Awaiting word on the Common. Photo by Ed Coppinger.
UPDATE: NECN reports the suspect is a 34-year-old homeless man already wanted for assaulting a cop.
At the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. One of the rangers injured so badly the homicide unit has been called in, just in case. Suspect arrested at Beacon and Charles.
WBZ reports the rangers had asked the suspect to put out a cigarette. WCVB reports the suspect was acting "erratically."
Suffolk University warned students to stay away from the Common.
How horrible. Best hopes to the injured officers.
I've noticed an uptick this year in seemingly mentally ill people on the Common, as if shelter space has dropped again. Is this just me? It really could just be because my path to work has changed a little.
No hope without ample funding for Dept of Mental Health and other social service agencies . No hope for those who need help, for their families , for the entire Commonwealth .
It's not enough to offer support, they have to want support and help. It's also probably not helpful to have a headshop right across the street from the Common.
Where's the head shop across from the common?
That headshop is in my building, we'd *love* to be rid of it. Owner was arrested once by undercover BPD but seems to have become more clever about marketing items for, um, tobacco only.
As much as I'd love the shop gone I suspect the issue on the Common is the homeless, most of whom are no trouble but this dude clearly had issues.
I feel terrible for the two rangers, I hope they are OK.
Soldiers and sailors monument is a well-known hotspot for drug activity on any given day. That's where the druggies get stoned then monitor potential victims below to rob them. If you don't know this then you are painfully ignorant or not from around here. Time to have police start paying attention.
I've lived here 15 years and did not know that.
Then again I am a big guy and some of these waif thin junkies don't stand a chance next to me, so most just leave me alone.
It's true. Flagstaff Hill serves as a nice lookout for the cops if you're doing something you shouldn't be. I walk through there every morning and evening on the way to work and home. I've actually shooed away people shooting up, but most up there are young teens drinking and smoking pot. But smoking of any kind is no longer allowed, which is what this beef was about I guess.
It isn't just there. The problem is also at Park Street, Winter Street, The Irish Famine Memorial and the China Trade Center.
Being someone who works outside in DTX and the Common every day I see a huge problem with drug activity.
Until the BPD and Mayor Walsh enact a zero tolerance policy and put a heavy presence in the park it won't change. It is out of control and has been for some time.
Oh and arming the Rangers is not the answer. I'm sure that one is coming down the pipeline as we speak.
I live right across the street on Tremont, walk my dog on the Common four/five times a day. I am not aware of a significant number of robberies on the Common, hey anon, can you point to any stats to back that up?
And Cappy, I hear ya on "zero tolerance" but zero tolerance for what? Being homeless?
There is a non-trivial BPD presence on the Common including undercover officers, I have seen arrests for selling drugs. Much less out in the open dealing than when we moved here six years ago.
Totally agree that arming rangers is not the way to go.
I am there every day as well - most of the petty larceny and assaults seem to be restricted to within the homeless population and the usual loiterers. I have always felt safe there myself, but very late evening is always a bit of a risk. BTW, do you really walk your dog 5 times a day?
BTW, do you really walk your dog 5 times a day?
Where "I" should have been "we", my lovely wife and I split duties, yes. He's a 2 year-old Australian Cattle Dog and very high energy. It's good for all three of us.
1. Crack of dawn poop/pee
2. Morning Walk
3. Afternoon walk
4. Pre-dinner poop/pee
5. Before bed poop/pee
One of the only things I miss about the 'burbs is being able to let the dog out first thing in the morning.
Good times! I probably see you and your dog in the evening. Wish I could take mine out as much : (
Interesting video about the robberies on the Common and how the monument provided a look-out spot. Statistics included (although from November 2013).
I stand corrected, thanks Katie.
Sorry anon. Just kidding I am not going to apologize to an anonymous poster they are annoying.
(They are annoying because there is no continuity of positions across posts. When e.g. Cappy posts I know his positions from his previous posts. When anons post there is no historical context to apply.)
I remember the news posts about the "land pirates" and how absurd it sounded at that time (and it was going to bother me if I couldn't find the video to post)!!
However and in all seriousness ... even with my 50lb pitbull, I won't walk the Common. Way too many sketchy people and shady "business" occurring there.
You won't walk in the Common because of safety concerns? With a 50-lb pit bull? I'm kind of scratching my head here--where DO you walk then? Of course there are elements of sketchiness and weirdos and so on, but it's pretty concentrated in the Boylston/Tremont corner. The Common is about as safe as it gets for a city park. On top of that, having owned a pit bull, I can say that people are intimidated by them beyond reason, even though they are mostly the most stranger-friendly, least protective breeds.
