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Murders in Chester, Pa. Prompt Emergency Curfew

Perknose

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I have a personal history with this town. I grew up less than 15 minutes away.

The latest news is no surprise.

Troubled Chester, Pa., extends state of emergency

(AP) – 40 minutes ago

CHESTER, Pa. — Leaders of a troubled Philadelphia surburb have approved a monthlong extension to a state of emergency declared after a rash of shootings killed four people in eight days.

The current emergency declaration in Chester was to expire Wednesday, so Mayor Wendell Butler Jr. and the City Council agreed to extend it by a month.

Under the declaration, people in five high-crime neighborhoods aren't allowed on the street from 9 p.m. until 6 a.m. without a legitimate reason. No gathering of three or more people is allowed in those areas without a permit.

Police officers are also working shifts of 12 hours or more.

Major League Soccer's Philadelphia Union is scheduled to play its home opener Sunday at a new stadium in Chester.
Growing up, Chester had between 50,000 - 60,000 residents. Now it's population is under 30,000. It was a rough, mostly black minority place (no Hispanics then), but it was still functioning.

Years later, when I came back to my home area from Europe, I was stunned to see what had happened. It was like a large scale war had been fought and lost in Chester. There was little, if anything, left.

It was so bad, almost all the stores and ALL the major ones had left the MAIN STREET in what had once been the main shopping district in the middle of town . . . and the street had been narrowed and closed to auto traffic.

Unbelievable.

Btw, as stated in the first link, as a kid I swam in the winter for the Chester YMCA. We had a powerhouse team, and went all over SE PA -- Reading, Harrisburg, et. al., beating up on other YMCA teams.

The cream of all the surrounding boroughs' summer swim club teams -- the guys I regularly vied with for summer finals championships in freestyle, butterfly and backstroke - we all swam for Chester.

Looking back, lol, there not only wasn't one single black on the team, I can't remember seeing one single black in the entire building (could be wrong about the latter.) This in a by far majority black city! :eek:

Oh well.

At age 16 in our middle/working class burbs, all of us immediately got our licenses. We had no "mommy and daddy are absent" palaces to go drink beer, so we'd do it riding around in cars (no matter who's car, I always ended up driving because I wanted to stay alive) or in the woods or parks or playing fields at night.

One memory, at 16, is of a bunch of us driving into Chester at night to buy beer to go at a bar on the theory that they'd be more lax about serving us. We were just pasty-assed suburban white kids, but I always looked the oldest, so I was nominated to go in for the buy, at night.

There were a bunch of black kids our age or older hanging on the steps and sidewalk outside on this sultry summer night. All black adult clientele inside, with a tough, grizzled white bartender. He asked for ID, I told him I'd recently lost my wallet, and, for whatever reason, he let me buy two six packs.

Going back out, I had to step through the young black throng. One said something like, "Hey, ofay, gimme one of them six packs" and then another said, "Leave him alone, Tyrone."

I got in that car real fast.

Anyway, excerpts from a more detailed article. 20 murders a year in a city of 30,000 is a lot, friends:
Marjorie Clark lost her husband to the swing of a baseball bat against his skull after he dared confront a drug dealer in 1993. Her daughter, who has cerebral palsy, was attacked about 12 years later by a man who broke into their home. Last week, her 2-year-old neighbor was shot in the head and killed just outside.

"It's getting worse and worse. I'm angry. I don't want to be here no more," said Clark, 66, who has lived for 20 years in this historic but troubled riverside city of 29,500.

[...]

Wendell Butler Jr., mayor of this once-mighty manufacturing center halfway between Philadelphia and Wilmington, Del., responded to the recent shooting deaths of four people in eight days by instituting a curfew in five of Chester's high-crime neighborhoods, putting police on 12-hour shifts and announcing that eight more officers will be added "as soon as possible" to the 96-member force.

[...]

Some residents in the city's most violence-prone sections doubt those changes will make them any safer.

"It's kind of too little, too late, isn't it?" said Charles Stansbury, 56, whose 2-year-old cousin, Terrence "Pop" Webster, was among the victims of the recent spate of slayings. "This is nothing new in Chester. Why did they decide to not do something until now?"

Terrence's parents were ambushed outside their apartment June 13, police said. The boy was shot in the head, and his parents suffered minor injuries and have not returned home.

Clark, the little boy's next-door neighbor, said that the crimes against her daughter and her husband, who had shoved a drug dealer near the family home, were never solved.

"He came home and went to bed, and his brain swelled. He died," she told The Associated Press, wiping her brow and her eyes as she sat in a folding chair under the shade of a tree outside her home.

[...]

