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The strange sad story of Camden

Sophia Weinstein's picture

In the few hours that I have spent in Camden, it is difficult to fully and truly comprehend that 'America's Most Desperate Town' and Camden are one and the same. I had a pretty strong reaction to reading Matt Taibbi's article. I was struck by how suprised I was to read the horrible things that happen in/to Camden, despite the fact that I 'know', or am at least aware of, the devestation that exists there. How can the home of the CfET and the official "most dangerous place in America" be the same city? I am quite aggravated at the way Taibbi chose to portray Camden, and I feel defensive of a city that I barely know. Mostly, I am confused as to what to think about the benefits and detriments such an article can have for Camden. On one hand, the article brings to light the injustice that has been done to Camden by way of external forces such as funding cuts that essentially halt their entire Police department. It is important for people to know how New Jersey chose to deal with Camden's safety problems, such as the "new $4.5 million command center". On the other hand, Taibbi paints a picture of the people of Camden that is only detrimental to the reader's view of the city. He shows a dwindling community that is exploiting the lack of police force, one that is "celebrating the tranfer of power from the cops back to the streets". In my one visit to Camden, I know definitively that this isn't an absolute opinion held by its people, nor does it in any way voice the determination of the people we met to change their city's trajectory in a positive direction.  Do they deserve to be defined to Taibbi's unknowing readers as nothing more than an attraction to white suburban junkies and an all-around dangerous place to be? Is this fair to the people of Camden? Is this really "The" strange sad story of Camden, the be all end all? "No jobs, no hope". How does this single story help anyone?