Fear Paralyzes The Streets

Mylonne Sullivan

Our team has examined various perspectives on why the streets don’t speak, and we have come across a recurring theme of FEAR.

There appears to be fear from most, if not all, people involved in violent crimes. There are psychological aspects to witnessing a crime. For some people, there is an increase in intense emotions (i.e. fear, anger, sadness, anxiety, etc.), hyper vigilance (Webster def.: the state of being highly or abnormally alert to potential danger or threat,) and/or re-experiencing the events which can lead to avoiding people, places, and/or things that remind them of the event. Witnessing a crime can be more complex than perceived.

In addition to the psychological impact that seeing violence can have on someone, the perceived physical threats can be just as a real. Many people fear their truth may have harmful consequences, including death. Fear of social isolation from family, friends, and community can influence one’s decision of cooperating with law enforcement or not.

While there are limited statistics on actual physical threats and harm done to witnesses, how our community perceives safety or lack thereof can influence one’s willingness to cooperate.

The psychological influence and actual/perceived physical threat of witnesses are only a few reasons. The history and current status of the relationship with law enforcement and the community in Cleveland has not always been healthy.

The perception of “safety” and “protection” is another important factor that appears to be influencing the community’s involvement in reporting crime. If the community does not trust those who are in place to protect them and/or their families, it becomes difficult to make this decision. Considering the various influences of fear are not justifications, but realities for many people.

The Witness Project

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