Situated on the Delaware River, Chester was settled in 1644 and was the site of William Penn's first landing in America in 1682. It grew into a robust manufacturing and shipbuilding town of 65,000 by 1950; "What Chester Makes Makes Chester," boasted a sign greeting visitors.

After World War II, however, Chester made less and less. Unemployment and poverty rose as factories that assembled cars and locomotives and mills that made lace, parachutes, yarn and textiles vanished.

The 2008 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau estimated 29.8 percent of Chester families live below the poverty level, compared with 9.6 percent nationwide.

The city has had 11 homicides this year, compared with seven in the same period last year. In recent years, the murder rate has averaged about 20 per year.
 
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classy

Lifer
Oct 12, 1999
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Cool, I am right over the bridge in Jersey. But yea Chester is seriously run down. I don't go over that way. Nah. It ain't quite as bad as north Philly, but it ain't pretty.
 

Zebo

Elite Member
Jul 29, 2001
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Sounds like you had a charmed life....feel bad for these kids today.:(

Lack of discipline, lack of opportunity, lack of a brutal criminal justice system are all contributors to animals running the streets.
 

classy

Lifer
Oct 12, 1999
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You know whats sad, the only way to clean it up is get rid of some of the people. Some of the cats from Chester will never be worth a damn. Total loss. Until they get rid of them, they ain't never going to be able to revitalize that area. Those clowns will continue to just drag it down in the gutter.
 

Zebo

Elite Member
Jul 29, 2001
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You know whats sad, the only way to clean it up is get rid of some of the people. Some of the cats from Chester will never be worth a damn. Total loss. Until they get rid of them, they ain't never going to be able to revitalize that area. Those clowns will continue to just drag it down in the gutter.
Only takes a small minority to control whole population. Problem is you even nark on them they'll kill you so no one can even go to cops for help to clean areas up from bad apples.
 

classy

Lifer
Oct 12, 1999
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Only takes a small minority to control whole population. Problem is you even nark on them they'll kill you so no one can even go to cops for help to clean areas up from bad apples.
In Chester, north Philly, Camden, that is so true. I think the courts have to do a better job at putting them away quicker and longer.
 

Perknose

Forum Director & Omnipotent Overlord
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One of my cousins, the oldest son of my Uncle Ed, taught HS in Chester. He even met his wife there. Boy, did he have stories!

He said you quickly learned NEVER to turn your back on the kids in the classroom, you'd get something thrown at you every time.

He was the wrestling coach. There was a kid, a good wrestler, whom he and his assistant took a personal interest in -- driving him home from practice, having him over for dinner at their homes, tutoring him, getting him a job and keeping tabs on him over the summer.

The kid STILL ended up getting popped and going to jail for participation in a gang shooting. Never even made it through HS. I forget, but the kid had some amusing old-school ghetto aspirational first name like Commodore or Senator or Ambassador or some such.

His wife got badly assaulted by a student, she quit immediately, and he got out at the end of that school year.

Chester, my, I have a ton of offbeat memories. When I came back to the area from years abroad and before that, our West Coast, what had once been a a somewhat seedy but still thriving metropolis was GONE. All the stores from the main shopping street were boarded up, converted to government offices, or gone.

I went into a tiny thrift shop and there were these elderly but elegant volunteer Jewish women speaking Yiddish amongst themselves, and I found that with my acquired German I could understand them perfectly! It was my in and we gabbed in German-Yiddish and English. They said they kept daylight hours and the "schwartzes" rarely came in their tiny, dusty storefront, let alone bothered them.

You had to wonder what they were still doing there but they were probably just too stubborn to leave.

Just about the ONLY other ongoing commercial concern on the block was a rather large pharmacy. I went in and struck up a conversation with what turned out to be the owner. He was white and a bit rough-hewn, with that kind of unstoppable primal energy.

I asked him if he feared for his safety. He showed me his gun, which he carried on him. I'm not sure, but I don't think most civilians could even get a carry permit in those days. It was certainly almost impossible to in Philly.

Lol, less than a year later, there was his picture, right in the paper. He had been busted in some sort of massive insurance/drugs/medicaid/medicare fraud, I forget the details.

Lol, Chester.

Some streets over, nearer the riverfront, I met a nun in another thrift shop. She was amazing, what a genuine life force! No habit, civvy clothes, and she was in her late '70's but had the clarity of face and life energy of a 30 year old.

She'd been a missionary in Africa/Asia (I forget) for 30 + years and now was here in Chester, cheerfully and open-heartedly doing good. My mere typed description is not doing her justice, she was one special human being.

From the day I met her, I'd make sure to bring her anything and everything I could for her thrift shop to make a few pennies on.

The FUNNIEST thing about Chester is that it was ruled for decades and decades by a corrupt REPUBLICAN machine. Hell, the entire Delaware County where I grew up was.

