I don’t think I have a racist bone in my body, at least I hope I don’t. But here in Arizona we’re in the middle of a complicated mess regarding our Hispanic population—legal and illegal, first generation, second generation, or no generation. I know that many of the Hispanics who work in Sun City West are legal citizens of the U.S., or at least have work visas, but a good many do not.
When we first moved here in the west Valley, we felt that Sun City West was a safe haven from the rising crime around the country. That was when the population out here had not yet blossomed, when the distances between our city and the surrounding population felt like a moat of safety. We no longer feel that way. Two recent examples of the growing audacity of criminals in our midst: Two weeks ago at Ace Hardware, where Rosalie works, the woman in charge of depositing weekend receipts from the four Ace stores in the area left the store in Sun City West at noon on Monday, the deposit bag on a strap over her shoulder. As she approached her car parked near the rear of the store, a young Hispanic rushed from behind the dumpster, ripped the bag from her, and ran to a nearby car and sped away. Broad daylight. A frightening level of cojones. Three days ago, I went to The Hole-in-One restaurant for breakfast, in the center of the Sun City West business district, and noticed broken glass and a mess of coins, jelly containers, and other debris on the floor near the table where I normally sit, the space on the wall above it now absent the flat screen television set. I asked one of the waitresses what had happened and she quietly told me there’d been a breakin the night before, that both tvs had been taken as well as the cash drawer. Surely there couldn’t have been much money in the drawer and the most that could be realized from two tv sets would be minimal. Yet they’d been visited by someone who didn’t much give a damn about the brazenness of the act or the consequences of their apprehension. We have little or no police presence in our city, at best a quick communication with the sheriff via our volunteer posse. Therefore, these two acts serve as warning that more, and more violent crimes may be in our future.
Back to my opening statement about Hispanics in our community. Across from the Ace hardware store is a car wash, serviced by an almost entirely Hispanic work force. It strikes me as obvious that someone over there had noticed the Monday deliveries of money to the bank, had made note of the time and the person involved. How else to explain the robber waiting for her at noon? We also have any number of different landscapers who work on our yards, most of whom are Hispanic. How easy is it for some of them to case empty houses, to note houses that haven’t been weeded for a long time, houses with newspapers delivered but not taken in?
Once upon a time, we lived in communities where the citizens never bothered to lock their doors at night. Never in the town where I grew up, never in the village in New York where I taught. Believe me, we now have security doors both front and back that are locked at all times. Believe me, we now fear that the moat is dry and the danger is real. And the criminals’ brazenness is frightening.