I’ve been thinking about Wen Hui Ruan’s murder recently, specifically about the anonymous commenters over at EV Grieve totally getting off on how they’d like to see Jamie Pugh punished or killed. Because Pugh is so blatantly guilty, certain types of people feel they have carte blanche to run a young black kid through the wringer from the safety of their laptops, with all sorts of bells and dogwhistles at their disposal. Of course when they’re confronted on those dogwhistles, the response is “You’re playing the race card!” (Honestly, anyone who says that—instead of apologizing and clarifying their statements—is definitely a racist who’s been called on their shit.)
Not that I think Pugh should get a pass. He did it, he’s been arrested, he’ll stand trial and do time. Even though I can’t afford to live in the LES anymore, I still consider it my home; the fact that this murder took place there upsets me greatly. My grandmother lives in the area and still gets out and about; that could have been her instead of Wen Hui Ruan. Indeed, if there are any “copycat” attacks (although hopefully Pugh’s quick arrest will put paid to that) my grandmother could still be in danger.
Part of the commentary on those EV Grieve posts revolved around the tired old canard “You wanted the bad old days back, here’s what it looks like!” which…no, not really. Violent aggression between locals in the Lower East Side has been happening, still happens, and will certainly happen again. (That doesn’t make it any less upsetting for residents, however.) In fact, sometimes it even happens between locals and gentrifiers—usually those are the only cases where the cops bother to intervene. This particular attack got buzz because it was caught on tape (as was the non-response by police), so it had to be acted upon.
I hope this doesn’t become an excuse to “do something” about the folks in the projects, because whatever gets done will have nothing to do with finding jobs or educational opportunities for them. All that riverside property can’t be allowed to go to waste, you know!