It’s not the kids, it’s the parents.

Well, now I know. It’s 11pm that the kids are supposed to be inside by.

At 10:15 or so- there was a racket outside of my office. I walked out and there were 20 kids milling around the corner. I advised them in my best command voice to find their way home and their parents. They dispersed, although there seemed to be some confusion on the ownership of a bike that seemed more expensive than what these kids could afford. It was left in the street- so I moved it onto the sidewalk- before a small girl came back to claim it.

A nice couple on a motorcycle asked what was going on, and I told them that these kids seemed to be out past their bedtime.

Here is the curfew law- from the City site:

2.5 Curfew (Hours: 11:00 pm to 5:00 am)

No minor under 18 years of age shall be on a street, highway, park, alley or other public place between the hours specified unless:

(a) The minor is accompanied by a parent, guardian or other person 21 years of age or over and authorized by the parent or by law to have custody of the minor; or

(b) The minor is traveling to or from a place of employment, or is responding to an emergency, or is acting under direction of a parent or guardian; or

(c) The minor is emancipated under ORS 109.550 to 109.565.

2.5.2 Curfew Hours. The hours between 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. are the hours of juvenile curfew.

2.5.3 Police Custody. Peace officers are authorized to take minors violating curfew into custody as provided by ORS 419.569.

2.5.4 Penalty for Violation. A violation of any provision of section 2.5 of the Dayton Municipal Code is a Class B violation and is subject to a $250.00 fine per each violation.

via City of Dayton — Curfew.

Leaving the office at 11:40 or so- I still heard kids making noise from midway down the next block. I went home, dropped off my gear and went back out with a flashlight to find out why kids are in the street this close to midnight.

As I get down around 31 Bonner where there are literally kids spilling off the porch, the same couple pulls back up on the bike. This time, they aren’t so nice in asking me what I’m doing.

I explain that kids should be in bed by this hour. To which I’m told to mind my own business and who the duck do I think I am. The kids are running their mouths too- in between smoking. I point out to one that he’s not old enough to smoke- and he says “I’m seventeen.” BINGO.

The guy on the bike wants to pick a fight, the wife wants to call the cops on me- and supposedly does. I tell them I’ll wait till the cops show up. This isn’t good enough for “Dad” who wants to throw down in the worst way to show off his manhood to the “children.” This is how we teach our children in the summertime- when school isn’t in session- “and they can be up till 4:30 in the morning if they want Mother Trucker” as “mom” pipes in.

The pressure becomes too much for “Dad”- and he decides he has to protect his brood. Off comes the sweatshirt to reveal the blue “wife beater t”- and then he’s an inch in front of me. I continue to say, I’m just waiting for the police. In the meantime, “mom” is telling me about how her kids were “molested by Mexican’s just last week” and that I must be a molester too. She screams for her man to hit me- but, he can’t quite bring himself too- although I’m supposed to be shaking in my shoes. He grabs my shirt, and starts twisting me around to push me to my knees- the shirt rips, my glasses start to come off- and he starts to reach for my flashlight- as if he want’s to pull it up and choke me- then thinks better of it when he sees I’m not going to get into it with him.

I stand back up, dust off- and call 911. “I’ve been assaulted, please send an officer to 37 Bonner.” The “wife” yells- “Tell them 31, since I’ve already called them”- “OK 31” I say- the dispatcher asks me who assaulted me, to which I reply I don’t know his name- and he proudly says “Dan Bowen Jr.”

Dispatch advises me to walk home, lock the doors and wait. The “posse” behind me hears me say 113 Bonner as my address and start repeating it as if they’d been given the combination to Ft. Knox.

The crews show up a little slow- it’s shift change in the Second District- and they were coming from the First. The officer says he was amazed to find it- of course, no GPS in the cruiser.

I give my side of it, another cruiser appears- and he tells him to head down to the lynch mob down the street.

We exchange some shared confusion about the state of East Dayton parenting, and he heads down the street.

I sit down and write. I’m still feel the adrenalin that comes with the fight or flee reflex that I seem to have learned to ignore to my own detriment. I wonder how confrontations affected Gandhi and King when they preached non-violence and held their ground and their principles.

More than anything, this convinces me that for all the “progress” we’ve made in South Park among the “neighborly”- we’ve failed to engage and provide for all the kids in the neighborhood. Had we had programs for the kids to play baseball, soccer, or basketball- had we had scout troops, and after school activities, maybe these kids would not only know me, but know better.

As the years have gone by, I’ve become less connected to the kids that walk the streets down here. I used to know many more of them, when I was working on the houses and the office.

I think it bothers me even more that Dan who lives down the street, and I, hadn’t met at a block party, or in a neighborhood meeting. He saw me as the enemy in this, when in fact, I was concerned about my neighbors.

We both live in Dayton, on the same street, yet in different worlds.

How do we fix this? I know that fighting isn’t the answer. Hopefully, he’ll learn too. I’m tempted to send some of Pizza Bill’s pizza tomorrow- because with pizza, all things are possible.

[Update 5:30 am] the left hip hurts like hell, bad day to have to go to the doctor too from a work standpoint.

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