Decaying City Just Wants To Skip To Part Where It Gets Revitalized Restaurant Scene


Posted on 14th May 2015 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

Hat tip Dirty Billy


CAMDEN, NJ—Saying they were fed up with the numerous challenges stemming from their city’s extensive urban decay, Camden, NJ residents confirmed Wednesday that they would love to just skip to the part where they get a hip, revitalized restaurant scene. “I realize that these boarded-up storefronts and abandoned factories might be turned into trendy cafés and bistros someday down the line, but I think most of us would be pretty thrilled if we just went ahead and got to that stage right now,” said resident George Pierson, noting that he is fully willing to bypass Camden’s endemic crime, rampant drug abuse, and high unemployment rate in order to jump right to the point when he and the city’s other occupants can enjoy dozens of farm-to-table gastropubs.

“Sure, we’ll eventually see lobster roll stands and high-end noodle bars popping up on every corner, but that could take years or even decades. Let’s just skim over all the gang turf disputes and burnt-out streetlights and go straight to blocks lined with stores specializing in key lime pies, locally sourced butcher shops, and gourmet empanada places. That honestly seems like the way to go.” Camden residents also told reporters they would like the city’s accelerated revitalization process to then stop just before they are priced out of their current apartments.

Via The Onion



Posted on 24th October 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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We certainly wouldn’t expect the idiots recording the brawl to put down their cell phones and break up the fight. Witness the future leaders of the black community in Camden NJ.

Police are investigating a brawl that took place outside Camden High School last week in which video of the fight was posted online, according to

The fight took place Oct. 14 at a park across from the school, according to the report, and involved a pair of teenage cousins and a group of other students.

“I didn’t know what to think, I didn’t know what was going on. I just knew I was hitting someone and like five different people were hitting me at once,” victim Anastasia Castillo, 16, told 6ABC.

The fight was reportedly sparked by an exchange of insults.

Nine students were suspended in the off-campus brawl, according to school district officials, citing truancy.

Police are investigating.

According to Camden County Police Chief Scott Thomson, the video was originally posted to Facebook.



Posted on 24th September 2012 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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Just when you think it can’t get any worse than Philadelphia, PA, you just need to cross the Ben Franklin Bridge into beautiful Camden on the Delaware to see it can get much much worse. Don’t ever make a wrong turn in Camden. It will be your last. Decades of Democrat “solutions” in full bloom.

America’s Deadliest And Poorest City Set To Disband Its Entire Police Force Over Budget Crisis

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Tyler Durdenon 09/24/2012 10:51 -0400

While the stock market in the US continues to surge (if not so much in China where the composite is back to 2009 lows) as the relentless liquidity tsunami makes its way into stocks, and other Fed frontrunning instruments, and only there, reality for everyone else refuses to wait. Last week we saw reality striking in Greece, where a section of Athens literally shut down after it ran out of all cash. Today, reality comes to the US, and specifically its poorest city, Camden, which is a twofer, doubling down also as America’s deadliest city. It turns out Camden is about to become even deadliest-er, as its police force is set to be disbanded following a budget crisis in this effectively insolvent city.

AP reports:

This city, long among the nation’s poorest and most crime-ridden, is on the verge of dismantling its police department and starting anew with a force run by the county government.


City officials are making the move to increase the number of officers while keeping the cost the same by averting rules negotiated with a union that city officials have seen as unwilling to compromise.


Unless the union – which is skeptical of the stated motivations for the change – reaches a deal with the county, no more than 49 per cent of the city’s current officers could join the new force and those that do will get pay cuts.


John Wilson, a 57-year-old unemployed baker who’s lived in the city his whole life, thinks it’s worth a try.


‘The police in Camden clearly haven’t been doing their job,’ he said last week as he walked to his home in the Parkside neighborhood, which has seen six homicides since the start of 2011.


‘Any change has to be better. It can’t get worse now.’

Oh yes it can. Here’s why:

Officials say there are about 170 drug markets operating in this city of 77,000 near Philadelphia, more than 700 people on parole and 600 registered sex offenders.


The murder rate is unthinkably high. In 2007, Newark attracted national attention for a record number of homicides.