Even when Chester was at least 2/3rds poor and black, SOMEHOW Republicans ruled! :D
From 1950 to 1980, 32 percent of the jobs in Chester disappeared. The economy collapsed. Much of the more upwardly mobile population moved away. Those that were left were predominanly minorities, transforming the racial makeup of the city. From 1950 to 1990 the population declined from 66,000 to 42,000. During the same time period the proportion of the population that was African-American increased from 20% to 65%.

Chester's political history is closely linked to its economic history. Since the turn of the century, with one exception, Chester has been ruled by a corrupt and extremely powerful political machine. The machine began in 1910 with a Swarthmore dropout named John McClure

McClure consolidated power over Chester through a campaign founded in racketeering and bootlegging. He expanded his control to Delaware county, where he established a board of supervisors, commonly called the War Board. The board made all decisions and political appointments in the back rooms, and it was understood that ereryone answered to McClure. In 1933, McClure and 95 of his colleagues were indighted for conspiracy to violate prohibition. None served any time, however, and McClure continued his reign until he died in 1965.

McClure and the Republican party kept tight control over the city's votes by controling public funds in such a way that every government function was delivered as a personal favor. They "granted" you public assistance, and road maintenance. It was "just the friendly help of a neighbor," when they brought food to the sick. They were largely responsible for controlling who got jobs. In fact, to get any kind of job with the city, you had to be a registered Republican.

A paper in 1967 noted that, when asked why they voted for machine candidates, most African-Americans responded that it was so they would be able to get a job. Whether or not this was true, the rumor, the fear of losing a job, was all that was necessary. The machine held the people in the palm of its hand. By delivering favors on an individual basis it kept the poor from organizing and bargaining collectively. Effectively, it removed any power people had in the political process.

After McClure died in 1965, Jack Nacrelli, a local mobster, took control of the party. He served as mayor until 1979 when he was convicted on tax evasion, bribery and racketeering. His control was still felt from jail however, and in 1985, his secretary Willie Mae Leake became the first black mayor of Chester.

In 1992, in one of the most impressive political campaigns of the city's history, the Democratic party finally overthrew the machine. A number of community groups came togeter to register over 3,400 new voters. Barbara Bohannan-Sheppard, the director of a local daycare center, was elected mayor.

The new administration was marked by infighting however, and in 1996 the Republicans regained control. Last month, Nacrelli's portrait was redisplayed in city hall.
 

PJABBER

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Feb 8, 2001
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I, too, lived for a while in the vicinity and Chester was never a place that I would venture due to the problems there. They built a new casino in the middle of it (next to the prison!) but I don't think that has helped at all. The new soccer facility is also supposed to help but I don't have high hopes.

Sometimes you just have to do a comprehensive urban renewal project, raze everything and start again, if you can.

Right next to Chester are some really nice suburbs like Wallingford and Swarthmore, but once you get past Widner University to the east side of I-95 it becomes something completely different.
 

MJinZ

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Nov 4, 2009
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Sounds like you had a charmed life....feel bad for these kids today.:(

Lack of discipline, lack of opportunity, lack of a brutal criminal justice system are all contributors to animals running the streets.
What is with Blacks and Hispanics and Crime, violence and Gangs?

Is this also the case in Africa and Mexico? Mexico, I'm sure, but Africa? I am curious.
 

Perknose

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I, too, lived for a while in the vicinity and Chester was never a place that I would venture due to the problems there.
Even you can go most anywhere in Chester in daylight, and I've gone all places there, even at night, but then I lack your tremulous girly fear.

But, yeah, I guess you'd pee your dockers in fright, being the REMF metrosexual that you are.
 

Zebo

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Jul 29, 2001
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What is with Blacks and Hispanics and Crime, violence and Gangs?

Is this also the case in Africa and Mexico? Mexico, I'm sure, but Africa? I am curious.
What does race have to do with it? ALL the scumbags I know are white. I have a brother that grew up with everything and has spent half his life in prison revolving doornot to mention all his loser friends. If they gave me permission I do society a favor. Know what I'm sayin? Round these parts it won't be a black kid who will blow your head off for stumbling on his meth lab but white.

Why is we have stopped being brutal and cruel to the brutal and cruel.

For thousands of years humankind just eliminated people who could not function in civil society. Today we slap them on the wrist, give them checks and counseling all proven fail. Mexico is an especially bad case which would require Taliban style collective/familial punishment to rid them of drug lords.
 
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PJABBER

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Feb 8, 2001
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Even you can go most anywhere in Chester in daylight, and I've gone all places there, even at night, but then I lack your tremulous girly fear.
LOL, I have. Daylight and after all good people have locked their doors and gone to an uneasy sleep. Recently, too, as I went to check out the casino after it opened. And may again, as I would like to catch a pro soccer game if I am in the area.

