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Twin cities caught in the crossfire

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

Jersey City police said they shot a troubled woman dead after she cut one officer on the hand and grazed another on the head with a knife. Meanwhile, in Newark, Mayor Corey Booker is trying to keep everyone from seeing that he, too, is trapped in a war zone.

Hudson County Prosecutor Ed DeFazio said the unnamed officers in Tuesday night’s incident found the mentally ill woman holding a knife when they responded at 9:20 p.m. to what was characterized as a domestic dispute on Van Wagenen Avenue
— just blocks from where slain Jersey City Police Officer Marc DiNardo will be waked tomorrow.

The woman, 58-year-old Martina Brown, 58, had locked herself in her apartment and refused to answer the door, he said.

Eventually, the  Emergency Services Unit (ESU) got the door open and found Brown wielding a large kitchen knife, DeFazio said. The officers tried talking to her but she came at them, he said.

This is what the urban streets have come to, amid a recession that has left several police departments redeploying manpower. Two days ago, a pair of Jersey City youths were arrested for beating, stripping and raping a woman right on a city street.

Just the other night, a trio of teenage gunmen rammed four police cruisers and opened fire during a chase that began after a street robbery. No one was hit, but seven officers suffered minor injuries.

Meanwhile, bullets flew in Newark again yesterday, injuring two women. Police are seeking the shooters.

At the same time, they’re trying to solve other shootings this week that left three dead — one of them a 35-year-old bystander and mother of two — and seven wounded.

Booker has taken to the online stage this week, with repeated Facebooks postings about refusing to accept violence, reclaiming the streets and remaining hopeful.

“We will not tolerate these targeted acts of violence in our city,” Booker said. “It is unacceptable, and we remain determined to drive the level of violence down in Newark.”

Booker is likable, charasmatic, thoughtful. But he presiding over a cornerstone North Jersey City that has once again become a tinderbox, a mini-model of the Middle East.

Since the slayings of three college-bound friends in a schoolyard in 2007 brought worldwide attention to violent crime in Newark, anti-crime measures have included camera surveillance.

Still, the killings continue.

Booker blames the easy availability of firearms, in a state with some of the strictest gun laws in the nation. He also says parents should take more active roles with their children without acknowledging the conditions of many of these parents.

The tug for authorities in urban America is always how best to create the image of control — either by a show of force or by easing up. Many know of the 60s riots from what they’ve heard from parents or other loved ones. Yet a similar hatred is simmering between the armed forces, just waiting for that one match to ignite it.

What if the weather suddenly turns blistering hot? What if some type of peace march is organized and gets out of control? What if a video camera captures a senseless beating or death?

|Terrorists are holed up everywhere, it seems, yet no one seems able to flush them out.Amid the guerilla war, law-abiding citizens have to work, shop, bring their kids back and forth. And all the while they have to hope they’re not caught in a crossfire.

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