Comm Ave mall.
Zero tolerance on drug use, dealing drugs, being on drugs and being disorderly, harassing passers by, fighting among themselves, being loud and disruptive and generally threatening or being in the faces of law abiding citizens.
Just being homeless is not a crime nor would I presume to want it to be one.
I'm all about safety and many folks just don't feel safe,
LOVE THIS STATEMENT.....
The police have been increasingly more responsive and aware of the above mentioned in other neighborhoods of Boston (ie Allston/Brighton). Officers related to the community service dept of the BPD are really stepping it up with the night time patrols. All one has to do to get their attention is to make complaint phone calls when regular disruptive/offensive behavior happens. They then have more and more ammunition to keep up the patrols in the area. Trust me.... the "see something say something" tactic does work eventually. It's not perfect, but it's a lot better than what is was like just a year ago in my hood.
Hopefully with continual good citizenship, other places will also get more attention/increased patrols so these very sad and unfortunate incidences are diminished....
My thoughts and prayers go out to the officers for a speedy and successful recovery.
That won't happen as they aren't an accredited police force. What might happen is the return of parks specific police units.
Also in the Fenway on both sides of the Muddy RIver....particularly in the reeds behind the Fenway Victory Garden
Don't get me started on the St. Francis House gauntlet of street harassment. That block is just the absolute WORST. I've seen people doing drugs in the alleys, too. I won't even walk down that street anymore.
- well, let's see here - REAL POLICE - patrol the Common instead of Rangers Smith and Jones just might be a good first step in improving things here.
Really? Doctor Elmer? How do you know?
People on drugs don't act erratically?
We're going to really debate this now?
This really isn't a tangent we need to explore right now.
Dangerous people are in the park. The police need to stop ignoring this now.
Then crybaby can keep talking about cops going in after the bad people and to hell with reason and fact-based solutions. Arrest them now, ask questions later, is probably what she'll say next!
PFT... Rubbish! We need to help these people and stop pretending they aren't deserving of compassion and understanding.
Let's connect the dots to the events of the last week on Long Island. More than half of the people who were receiving services there for mental health, drug and alcohol abuse have been displaced and are no longer connected to receive the services they need to function in society.
The Mayor needs to get his act together and assemble a dynamic social work team PRONTO! They need to get out into the community and help these displaced people find the services they need, including counseling and volunteer services where they have a place to go, meet others in similar situations, have something meaningful to do and discuss and learn about these changes (to where and how they find services, what areas should be off limits and ones with newer no smoking designations.)
what does a headshop have to do with a park ranger being stabbed?
The Common has been going downhill ever since they decriminalized pot. Anecdotal for sure, but it certainly seems that way to me.
Marijuana makes you violent!
How long have you lived here? Marijuana's been decriminalized for what--a year or two? Trust me--the Common is safer than it was probably ten, twenty or thirty years ago. It's not the potheads who are making things more dangerous.
On Boylston across from St Francis House? They have a nice window display and have been there for years.
These guys aren't shopping in either place.
Unless that head shop sells alcohol, I "highly" doubt there would be any violent crazies coming out of there.
In the early 70s there were two headshops in the old sense of the word, posters, bootleg lps, papers, incense, etc right in the immediate vicinity. One was called Miles, which was on Winter Street (later it would house a place called Stairway to Heaven, but that was far to "80s" to be a headshop) and there was one on Tremont in the vicinity where Emerson is now called Ampersand, which was in a basement down the stairs. These were cool places. I wonder if anyone remembers them. More towards the Government Center end of Tremont there was a place called the Now Shop, which was a bit too boutiquey and commercial to be an actual headshop, but it did have a cool room full of blacklight posters.
Monument hill in the Common has been a drug hangout for years but whereas it used to be feckless potheads now it's frequented by harder drug users. Discarded syringes are commonplace as are people nodding off. It's a little scary, even at midday.
It's very simple. Remove the benches around the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, and install an iron stockade fence around the Monument itself (like the one in Cambridge Common) to keep people from lounging there all day unseen. Cameras would be good too. Haven't noticed too many syringes myself (I frequently volunteer clean up duty) - its rare when I do come across one, but it has happened.
We can't control the people who can't control themselves so let's spoil the nice things we have so they can't? The hill is a great spot. People, civilized people, enjoy sitting on those benches when they aren't overrun by the lowlifes. Get rid of the benches? Get rid of the lowlifes.