As of Friday, there had been 47 murders this year. The city record of 58 was set in 1995.

One can only hope this is not a harbinger of what is coming to all American cash flow, not money dilution ability, ends. Sadly, for Camden there is no more hope.

The city has the nation’s highest poverty rate with more than two residents in five living in poverty, census data show.


The big factories that once made Camden an industrial boomtown have been gone for a generation.


Over the past decade, revitalization efforts focused on expanding hospitals and universities, which brought some life to downtown but had a less discernible effect on neighborhoods where even the best-kept blocks have abandoned homes.


The city expects only $25 million of its $150 million next proposed budget to come from property taxes. Most of the rest is supplied by state aid – and that’s declining.

Think massive ECB bailouts, which in the US are far more streamlined. As for the local residents who still are paying property taxes, it may be prudent to just take your real estate losses and move on. Or else…

In January 2011, the city government conducted massive layoffs, including nearly half the police department and about one-third of the firefighters.


Since then, all the laid-off public safety workers have been called back, but their numbers have fallen through attrition.


Now, there are 270 police officers, down from 450 in 2005 and 368 the day before the layoffs.


Police Chief Scott Thomson, who is slated to lead the Camden County Police Department’s Metro Division, points to crime statistics for the two years before the layoffs that showed the crime declining.


He says it’s because of intensive community policing efforts that came about when detectives were reassigned from desk jobs to patrols and the force was able to be more proactive.


With the smaller force, he said, walking and biking beats are used more sparingly.

In the meantime, the local cops are all preparing to bail as entitlement funding runs out

The Fraternal Order of Police lodge that represents Camden’s rank-and-file officers is upset that they have not been presented with a formal plan.


Cappelli says officers in the new department would have base salaries that are the same or higher than what they make now – ranging from $31,000 for a rookie to about $80,000.


Officers’ health insurance contributions would increase, and officers would also lose longevity and shift differential payments that combined can boost their pay up to 22 per cent.


The plan is to start hiring for the new force in October and have a mix of city and county police patrol the city during a training period before shutting down the city department sometime in the first few months of 2013.

The plan will not work. Good luck Camden: you will need it in your transformation to the first circle of US hell, soon to be joined by many more.

And here are some pictures of just what Dante would see in his modern descent into America.

Shocking crimes: A Camden police officer stands in the doorway of a home on August 22 in New Jersey's most impoverished city, where authorities say a 2-year-old boy was decapitated, apparently by his mother
Shocking crimes: A Camden police officer stands in the doorway of a home on August 22 in New Jersey’s most impoverished city, where authorities say a 2-year-old boy was decapitated, apparently by his mother
Fight: A supporter of the Camden Police Department speaks during a hearing before the New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee, in Trenton
Fight: A supporter of the Camden Police Department speaks during a hearing before the New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee, in Trenton
Forces dwindling: There are now 270 police officers in Camden, down from 450 in 2005 and 368 the day before the layoffs
Forces dwindling: There are now 270 police officers in Camden, down from 450 in 2005 and 368 the day before the layoffs
Run down: Crack houses have sprung up amid the boarded-up factories and burned out houses in Camden


Abject poverty: The unemployment rate in Camden skyrocketed from less than 9 per cent to more than 20 per cent during the recession
Gone: Camden police officers will lose their jobs at the end of the year when the department is disbanded
Gone: Camden police officers will lose their jobs at the end of the year when the department is disbanded


Decay: The Camden police have struggled to keep up with the soaring murder rate, amid layoffs and budget cuts
Decay: The Camden police have struggled to keep up with the soaring murder rate, amid layoffs and budget cuts
Decay: Soaring unemployment and the flight of thousands of city residents has resulted in urban blight spreading across the city
Decay: Soaring unemployment and the flight of thousands of city residents has resulted in urban blight spreading across the city

Run-down: Residents look out over the gutter city where almost half of people are unemployed
Run-down: Residents look out over the gutter city where almost half of people are unemployed

MOST DANGEROUS CITIES: Camden, St. Louis, Oakland, Detroit, Flint; You Know, ALL Those Cities Run By Republicans… lol

