worry about at all…. Welcome to Downtown Derm!” Does that remind you of the mayor of Amity in Jaws? Shark? What shark? Uh oh!
The local gangstas were kickin’ back and laffing at the “parade of crazy crackers” skipping thru Assault Alley tossing rose petals and singing “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.” To my knowledge Crystal Gale Mangum was not present either in the parade or among the laughing spectators. Nor was Mikey Nifong.
Nitwit Derm officials and clueless media flacks have also recommended “All joggers on The ATTrail should carry cell phones”. Ergo…. wanna guess What are the #1 items stolen in Assault Alley attacks? Yep, “cell phones. You can’t make this stuff up folks.
Big Bad Bill Barber has made no comment of any kind about this. Maybe thats because Big Bad Bill obviously isn’t a jogger…. or maybe because the perps aren’t “white Republicans”. What say you Bill?
What oh what can Derm do ?? (1) Encircle that 1.5 miles in a tunnel of chain link fence? Impractical and that only allows the local coyotes to block both ends and leisurely feast on the jogging rabbits ensnared in the tunnel. …… (2) Put up a giant sign: WARNING – You Are Entering An Urban Combat Zone. Please sign this waiver and list your next-of-kin. …… or…. my suggestion: (3) Install a 60” HDTV at the entrance to Assault Alley showing a continuous reel of Death Wish starring Charles Bronson.
While city officials and area media (N&O, WRAL, et al…) play “ostrich” because to admit the problem goes against their politically correct “agenda”….. local citizens continue to have their lives endangered.
Bronson’s character in Death Wish – Paul Kersey – figured out one somewhat effective solution to combat urban violence. I recommend renting that movie before you enter Assault Alley on The American Tobacco Trail in Durham…. or (2) avoiding that area altogether.