If you want to cut down on the lowlifes, this is the best preventative way to start without having to have cops up there hassling people and getting into situations just like this. As I said - I am there a lot. Quite a lot. All I can say is that I've hardly ever seen a tourist use any of the benches. Maybe the odd Emerson or Suffolk kid. They look at the monument for a few minutes and move on. Not so with the loiters - they party up there all day and all night. Also, the benches are almost always covered with graffiti, spilled sugary drinks, loose tobacco and sometimes worse after these debaucheries. Other people don't use the benches because some of the people up there already using the benches are either very sketchy in small groups, or very loud and boisterous in large groups. Just remove the ability to loiter easily and you will cut down on the 'lowlifes'
Time limit for use of benches? How does this work?
Also, where will they go if not where they are?
Thirdly, if a guy has no restraint when it comes to stabbing park rangers, is he going to pay any attention to not loitering?
Please explain how this is going to work without Boston eating a lawsuit? Or, alternately, without these guys then crowding every stoop and sidewalk downtown?
Please read again. No one is timing how long people will be on benches. A few benches, out of sight from those patrolling the park from below, would be removed. The point is to remove only the benches at the top of the hill, in order to make it less likely that people who don't want to be seen easily at the top of the hill can be seen easily at the bottom of the hill - there are plenty of benches below the hill and throughout the Common for people to loiter as long as they want - - but they will be more visible.
Are you suggesting that if the city were to remove 6 benches a lawsuit would ensue? You're reading far too much into what I am suggesting (and from what I hear, is seriously being considered by the city).
I'm not saying that doing this would have prevented what happened here, but it would cut down on illegal drug activity that is rampant up there.
Increased drug and homeless activity by BMC @ mass ave since Long Island closed
I wonder what happened. Those rangers if I'm not mistaken aren't armed.
Rangers had just asked him to put out a cigarette.
If your job involves reminding people what the laws are, you will run into resistance and possibly --- as we've seen here -- violence. Change the job duties or change the policies, but don't send them out there completely defenseless. If you want someone policing, put the police there.
If this city refuses to arm the Boston School POLICE, what makes you think they'll arm park rangers?
Wow, that is awful! I hope they both make it out ok! I'm on my break and sitting at the Commons right now and was wondering why there are cop cars speeding through the park (and people aimlessly strolling in front of them! Yikes! Just saw a woman almost get hit by a cruiser)
Starting tomorrow MSP,BPD,RANGERS,TRANSIT and every other agency will turn the commons into a trailer park with their command posts and swat teams and clean up the commons. I hope the rangers are ok and their families get the support they deserve.
It's "Common" by the way
Downtown and the Commons have been scary and sketchy for a while now, and this is coming from someone who loved going downtown since the 80's. I wish I could share my memories with my kids, but they don't want to go near there!
Took the kids to a Sunday morning movie, how bad could it be righ? Well Macys I thought was going to be robbed (they must take a huge hit from shoplifters), McDonalds was mostly druggies, as well as CVS on Winter St. There were tourists with their kids amongst it all, being hassled for money. Bet that is a one and done visit for them. I vowed that I would contact City Hall about it, but not even sure where to start.
Let's not overreact here. It sounds like you don't get to the city much. I grew up being taken to the Common with my Mom back in the 70's to swim in the Frog Pond, and there were plenty of sketchy characters back then too. If you go to the Common a lot like I do, you see a lot of progress being made by the city and the Friends of the Public Garden - the restored fountain, new grass and irrigation systems, new lighting being put in - then you have all the 5Ks, Shakespeare, the antique car show, movies, concerts, history tours, yoga and cross-fit classes with lovely young college students - it's hardly hell on earth.
I'd like to be able to guarantee to you that you will never see unpleasant things in a public city park, but no one can do that. Go to NYC, San Francisco or Seattle and its pretty much the same deal. If you really love the Common as much as I did (and still do) you would not abandon it to people who bring negative energy - the only solution is to bring positive energy, as many people are putting time and energy into doing. This recent event is an aberration.
However, there is a problem with overnight camping, exacerbated somewhat by long stretches of dry, warm weather. The city really must encourage people to move on after a while - I have seen a big rise in litter, arguments, fighting and damage to the grass. Not saying all are not welcome, but all must respect the rules that make the Common enjoyable for everyone.
In short, try to look at the positive side of life in a city before fleeing for the safety of drug-free New Hampshire.
Well put Finn.
I assume you are being sarcastic about NH and drugs, lots of meth and heroin in rural areas. You're just not allowed to walk through their homes :).
They are both nice places especially the public gardens no doubt. But let's not pretend that downtown isn't full of junkies and strange characters in general. I have never lived anywhere but Boston for my 40 yrs, as well as work in the city.