Did a ‘National Endowment of the Arts’ $40,000,000,000 ‘earmark’ go to Camden NJ for this gorgeous project? How are those free market principles working out in Camden? We’re sure that MOST of the kids in Camden have strict parents who are still married and go to church on Sundays..Nation’s most dangerous city: Camden tops the list again. The top 5 most dangerous cities have Mayors who are democrats. We’re willing to bet that most, if not all of the top 20 are all run by democrats. (Get on that for us liberals, so you can justify feeling better that we might be wrong on something so irrelevant.)The annual ranking of the most dangerous cities in the nation has again listed Camden as the worst. (We can fix this problem. Give ALL law abiding citizens in Camden, all 12,000 of them, guns! Guns, guns, guns! Then elect conservatives and watch the magic that happens within ONE year..)The annual rankings from CQ Press are based on FBI-compiled crime data and population figures for 2008. Some criminologists say the methodology is unfair.
Camden is no stranger to the top of the list. It was the most dangerous city for 2003 and 2004 and is consistently in the top 10. The bad ranking comes during a year when the number of murders in Camden has dropped amid major changes to the police department.

A daily occurrence in Camden N.J. That taxpayer funded free smoke detector program is really working out. That would fall under personal responsibility wouldn’t it? Don’t worry, with Obama and Pelosi’s future ‘Universal Home Owners Insurance’ bill, YOU will someday be responsible for paying for this house IF the democrats get their way. ‘Fire up those kerosene heaters!’ With ‘cap and trade’ causing heating bills to ‘skyrocket’ as Obama said, look for residents to start using fire pits in their living rooms…

(Story continued)

The study found Camden had more than 2,300 violent crimes for every 10,000 residents last year.

St. Louis, Oakland, Calif., Detroit and Flint, Mich., round out the top five.

Is this one of Valerie Jarrett’s buildings in Chicago? Oh, no, wait, it’s an apartment building in Detroit. With Fannie, Freddie and ACORN, you too can purchase a studio with no money down with a ‘NINJA’ loan; no income, no job and no assets..


Camden is a socialistic welfare community in New Jersey, and the largest “cost-center” east of the Mississippi. Because almost half of the residents live in poverty, Camden’s inhabitants have realized the only way they have any hope of being successful in life is by adopting the ideals of Stalinist Communism. The majority of Camden’s residents are Hispanic or Black. Camden is also one of the most dangerous cities in the United States. If you don’t believe it, then just take a stroll through downtown Camden and count how many needles and stray bullets you find lining the city streets.

This grotesque and dilapidated city lies across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, but I wouldn’t advise going in the river since you’ll come across a number of dead bodies on the Camden side.

In the early 20th century, Camden was actually not such a bad place, and was the home of major corporations such as RCA and Campbell Soup, but is now the huge mess it currently is because the last remaining conservatives fled for the more prosperous cities of South Jersey, or even North Philadelphia. Camden is one of the few parts of the United States without a Republican Party. Because of this, the Democratic Party is virtually guaranteed to win every election. They’re doing one heck of a job, aren’t they?



Rachael Maddow can come too, since liberals like Maddow might think that the American people would rather NOT hear insults being hurled at a former Governor who has a kid with down syndrome, compared to a report on ‘ghetto-homophobia.’

All these tax eaters, brand new cars, no jobs and a good ole ass whoopin! Chalk up a victory for the lesbians here, as the straight black female ‘right wing republican’ homophobe chick (we’re kidding) with the big mouth that started all this, got her ASS kicked by the lesbian with the really bad weave..don’t sweat it baby, sing a song…

“To all the women in Camden…. who always seek that drama….you’re just a baby’s mama…who voted for Barack Obama…Hmmm, Hmmm, Hmmm…”



Posted on 27th August 2011 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues


Here is the story of Camden NJ. It has been under Democratic Party control for five decades. The population was 125,000 in 1950. Today the population is 77,000. The population is 50% black and 35% Puerto Rican. A full 26% of the households consist of married couples. The per capita income is $12,000. Median household income is $18,000. A full 52% of the population lives in poverty. The average home value is $35,000. The official unemployment rate is 20%.

