What killing says about Nicetown

A mural in a Nicetown park depicts a matriarch presenting a turkey dinner to smiling relatives.

Its message bespeaks social order, homey virtues, and veneration of the old – precisely the notions that were shattered last Monday when a well-regarded, 68-year-old handyman was shot on Rowan Street.  The daylight killing of Lawrence Bennett, allegedly by Tyrone Roberson, 17, has riled and disconcerted Nicetown, an impoverished neighborhood of sporadic violence bifurcated by the Roosevelt Expressway and Germantown Avenue in a postindustrial sector of North Philadelphia.

“Ordinarily, the elderly in Nicetown are given respect by virtue of their age,” said Police Capt. Stephen Glenn of the 39th District. “People don’t think the shooting is justified in any way, shape, or form.  “So I don’t quite understand this.”  Others say they do.

“Yes, it’s unusual a young guy kills an older one,” said Mary Suttles, 66, a community liaison from City Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller’s office and a longtime Nicetown resident. “But there’s no respect anymore. Kids don’t care any more about an old person than anyone else.

“Lack of jobs, drugs, and bad education are to blame. It’s depressing.”

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