Maybe it's because the population of homeless and drug addicts seem to be a younger set as opposed to the older, drunken bums I recall from childhood, that they are more noticeable. They seem much more pushy when asking for spare change and things like that. Overall, I just feel that the homeless population now is a much younger and volatile bunch than years ago, and they are all over downtown. But they have to be somewhere, and with Long Island closed, if they are chased out of downtown they will be in another neighborhood. No winners here.
With winter coming in, I just hope they are someplace warm at least. You could be right - along with the usual older people suffering from alcohol addiction and/or mental illness, there is also a good amount of at-risk youth who are rootless and are more likely to smoke weed and deal.
They are cracking down on panhandling at DTX - but as I said before, the goal should not be to push out a seemingly unwanted class of people from an area but to make the area attractive enough to reach a critical mass and make people want to come and spend money there - effectively masking out and minimizing negative activity. Think about how they cleaned up Times Square. There's a lot of sketchiness there, but its drowned out in a sea of attractions.
This is why I get so mad at all the wasted opportunities in the form of empty storefronts in DTX that have been vacant for years - what is keeping landlords and prospective tenants from reaching lease agreements? To me, this is the biggest crime happening in the area. What is the city doing to fill in all that blight on upper Washington and Winter Streets? What are these landlords waiting for? What this city needs are big thinkers.
I could write a book answering that question. I know a lot about this from personal experience.
While I agree with you for the most part, I too was taken as a child to downtown area quite often for shopping, etc but you have to admit, Downtown Crossing area used to be full of shoppers and workers. There was little sign of drug use or even the feeling of having to be on "guard". That area is nothing like it used to be, very family friendly, and I can see why no one would want to visit now. Crap stores.
Up until a few years ago, my daughter shopped at Macy's quite often and she stopped as she had a few too many uncomfortable incidents with some of the groups of "kids" that congregate in that area. She's no lightweight but realized it wasn't worth her safety.
Oh and the common: I remember as a child with cousins running around feeding the pigeons when from behind a tree a man appeared. He wanted to know if I wanted to buy some acid. I was eight (trust me, many years ago). Drugs have always been part of the common.
The healthy bustle of workers and commuters and shoppers used to balance out the sketch factor--no longer.
And the Common was also the first place I was ever offered drugs AND thirty years later my daughter too, come to think of it! I also remember watching a man sic his Doberman on a squirrel and tell me he was going to make it's body into a hat. Good times!
The McDonalds and Burger King, I agree have lots of loiterers. But Macy's and the CVS? I've never found that area to be particularly sketchy during daylight hours.
Yes, the Mcd on Tremont and CVS on Winter, but then again, Winter has always been like that.
I meant to reply yes about Macys and CVS. I have a few stories of morning visits to Macys and characters out front as well as in the store. They are comical since nothing came of them, but I am sure that those perfume counters take a hit. CVS has all the quick pocketable items that can be stolen and sold for a few dollars, I always see the addicts in there. Maybe working with in the past and having more than one addict in the family, I can spot the vacant haunted eyes right away, and remind myself to keep an eye out for my wallet or bags. Sad but true.
Over near St. Francis house, have seen a younger man looks like meth addict, scabs all over the face and arms, begging for cigarettes. It was sad and scary, and to think that is someone's child. It must be a nightmare.
Interesting, thanks for the info. I guess I should keep more of an eye out then. I like to shop in that Macy's and the Eddie Bauer Outlet as well as walking through on my way to Chinatown. It seems better than, say, Central Square was years ago but I guess after I have "avoided" someone it just goes out of my mind and I don't think of it very much afterwards.
I find the Harvard Square panhandlers much more aggressive than downtown (I don't think I've ever been approached downtown at all).
A friend of mine got robbed at the Wendy's downtown in the late 80s, in the bathroom. So, yeah, it wasn't as great as you think. Don't get me wrong, having over 3 department stores was awesome, but there's always been a seemy underside.
As far as the Common (we'll chalk up your wrong word to autocorrect) goes, in the 80s it was as unsafe as it is now. The monument was the same way. As a teen, I was afraid of the hill. Speaking of fear in the 80s, it was downtown, perhaps in the late 70s or early 80s that my aunt had to explain to me what a bag lady was.
So, yeah, same crap different decade.
Yes could be a bit rose colored, downtown was always a bit seedy. The desperation that oozes out of the heroin addicts is disconcerting and it seems like they are at every corner downtown. The 80's and 90's had the crack addicts, and now it's the heroin.