The real question is how did the white man cause this. Surely this shithole became a shithole due to racism. It couldn’t have been the policies implemented by liberal Democrats over the last five decades. I feel tremendous guilt for causing this horrific result. Please take more of my taxes to hand over to the lazy good for nothing free shit army in Camden NJ. I know if we just give them more money Camden will surely revive itself.

City of Ruins

November 4, 2010  

Camden, New Jersey, with a population of 70,390, is per capita the poorest city in the nation. It is also the most dangerous. The city’s real unemployment—hard to estimate, since many residents have been severed from the formal economy for generations—is probably 30–40 percent. The median household income is $24,600. There is a 70 percent high school dropout rate, with only 13 percent of students managing to pass the state’s proficiency exams in math. The city is planning $28 million in draconian budget cuts, with officials talking about cutting 25 percent from every department, including layoffs of nearly half the police force. The proposed slashing of the public library budget by almost two-thirds has left the viability of the library system in doubt.

Camden is where those discarded as human refuse are dumped, along with the physical refuse of postindustrial America. A sprawling sewage treatment plant on forty acres of riverfront land processes 58 million gallons of wastewater a day for Camden County. The stench of sewage lingers in the streets. There is a huge trash-burning plant that releases noxious clouds, a prison, a massive cement plant and mountains of scrap metal feeding into a giant shredder. The city is scarred with several thousand decaying abandoned row houses; the skeletal remains of windowless brick factories and gutted gas stations; overgrown vacant lots filled with garbage and old tires; neglected, weed-filled cemeteries; and boarded-up store fronts.

Corruption is rampant, with three mayors sent to prison in a little more than two decades. Five police officers, two of whom are out on bail and three of whom have pleaded guilty, have been charged with planting evidence, making false arrests and trading drugs for information from prostitutes. County prosecutor Warren Faulk has had to drop charges against some 200 suspects, including some who’d spent years in prison, because of the misconduct. The city is dominated by an old-time party boss, George Norcross III. Although he does not live in Camden, his critics contend that he decides who runs for office and who does not, who gets city and state contracts and which projects get funded. Tens of millions in state funds have been used for city projects, from an aquarium on the waterfront to a new law school to an expansion of the Cooper University Hospital and construction of a medical school. In 2002 the state approved a $175 million recovery package to save the city, but according to a yearlong investigation by the Philadelphia Inquirer, only 5 percent had been used to combat crime, improve schools, provide jobs or bolster municipal services. Those who oppose Norcross insist he has turned the poverty and despair of Camden into a business. His critics charge that the new medical school, for example, was approved because it was part of a back-room deal Governor Jon Corzine cut with Norcross in Corzine’s failed re-election bid. When I met with him, Norcross dismissed the allegations and defended his huge infrastructure projects as crucial to revitalizing the bleak downtown.

Camden, like America, was once an industrial giant. It employed some 36,000 workers in its shipyards during World War II and built some of the nation’s largest warships. It was the home to major industries, from RCA Victor to the New York Ship Building Corporation and Campbell’s Soup, which still has its international headquarters in a gated section of Camden but no longer makes soup in the city. Camden was a destination for Italian, German, Polish and Irish immigrants, who in the middle of the last century could find decent-paying jobs that required little English or education. The city’s population has fallen by more than 40 percent from its 1950 level of 120,000. There are no movie theaters or hotels. There are lots with used cars but no dealerships that sell new vehicles. The one supermarket is located on the city’s outskirts, away from the endemic street crime.

There are perhaps a hundred open-air drug markets, most run by gangs like the Bloods, the Latin Kings, Los Nietos and MS-13. Knots of young men in black leather jackets and baggy sweatshirts sell weed and crack to clients, many of whom drive in from the suburbs. The drug trade is one of the city’s few thriving businesses. A weapon, police say, is never more than a few feet away, usually stashed behind a trash can, in the grass or on a porch. Camden is awash in guns, easily purchased across the river in Pennsylvania, where gun laws are lax.

