There's a stark difference between two Buffalo, New York neighborhoods -- one with a strong community organization and one without. (Photos by Peter K. B. St. Jean)
One bright spring morning, Peter St. Jean set out on an unusual scholarly expedition. St. Jean is a sociologist at the University of Buffalo who studies the relationship between concentrated poverty and crime. He drives a maroon Nissan Pathfinder, which that morning he'd loaded up with video cameras, two mounted on tripods and pointed out the rear side windows and one more up front, fastened with Velcro to the center of the dashboard.
"This way we'll see every angle," explained St. Jean, a 39-year-old man of Caribbean origin with a shaved head, thick, muscular arms, and the compact build of a wrestler.
On October 26, some two dozen reporters crammed into a conference room on the 18th floor of a concrete high-rise in downtown Newark to await the arrival of Hany Kiareldeen, a 31-year-old Palestinian man who, shortly before midnight on the previous day, had been released from the nearby Hudson County jail. An immigrant's release from prison does not normally occasion a press conference. But this case was far from typical. Kiareldeen, for one thing, had been incarcerated for 19 months without ever being formally charged of any crime. He had been separated from his family and deemed a threat to national securityon the basis of evidence he was not allowed to see.
Shortly after George W. Bush announced the creation of the White House
Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives--launched on January 29 to
facilitate a new era of partnership between the government and religious
groups--the nation's airwaves were filled with assertions about the unique
capacity of religious organizations to solve our most intractable social
problems. "Study after study shows these faith-based initiatives work better,
much better in most cases, than government ones," declared CNN's Tucker Carlson
on The Spin Room that night. William Donahue, president of the Catholic
Were it not for the butterfly ballots in Palm Beach
County and the Democratic Party's failure to insist on a statewide recount of the
Florida vote, the crisis that has engulfed America since September 11 would be
unfolding in a vastly different political landscape. Both houses of Congress
would still be controlled by Republicans. Attorney General John Ashcroft would
likely be in retirement. Tom Ridge, head of the new Office of Homeland Security,
and Tommy Thompson, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services,
would be, respectively, the governors of Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. And, of
course, the U.S. commander in chief would hail not from Texas but from Tennessee.
On April 14, 1998, two days after Easter, Janice Lacy called the Appleridge group home in Houston, Texas, to see how her sister Trenia had spent the holiday. "They told me she'd had a nice Easter and was asleep," says Janice, recalling her conversation with a caregiver at the home where Trenia and five other mentally retarded women lived. The next morning, around 10:00 a.m., Janice received a call at work informing her that Trenia had been rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night. Twenty-four hours later, Trenia Wright was dead.