For some reason, I just don't get the thrill of wandering around urban wastelands. After all, my sartorial finery does make me stand out in a sea of Timberlands, hoodies and pants hung low.
 

spittledip

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Apr 23, 2005
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What is with Blacks and Hispanics and Crime, violence and Gangs?

Is this also the case in Africa and Mexico? Mexico, I'm sure, but Africa? I am curious.
The key element is poverty and lack of good parenting, mainly the latter. It has nothing to do with race or ethnicity.
 

LunarRay

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Mar 2, 2003
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Geeze! When I was a kid I used to go down to Chester... well, Brookhaven to visit my Uncle and his family for vacation. Brooklyn didn't have cows at the time... Anyhow, It was a really nice place. Just started to develop and there were fields all over to romp in... I don't recall seeing anyone but white folks there. But it would not be something I'd notice anyhow given my 'hood'. That was in the early 50's...
 

Zebo

Elite Member
Jul 29, 2001
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One could clean that place up in a day with a company of Rangers and an order like this.
 

Perknose

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Geeze! When I was a kid I used to go down to Chester... well, Brookhaven to visit my Uncle and his family for vacation. Brooklyn didn't have cows at the time... Anyhow, It was a really nice place. Just started to develop and there were fields all over to romp in... I don't recall seeing anyone but white folks there. But it would not be something I'd notice anyhow given my 'hood'. That was in the early 50's...
Brookhaven != Chester, then or now. Chester was a rough but still viable city then, though already starting on it's way down.

But Brookhaven, no fields left there at all now, is still just a regular working class suburb up until today, Lunar.

Edgemont Ave, Rt. 352! :D

My Junior HS math teacher (7th and 8th) grade, Wilma Sunflower Flaig (full blood beloved patriot of some sort), lived on a sprawling old run down farm that I don't even think had much in the way of indoor plumbing off of Rt.352 jusa couple miles north of Brookhaven, in Middleton.

She was whole incredibly interesting story in and of herself!

Then there's Parkside, a really tiny borough kind of inside Brookhaven, that became briefly famous in the 1980's when the KKK decided to hold a march/rally there. I don't think they actually pulled it off, iirc, though.

All I could locate on the intarweb about that, from some random realty site:
I really don't recommend Parkside or Brookhaven. Sure there are some nice enough neighborhoods for lower prices but if you can afford to be out further in Chester County, I would do that. Our house in Middletown, just a quarter mile from Brookhaven, was burglarized twice. I remember MANY years ago a KKK march in Parkside. And the retail and commercial establishments around there are not the best. Just my two cents.

Anyway, as a kid, I remember going shopping with my parents at the big Sears in Chester.

I also remember, at about 8-9, being in the car in the middle of Chester with my Mom while a weaving, disheveled drunk (white, btw) was wandering on foot between the cars, blathering and gesticulating. I leaned out the open window as he came toward us, fascinated, to get a better look.

Mom grabbed me back in and quietly but firmly told me to roll up that window and lock that door! :awe:

Chester had its rough parts even back then, but was still a basically functioning city.
 

runestone

Senior member
Nov 25, 2004
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That was after SF quake when reprobates, miners and rough necks went to crime. 90 some were killed but people acted right after.
FYI, there was NEVER any LEGAL authorization issued for summary execution such as was seen in some parts of San Fransisco after the earthquake. It was purely a result of the mob mentality.

Some of the biggest looters were the soldiers brought in to "quell" the looting.

That aside, what a travesty it is when we see cities like Chester being taken over by gang types; we see much the same in some small towns here in WA state that used to be rural farm area, now defiled with the result of illegal immigrants and their gangs.
 

LunarRay

Diamond Member
Mar 2, 2003
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Brookhaven != Chester, then or now. Chester was a rough but still viable city then, though already starting on it's way down.

But Brookhaven, no fields left there at all now, is still just a regular working class suburb up until today, Lunar.

Edgemont Ave, Rt. 352! :D
I've been trying to remember the address of my Uncle's place... He lived there quite some time after and think he gave/sold the place to his son... Their sir name is Reilly. Of course he moved to Florida about '80 ish.. Right down the street from my sister in Boca Raton who looks just like him... exactly actually... cept she be a girl :eek:

I remember there was a store on the main hwy and his street... Shepard st... that's it... I've got the number 4352 Shepard street in my head now... dam... from 1952 - 58 ish every summer my grand ma would pack me up and down we went... ehhehehehehehe
 

Deeko

Lifer
Jun 16, 2000
30,215
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mmm, PA has some beautiful small towns. I grew up in Reading...another classy place! They usually rank near the top of per-capita murder rates, although I believe its come down some the last few years.
 

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