Camden is the poster child of postindustrial decay. It stands as a warning of what huge pockets of the United States could turn into as we cement into place a permanent underclass of the unemployed, slash state and federal services in a desperate bid to cut massive deficits, watch cities and states go bankrupt and struggle to adjust to a stark neofeudalism in which the working and middle classes are decimated.

* * *

I found the city’s homeless congregated in a collection of blue and gray tents, protected by tarps, set up under the shelter of a Route 676 ramp. The tent city, or “Transitional Park,” was overseen by Lorenzo “Jamaica” Banks, 57, who bought damaged tents from Wal-Mart and Kmart at a reduced price, repaired them and provided them to the homeless—at $10 a pop, police told me. Banks insisted he offered them for free.

When I walked into the encampment with my colleague, comics artist Joe Sacco, Banks was chopping firewood. A man with receding black hair and a beard, Banks was dressed in carpenter’s jeans and a plaid shirt over a gray hooded sweatshirt. There were about fifty tents in the park, and Banks owned forty of them. He spoke in the drumbeat staccato of a man who seems about to snap at any moment. He claimed to be a Vietnam vet, to have been a heroin addict now “clean for thirty-seven years,” to have ended up after the war in a mental institution, to have jumped off the Ben Franklin Bridge in a suicide attempt because of “a lot of flashbacks” and to have spent “twenty-two years, six months, three hours and thirty-three seconds” in prison for shooting to death his best friend because he was “killing his baby in front of me.”

“I’m better now,” he assured us as the commuter train into Philadelphia rumbled along the tracks overhead. “I’m on medication. I live here because it reminds me of the jungle.”

Banks, who called himself “the mayor,” ran the tent city, which had a population of about sixty, ranging in age from 18 to 76, like a military encampment. He had a second-in-command, his “CEO,” who took over when Banks had to buy supplies. There were weekly tent inspections on Saturday, weekly meetings every Tuesday night and a list of sixteen rules written on plywood tacked to a tree. These included restrictions on fighting and arguing, admonishments to clean up the trash, an order not to sell food stamps and several other blunt prohibitions, including: “Don’t bring your tricks here” and “No borrowing money or sex from anyone.” Residents received two warnings for infractions before they were evicted. Drugs were banned. Alcohol was not. Banks had even set up a bank account for the enclave. At night there were shifts when someone—Banks said he preferred a vet—had to stand guard. There was a Dumpster filled with trash at the edge of the encampment, white folding tables with white plastic chairs and five-gallon plastic water containers outside many tents. Firewood lay scattered about the site.

“Take a look at the American Dream,” Banks said as he guided us through the tents, stepping around rusted bicycles and shopping carts. “In today’s society no one is exempt from Transitional Park. Everybody is one paycheck away from being here.”

Officially, Camden has 775 homeless, but there are only 220 beds in the county, so city officials nervously tolerated the encampment, despite its illegality, until late spring, when they swiftly dismantled it. Those tossed out scattered, and about a half-dozen migrated to live in squalor under the concrete ramps of Route 676, where it runs across the river into Philadelphia.

Camden’s streets are filled with the unemployed. Ali Sloan El, who recently got out of prison, is chatting with some men in the street, several of whom are Muslims like him and have shaved heads and long black beards. The group of men around Sloan El have just witnessed a botched robbery at a barbershop a few minutes before Joe and I arrive. A young gunman, nervous and unsure of himself, had pulled out a pistol and tried to rob the barbers. He was chased out of the shop by a group of men and tackled on the sidewalk. One of the barbers is at the police station filing a report.

The mood inside the shop is hostile. “How did you know about the stickup?” asks a barber who says his name is Sam. “We were told about it on the street,” I answer. He arches his eyebrows in disbelief. “No one would talk to you on the street. No one would tell you nothin’,” he says coldly. “A mother with a 2-year-old in a stroller told us,” I tell him. “Yeah,” he admitted reluctantly, “maybe that’s right, maybe a mother would talk.”

