It doesn’t matter that this happened at 12:07 a.m. People who don’t know the area well, but might want to check out the James River Park, will only see “Belle Isle shooting” and stay away. Perception quickly becomes reality — for criminals and possible park users alike. For the criminals, it’s the broken window theory: If you allow criminal-friendly conditions to fester, criminals proliferate. I spend a lot of time on Belle Isle and I know how hard the police who patrol it work. But they aren’t there enough and there aren’t enough of them. For possible park users, especially suburbanites predisposed to outdated Richmond stereotypes, this makes them think those stereotypes might not be so outdated. So they don’t come, and they tell their friends not to come, and they people from out of town to avoid Belle Isle, which should be an absolute gem of the JRPS.
We can implement every aspect of the Riverfront development plan, but if we then turn the river over to the wolves, what have we accomplished?