“I’ve been reading the news and following the blogs about what happened in Port Richmond and I’m really sorry that happened,” she said. “I keep hearing, ‘They come from other neighborhoods.’ I want you to be angry enough to care for your neighborhood but not insane to commit a crime, you know what I’m saying?”
“I work in plain clothes… I use my own car. Here is my fear at this point: Do I belong in your neighborhood at 1am?” asked Szymanski, who is Puerto Rican.
A man in the crowd, misunderstanding her remarks, stood up and responded.
“Maam, could you please clarify what did you mean exactly by do you belong in the park at 1 in the morning?”
“Let me tell you why,” Szymanski said. “Let me tell you what I’m reading. ‘People who don’t belong in this neighborhood.’ And then, ‘Hispanics and blacks.’ Those are the three words together. The whole phrase. ‘They don’t belong.’ So I want to know, how do I know whether you belong in my neighborhood or not? You. Or him, or him,” she responded, pointing around.
“I’m not going to be politically correct here … If they were white, we wouldn’t be hearing that,” the man responded. “If they were white-on-black, we wouldn’t be hearing it. That’s the simple truth … if a group of white kids and adults went over and invaded a black person’s home, there’d be a big problem, there’d be Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, President Obama and everything else.”
The conversation went on in this direction until Davidson interrupted.
“What she’s trying to say is don’t take the matter into your own hands,” he said.
Last weekend in Port Richmond was one of the most violent in recent memory, and it all took place within a few blocks and in or near parks that residents say increasingly attract trouble after dark. It all started Friday night when a fight broke out in Campbell Square Park.