The rumor on the street, Sloan El informs us, is that the robber was high on a narcotic called wet. The drug of choice of Camden’s criminal class, wet is made by soaking marijuana in embalming fluid, which is a mixture of formaldehyde, methanol, ethanol and other solvents. Phencyclidine, or PCP, known on the street as angel dust, is often added to the mix. Wet is smoked dry but the leaves, which glisten, give the drug its liquid name. Wet numbs its users and endows them with what seems to them like superhuman strength. Their body temperatures rise, their blood pressure drops and they frequently hallucinate. The high can last up to six hours. Two Camden police officers who do not want to be named tell us they fear confronting street thugs on wet. “You shoot them and they just keep coming,” one says warily.

Those who do not join street gangs live like minnows, darting through the currents to avoid the predatory fish. Darnell Monroe, 33, wearing a new pair of brown Timberlands, a black leather jacket, jeans and a black-and-white checked kaffiyeh as a scarf, sits with us in the barbershop. One of the barbers immediately turns up the radio to a deafening roar, I suspect to drive us out. Monroe, also a Muslim, is a tall man with a shaved head and a full black beard. He spent four years in prison for dealing drugs. He became a father when he was 13. The mother was 16. “I’m sociable,” he says when I ask him about surviving in Camden, “but I keep moving. I don’t want to draw the wrong kind of attention. I don’t want a conflict.”

Monroe was shot three times in the stomach in 1998, when he was coming out of a bar and tried to break up a fight. “To this day I don’t know who shot me,” he says. He awoke in the hospital twelve weeks later. His kidney, liver and upper and lower intestine had been badly damaged. He lifts his shirt and exposes a massive scar on his stomach that looks like a brownish mountain range with jagged edges. “It was a .380 automatic,” he says. Until he was laid off last year, Monroe had a job as a forklift operator in the scrap yards by the port. On the back of his right hand is a tattoo of a padlock with his current wife’s initials, EGK, and under his left eye is a tattooed teardrop he got in jail, in 1993, when his sister died.

The city is busily cannibalizing itself in a desperate bid to generate revenue. Giant scrap piles rise in hulks along the banks of the Delaware. The piles, filled with discarded appliances, rusted filing cabinets, twisted pipes, old turbines and corrugated sheet metal, are as high as a three- or four-story house, and at their base are large pools of brackish water. A crane, outfitted with a large magnet, sways over the pile and swings scrap over to a shredding machine. A pickup and a U-Haul filled with old refrigerators, gates, screen doors and pipes are unloading in front of a small booth when we arrive. There are about twenty scrap merchants in the city, and they have created a market for the metal guts of apartments and houses. As soon as a house is empty—even if only for a few days between renters or because it is being painted—the hustlers break in and strip every pipe, radiator, screen door and window. Over the past three or four decades thousands of owners, faced with the destruction, have walked away from their properties. Camden produces a million tons of scrap a year. Its huge shredding machines in the port can chop up automobiles and stoves into chunks the size of a baseball. Ships from Turkey, China and India pull into the port and take the scrap back to smelters in their countries.

The only white people visible daily on the city’s streets are the hookers. Congregated near the highway ramps on Ferry Street, most are heroin addicts and nearly all are infected with AIDS, hepatitis C or other sexually transmitted diseases. The women sleep in abandoned apartments without running water, heat or electricity.

If arresting someone on wet is the least pleasant duty for Camden police, arresting hookers is the second. “Ninety-nine percent of them are heroin addicts,” a sergeant tells us. “I try not to deal with them. They have diseases. You pat them down and you find needles. You can get stuck with a needle. And they have MRSA, a skin disease with open sores. We have to get our cars disinfected afterward. Ninety-five percent have outstanding warrants, although they usually give us a wrong name.”

* * *

Despite Camden’s bleakness, despite its crime and its deprivation, despite the lost factory jobs that are never coming back—despite all this, valiant souls somehow rise up in magnificent defiance. In a room across the street from Sacred Heart Catholic Church, where meals are provided for the homeless on Saturdays, a group of African-American women bow their heads over a table and hold hands. They are led by Lallois Davis, 67, a heavyset woman who radiates an indomitable, unbroken spirit.

“The poor have to help the poor,” Davis says, “because the ones who make the money are helping the people with money.”

