Gun violence and murder will be one of the key issues in the Wilmington Mayoral race, but the sad fact is that it’s primarily happening in low-income, disenfranchised neighborhoods of the city, on blighted blocks that might as well be on the dark-side of the moon to most of the commuters who work in Wilmington, or to the out-of-state families that pop off the 4th street exit of I-95 (don’t make a wrong turn!) to see the Blue Rocks and visit the Wilmington Riverfront.
These areas are often closer than any of us may realize and it’s amazing how much violence is committed almost literally, right around the corner.
The Wilmington Police Station is located about 8 blocks away from 10th and Bennett Streets, one of the more dangerous intersections in the city, which is just a short walk from The Grand Opera House and a couple of football fields away from where the Swedes first docked the Kalmar Nyckel almost 400 years.
Just a few weeks ago, 22 year old Kevin Waterman, a nephew of Sanford’s legendary basketball coach Stan Waterman, was gunned down over what I heard was a $20 debt.
When Kevin Waterman was in tenth grade, he was the starting guard on William Penn’s varsity basketball team, but had trouble at school, and dropped out, yet still returned to get his GED. His mother said he struggled to find work, and less than a week after 3 people were killed in Eden Park, Waterman was shot once in the chest just a few blocks from where he lived with his grandmother. His father, a standout hoops star in the city said he “was devastated” when he was told his only child was killed.
Even when the Wilmington Police had money in the budget for a substation around the corner from 10 and Bennett on Kirkwood Street a few years back, the drugs and violence just moved blocks away, to different corners. If the cops staked out one corner, the dealers set up shop on another one.
Waterman was the city’s 18th murder victim this year. A few years ago the much maligned News Journal put together an interesting table detailing where people were getting shot. The Eastside has less than 6000 of Wilmington’s 70,000 residents but each year usually accounts for about 20% of the shootings, almost all of them with a handgun.
“It’s unbelievable. Things are out of control in the city,” Stan Waterman said. “There’s a whole lot of chaos and I realized in a place that’s so small, that if it continues, that it would be on our doorstep.”
And right around the corner.