ToquiNotes: Lack of Respect, Accountability, Drug Use Part of City Trend of Vandalism, Property Destruction

By Jeff Toquinto on June 10, 2017 from ToquiNotes via Connect-Bridgeport.com

Maybe it’s my growing cynical nature. Maybe I’m who they’re talking about when they say “if it’s too loud, you’re too old.” Or maybe, just maybe, I’m justified that I’m irritated at what I’ve watched or heard unfold in recent weeks here in Bridgeport and almost certainly in every other nook and cranny of the state.
 
Folks, I’m starting to believe those with couth are a becoming a minority. While it’s not necessarily one thing that has led me to feel this way, it was one thing that I saw last week on social media that just disgusted me to no end.
 
As I opened up my Facebook page to do my browsing of the Connect-Bridgeport page I’m partially responsible for, there on my own news feed was a post by my friend and Bridgeport City Clerk Andrea Kerr. Kerr, as some may or may not know, is pulling double duty as a public servant and a now a small business owner.
 
A little more than a month ago Kerr and her friend Jennifer Blair opened up Lizards and Lollipops on Main Street; a little consignment shop in a once vacant store front that had seen better days. They spruced it up, opened the doors and they had and still have a little success story on their hands.
 
Last Sunday Kerr arrived at the storefront to find that the flowers they had utilized to decorate the once dilapidated exterior and have it match the beauty that the downtown shows on a regular basis smashed to pieces. The plants, the pots and soil were in a heap.
 
“It’s not anything disastrous, it didn’t shut down our business and we’ll continue on, but it’s so disheartening. Not because it happened to us, but because these type of incidents just keep popping up on a more frequent basis,” said Kerr, who noted Blair’s husband is trying to save the plants to be placed once again in front of their store.
 
As I came to find out Monday, apparently the stupidity wasn’t limited to the one storefront. The individual or individual(s) responsible vented on more vegetation on Main Street. When they made it to the Main Street bridge near the Bridgeport Fire Department they took out their rage, stupidity or perhaps drug or alcohol-fueled idiocy again on some plant life.
 
I’m betting there were a whole lot more incidents that took place that I’ll never know about. To date, I know about those two.
 
“For the past several years on each of the bridges we have six custom-made flower pots attached to them. They really look beautiful when they’re in bloom for people driving through town. I guess at about the same time they were vandalizing Andrea’s store they either were on their way or had already decided to destroy the flowers on the bridge,” said Bridgeport Parks and Recreation Deputy Director Joe Shuttleworth. “Two of the flower pots were pried loose from their holders and thrown into Simpson Creek.”
 
The good news? Parks staff found one of the custom-made pots near the bridge and another one hung up in some creek debris behind the Benedum Civic Center.
 
Shuttleworth had no idea why someone would do it. And he has no idea who did it. When asked how he felt about it, he used the same key word that Kerr used.
 
“It’s just disheartening someone would have that little respect for the community and the work done to make it look good to just trash it,” said Shuttleworth.
 
Understand, this isn’t about flowers being destroyed and property owned by the city or one city business owner I happen to know being victimized. Rather, it’s a culmination of things that set me off and this was the tipping point – sort of like Michael Douglas movie Falling Down.
 
Unlike Douglas who just got tired of it and started mowing down people in a Wild West pattern, when I decide I have seen enough I do the only thing I can. I vent verbally via the keyboard and, yes, I’ve seen enough.
 
Think about it. In recent months you’ve read about reports of windows smashed out of Rite Aid in what appears to be an attempted robbery, Bridgeport Physical Therapy successfully broken into, Third Millennium Marketing having a car drive by and bust out its window more than once, Shop ‘n Save’s doors busted out and stolen from, every car unlocked and some not having items taken from them and home invasions. We've written probably a dozen times in recent years about vandalism and profanity sprayed graffiti at city parks.
 
I’m certain I’m missing something; actually probably a bunch. A lot of what’s taken place on the crime front is fueled by the drug epidemic that’s seized the area. Yet some of it is just a complete lack of respect for anything and everything. Adult, teens, kids … it doesn’t matter. There’s a growing number who are void of respect for everything in every demographic.
 
Think about the Shop ‘n Save incident for a second. The case was solved and all we know is that the individuals responsible were juveniles. Understand, the crime happened at 3 a.m. on either what was a school night or a night that the responsible youngster or youngsters should have been in bed.
 
Do you blame the parents here? I have no idea. Maybe who was involved has no parental supervision. Maybe, as sometimes happen, you have good parents that still have rotten offspring. Or maybe it’s the more common scenario of bad parenting and children turning out the same. As a wise man once told me, you plant potatoes you grow potatoes.
 
That sage advice aside, there’s a whole lot of potatoes out there and a lot of them need mashed. Instead of excuses, how about accountability. Instead of finding someone else to blame, look in the mirror.
 
I think the problem with the situation is that too many adults have told too many youngsters for far too long that “it’s not your fault” when it clearly is. And some adults now believe that they, too, aren’t at fault for their actions.
 
Until that mindset changes, expect more of the same. A lot of what you’re seeing, as mentioned, is the result of our drug epidemic. A lot of it simply has to do with too many people who believe that they or anyone associated with them are incapable of wrongdoing and therefore no consequences should be in order.
 
“What type of gratification does someone get from destroying flowers? It just doesn’t seem like something worth doing and it’s certainly not the type of headache we ever expected, but we’ll just deal with it,” said Kerr.
 
The problem is, she nor anyone else in Bridgeport should be dealing with this. Unfortunately, since being couth is starting to become a lost art, you will read and hear more about it. And while you’re at it, turn down the volume.


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