Davis raised four children and then, when a neighbor died, leaving behind her two orphaned grandsons, Davis took them in and raised them as well. She wears a large cross around her neck. She is known as Aunt Lallois.

“My heart is heavy,” says a 69-year-old woman named Brenda Hayes, her head bowed and her eyes shut. “There is so much heaviness. It is wounding me. How can I not worry?”

“Yes, Jesus. Yes, Jesus,” the other women respond.

“I know you didn’t carry us this far to drop us now,” she says. “I know there is no burden so heavy that we can’t carry it with your help. I thank you, Lord, for friends who have carried me through the roughest times.”

“Yes, Jesus. Nothing is impossible with you, Jesus,” the women say.

“Bodies,” Hayes says after the prayer. “Bodies out back. Bodies upstairs. People stabbed. I don’t go out at night. The last one was twenty feet away from me on my floor. There was one kid, he lived in the back of the projects, 18 years old. They buried him two months ago. Gunshot. There were four kids I knew murdered, one in the parking lot who was killed last year. He was 12 or 13. He was sleeping—some say he was living—in a car.”

“There are parents who are addicts who send their children out to sell drugs,” Hayes adds. “I know a mother who is a prostitute. Her oldest daughter sells weed to go to school, and one day the mother stole the weed and sold it to buy crack.”

Father Michael Doyle, an Irish priest, has been in the Sacred Heart parish for thirty-five years. He has witnessed the violence of poverty devastating his congregation. Father Doyle was a member of the Camden 28, a group of left-wing Catholics and anti–Vietnam War activists who in 1971 raided the city’s draft board to destroy files. He was sent to Camden as punishment by church leaders who disapproved of his activism.

“Today’s a very hard time to be poor,” says Father Doyle, seated in the church rectory. “Because you know you’re poor. You hear people my age get up and say, ‘We were poor. We put cardboard in our shoes.’ We talk like that. But we didn’t know we were poor. Today you do. And how do you know you’re poor? Your television shows you that you’re poor. So it’s very easy to build up anger in a, say, a high-voltage kid of 17. He knows he’s poor, he looks at the TV and all these people have everything and I have nothing. And so he’s very angry…. I’m talking about the violence that rises out of the marketing that shows the kid what he could have, creates a huge anger that explodes easily. That I discovered very quickly when I came to Camden. I discovered the anger was so near the surface, you just rub it and it explodes. And there’s no respect for you if you have no money.”

I ask him why the rage is invariably self-destructive. “They can’t get at it,” he said. “You have an enemy, and that enemy is greed and prejudice and injustice and all that type of thing, but you can’t get at it. There’s no head, there’s no clarity, so you take it out on your neighbor. It’s just horrendous what people do.”

“Women have some dignity in a poor ghetto because they bear children and raise them,” Father Doyle goes on. “Men are adding nothing and feeding from the trough. A woman walks down the street pushing a little cart, and a child on it—she’s somebody. But the man standing watching her is nobody.”

It is a bleak, rainy afternoon when we visit Harleigh Cemetery. Walt Whitman’s tomb, based on a design drawn by William Blake, is here with its heavy stone front and peaked roof with the poet’s name in imposing stone letters. So is the grave of another Camden poet, Nicholas Virgilio, who, as Father Doyle says, “mined beauty out of the gutters of Camden.” Virgilio died of a heart attack in 1989. The priest designed his grave in the shape of a podium. One of the poet’s verses is engraved on the stone:

out of the water…
out of itself.

Virgilio, who wrote his poems in his basement under a naked light bulb next to his washing machine, chronicled the slow strangulation of his city. The hookers knitting baby booties on a bus; sitting alone as he orders eggs and toast in an undertone on Thanksgiving; latchkey children “exploring the wild on public television”; the frozen body of a drunk found on a winter morning in a cardboard box labeled “Fragile: Do Not Crush”; as well as laments for his brother Larry, killed in Vietnam. I open his thin book, Selected Haiku, to a passage and place it on the marble top of his grave. Droplets of rain splatter the page:

the sack of kittens

sinking in the icy creek

increases the cold