Cornwall Ontario -I find myself a generally cautious person, but all be it a positive person too. That’s how I felt one autumn morning walking up Alice St.
Birds are chirping and the sun shines. A number of squirrels are running around franticly trying to collect nuts and seeds before the winter comes. Everywhere I look people are just as busy, getting in and out of cars on their way to work or school. It’s a beautiful day in the east end of Cornwall. There is a slight chill to the air, but there are no clouds in sight.
A few hours pass, the streets are all but bare. Graffiti is drawn on the sides of convenience stores giving color to the washed out, run down buildings. Small chips of plaster fall from most of them as well as many of the other homes in the area.
The sidewalk is cracked in places and there is this one house with garbage and recycled alcohol bottles in clear plastic bags, barricading the entrance. There is no sign of life behind the massive stacks. A sign that hangs against the latched fence, which is barely readable, says; don’t steal the bottles, because stealing is wrong.
A few houses down a cop stands outside a house where two middle aged citizens argue with one another. There’s a woman crossed armed and scowling at an equally frustrated male, who wears a permanent frown on his face. If you keep walking, passed the police vehicle, towards a house with every window and door boarded and locked, you can escape from the piercing gaze of officer.
Walking passed I couldn’t help but be thankful that was not my house. I know I’m the only one who’s thought that when you’ve looked at some of the make shift homes people live in through out the east end.
If you live in the East End you might want to picture this, you put the key in the lock of your small apartment or home and turn it. The key catches, you notice your front window unlatched and pulled open to one side. You finally manage to yank open the door and get inside. You notice right away something is wrong.
Everything in your living space is a total disaster; your sofa bed has been turned over and your stereo, T.V, Xbox 360, Wii, laptop, anything with any worth has been snatched from right under your nose.
How do you feel?
Do you still feel at home like you would have otherwise?
That safe secure feeling you get when you step through the door of your house every other time, is now completely gone in a single second with one quick sweep.
For a friend of mine Kailey Hook, her sense of security shattered when she came home after a weekend of visiting her family in Arnprior to a ransacked home.
“When I came home everything on my porch was rearranged, my chair was on the opposite side of my porch, my screen on the window on the door was pulled out of it and cracked open. I saw all that and I just kinda was in shock from all of it.”
Sadly, Kailey is not the only one who has come home to find a crime scene.
Another reliable source stated in their interview that they’d come home also from visiting family, to their second story apartment trashed and remnants of a squatter living at their home, during their absence.
I guess the perpetrator thought that it would be better to leave garbage and bits of their DNA, as apposed leaving nothing at all when they made off with over 3,000 dollars worth of belongings.
If you walk down a street completely deserted of people. The only two residences you go passed are two identical buildings facing across from each other. There is only one difference to these two buildings; but this one change alone will completely alter the perception of how the public views the two structures.
On the left side of the street, the building you glimpse is a rundown warehouse with every window except one, smashed. Red graffiti painted along every reachable angle and surface, and it looks as though it hasn’t seen life since the early 80’s. On the right side of the street, is a warehouse in pristine condition with no broken windows, all the lights are on and people clearly have a purpose for it. If you were someone looking to vandalize, which one would you more likely to torch? The rundown mess or the one in better condition, that is still in use?
The logical answer would be none of the above. Unfortunately most people don’t think about logic in the midst of an illegal act. This is a direct result of disrespect, just as it would be if someone were to come in and ransack your home.
Unfortunately for Kailey, she had no locks on any of her windows helping to prevent a break in.
“What I couldn’t understand was why break a window and leave evidence, why not just take the screen out and not make it obvious that you were there?”
The real motive behind that would simply be because it’s easier. Not to mention, it amps up your fear and makes you question even the smallest of details in others behaviors going forward.
“I don’t feel safe at all. Like that just shows me a bad image of them.”
For Kailey, walking down the street is harder; feeling safe in her own community is now tougher than ever before. The only source of comfort or guidance I can add is for any one reading this, lock your windows and doors when you leave. Make sure you have done all you could to prevent an illegal act (even if that means you need to invest in cameras or a guard dog) occurring on your property.
After walking down the streets of the East End with me, Sam Zroback, shared her views on things.
“It’s really dilapidated. Yards look unmaintained like who ever lives there has no sense of pride in their residence, you know? And the look of their house… there’s a lot of sketchy looking people walking down the East End wearing bandannas and certain color scheme in their outfits, if you know what I mean?”
It really makes you wonder, if people living in the east end can’t even feel safe in their own community, than what chance does the rest of Cornwall have of feeling safe in the east?
I personally would like to believe that is not whole the case. After living in Toronto for most of my life, it completely blows my mind on how everything seems to be run in the East End. Where are the Cornwall police in all of this? That’s what I would really be interested to know.
E.V. Hutcheon is a 2nd year St. Lawrence College Journalism Student. She has professionally edited a Polish history book and is hoping to see her dream and passion of writing into a career. Previously living Toronto, E.V. is now a proud Cornwall citizen. On her off time you can usually find her at home writing her latest book, or walking along the St Lawrence River.