Crackheads were probably still in the Combat Zone back then.
The area is SOOO much better than it was even 5 years ago. Lots more money, lots more people. Downtown Crossing is in in the start/middle of a huge renaissance. so you probably just have your parent pants on now so things look scarier, but in reality, it's just you who are more scared. No offense as kiddies will do that to a person.
This is awful. Does anyone remember when the Herald posted photos of someone overdosing on the front page while shooting up on the Common? Mumbles went ballistic and promised all sorts of extra protection. And for a short while the Common teemed with patrols but over time, things subsided.
I'm sure the Rangers aren't allowed to carry any kind of weapons really. Just awful.
For the record, I think that was in the Public Garden, but I do remember that. God knows how many people OD without people even realizing it.
The letter 's' is nowhere to be found
The Common is like a tot lot for the homeless and assorted ne'er do wells and has been forever--it doesn't help that there are shelters bookending downtown Boston. At night, downtown Boston takes on an eerie, zombie mood--addicts and drunk young people weaving through the shadows and smelly alleys.
The combat zone used to absorb a good amount of the riffraff (druggies,crazies,gangstas,hookers drug dealers) that hung around "downtown" The Ritz, the movie theater and Chinatown activism pushed everything out into that corner of the common. it's been sketchy on the common ever since.
Very true. Also, the pimps, gangsters, hookers, and even dealers they tend to bother only the people that are already dealing with them ie customers and other gangsters.
With the huge population of homeless heroin addicts there is now a bigger problem than old combat zone stuff. The junkies want money for a fix, and will rob and steal from anyone and leave needles wherever. They bother people that have nothing to do with that life.
With the huge population of homeless heroin addicts there is now a bigger problem than old combat zone stuff. The junkies want money for a fix, and will rob and steal from anyone and leave needles wherever. They bother people that have nothing to do with that life.
exact same junkies used to be a couple blocks away in the perimeter once known as the combat zone and Chinatown. they used to rob people and leave needles everywhere then too. they are now outside that perimeter and they are bothering people that want nothing to do with that life (as they did in Chinatown) i'm not saying it was better then just saying over the last decade the problem has spilled out onto the common.
As a former interpretive ranger for the Massachusetts Forests and Parks, the thought of this this sort of thing was my worst nightmare. I worked in urban (City Square in Charlestown), suburban (Walden Pond in Concord) and rural (Great Brook Farm in Carlisle) facilities. Each had its share of little annoyances (skateboarders, dog walkers (dogs weren't allowed at City Sq. or Walden), junkies and petty thieves at City Square, usually on arraignment day at the district court on the Square, pet walkers, nudists and creeps at Walden, and bored kids vandalizing or setting fires at Great Brook Farm). When I worked for the DCR's predecessor, the DEM, the enforcement philosophy undertaken by the department (modeled after the National Park Service's policy, which is seen as the professional standard), whether one is an interpretive ranger (education, guides, historians, naturalists, etc), or enforcement (aka protection) ranger (rangers with police powers, mostly armed with pepper spray and nightsticks, but with firearms in some jurisdictions) the focus on enforcement began with education and notification; IE: telling the dog walkers that dogs aren't allowed in the park, shooing skateboarders away, making your presence very well known to the creepers, etc. and moving from there if it escalates, depending on your level. As an interpretive ranger, I wouldn't get involved beyond initial contact. The few times an incident went further than I was comfortable with, I radioed the control center to send DEM Enforcement, the Mass State Police or NPS Protection (Boston National Historical Park Protection provided secondary enforcement services at City Square under a reciprocal agreement with DEM, they were usually the closest, so they were usually there first). Usually violators would just be told not to do something, but if they ignored a warning or were a repeat offender, they would be ticketed, or, in very rare cases, arrested.
... thank the BPD for their quick and appropriate response? According to news reports, the obviously disturbed suspect challenged the officers to shoot him. Instead, they subdued him and took him into custody without further incident.
I have my issues with law enforcement, especially in light of recent incidents elsewhere in the country (yeah, I'm talking about Ferguson). But at least in this case, I think we can be proud of our force and congratulate them on a job well done.
The BPD does an excellent job and this case was no exception.
They need to put more men in the park, at the Irish Famine memorial and along Winter and Washington Streets during the day. The problem really is when something happens and the police are nowhere to be found.
It is a huge deterrent just having a police presence .
DTX is very safe by the way. The bad element just seems to be more prevalent lately and I'd like to see this problem nipped in the bud before it gets any worse.
The BPD is, in general, a professional and classy outfit; the incidence of misbehavior by BPD officers seems to be very low.
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