Quadrangle, I demand a moat!

Jacob Siegel | Op-Ed Submission

At 9:15 a.m. this Saturday, I heard a loud drilling at my back door. I rolled into the kitchen in my underwear, where I saw an array of carpentry tools spread out on a tarp covering my countertop. What was going on?

Then I remembered: several weeks ago, I had seen signs posted on my apartment door from Quadrangle Housing Company, my building’s housing management company, announcing the replacement of my beautiful and historic wooden back door with a new, steel-framed, “high-security” door. Quadrangle Housing Company wants to offer security to its residents. I understand and appreciate that. But they never asked me how best to meet my needs. They never consulted with anyone in my building at all. I feel powerless, weak, without a voice, in my own home. Who is Quadrangle trying to protect? Me. Then hear my voice. Here it is.

First, I demand a 25-foot wall.

Does Quadrangle think that steel doors can protect me? We live in the St. Louis metropolitan area! We’ve won awards for the most dangerous city in the country. Criminals from North St. Louis, East St. Louis and South City are all after us, and the only way to truly protect ourselves is with a high-security barrier. Therefore, I demand an immediate installation of a 25-foot wall around the perimeter of the Co-op property.

Still, I don’t feel safe. If someone can break through my old wooden door, the one Quadrangle saw fit to replace, then surely such a person can easily break through my windows. Oh, those windows! Even though Quadrangle has installed new security locks on the windows, any thief with a gun could shoot through without losing a drop of sweat. I demand that Quadrangle replace all of my windows with blocks of solid steel.

I realize how important sunlight is for health. We humans thrive with sunlight, psychologists agree. My new “high-security” steel door cuts the sunlight in my kitchen to one five-hundredth of what I’m used to. This will cause unanticipated health problems that Quadrangle never bothered to run by me. But had they done so, they would have found that I don’t care about sunlight; I really only feel safe when I have no natural light at all in my apartment, just blocks of metal.

The way to protect ourselves from violence is by creating fences. We live in a violent, unjust city. The climate of violence in places like North St. Louis arose directly because of the violence we have inflicted through the racism and classism of the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s and even ’90s continuing through today, and we must protect ourselves now from the consequences of our foreparents’ actions.

Is it true, as Martin Luther King, Jr., preached, that we will only ever truly be safe when we acknowledge our duty toward the violence of our past? Only when we learn to accept our share of responsibility for the system that created such violence? Only when we work to promote non-violence and love instead?

No. For my sake, Quadrangle, give me a steel door with a peephole. Put me in a gated community, and have the police patrol at night. Shelter me from the violence—with a high enough wall, I can pretend it has nothing to do with me! Close all the windows and shut out the light. Then I’ll feel safe. All alone, behind my steel door, shivering.

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