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Over the past few months, my e-mail inbox has been filled with the same viral video. Sent by friends, obviously shared many times over, the video depicts a lonely security guard near Underground Atlanta attempting to maintain a modicum of order so some level of commercial activity can exist at the Metro Mall.
With a video camera strapped to his chest, Darien Long has broadcast to the world the type of day-to-day tasks and demeanor necessary to provide security in what amounts to Third World conditions not far from Olympic Centennial Park.
There’s a reason the recently retired Neal Boortz lashed out that Atlanta needed a “few more dead thugs” a couple of years back, only to be excoriated by the compassionate left for doing so. When you watch Darien attempt to keep loiterers out of the Metro Mall in downtown Atlanta – in one case, having to use a taser on one woman as her three young children taunt him using foul language (warning: explicit language) – it’s only natural that you side with his version of “law and order.”
It frames Boortz’ rant in a whole different perspective, too.
Back when the video of Long’s initial confrontation went viral, the Atlanta Journal Constitution scored an interview with him. In that revealing article, the conditions of the economic terrain he tries to provide security paint a Mad Max-style world lurking in the shadows of government buildings:
Metro Mall is located in the heart of Five Points, shouting distance from federal buildings, the Georgia State Capitol, Atlanta City Hall and the Fulton County Courts.
Yet, the area tingles with crime and vice. Prostitutes roam freely and drug dealers ply their trade in broad daylight, while lawyers and government workers go to work and college students try to get to class.
Welcome to Long’s world, which is not without risk. Among the thousands of online comments praising him on social media are also ominous warnings about his safety.
“My mother is afraid one of these fools is gonna shoot me in the back,” Long said. “A lot of people think I need more protection. They are probably right.”
Prostitutes, drug dealers, lawyers and government workers all working together to create crime and vice, right?
No, those lawyers and government workers quickly retreat from the area just as soon as their 9-5 day ends, leaving a man like Darien Long behind to capture a compelling look at why urban America is often a difficult backdrop for businesses to succeed.
Just look at the extraordinary measures he must take to try and keep bad elements from overrunning the mall; he’s tasked with providing security too, and you immediately realize why so few legitimate businesses can stay open in this type of environment.
Not far away from the mall Long works to protect is a Waffle House at Underground Atlanta that charges customers a 20 percent surcharge to help cover the costs for a security guard.
You read the last paragraph correctly.
A 20 percent surcharge to – in the words of the vice president of Waffle House – “ensure the safety of our employees and customers. In an effort to be proactive we are being upfront and adding a 20 percent surcharge to help offset the cost of private security.”
When you watch the footage Long has captured while on his security duty, it shouldn’t be difficult to understand why such a 20 percent surcharge is necessary to safely enjoy a waffle.
Is your life worth an additional 20 percent tax on a meal already grossly high on the calories side?
This is the type of world Darien Long fought to bring order and justice to, and for his unorthodox actions became an Internet sensation.
For those on the left who blasted Neal Boortz for his on-air tirade about “more dead thugs” needed in Atlanta to make the city safer, you can rest easy knowing Darien Long recently lost his job providing security to the Metro Mall.
It can go back to being just another business overrun with prostitutes and drug dealers, an area not far from where lawyers and government workers spend their days willfully ignoring the anarchy outside their windows.
While the pimps, prostitutes and thugs (who have contributing to creating a situation in Atlanta where a Waffle House must charge customers 20 percent extra to hire a security guard) rejoice in Long’s firing, one vendor at the Metro Mall shined a light on the small act of heroism his presence produced.
Francisca Shokane, an owner of the hair salon at the mall, said, “Before they hired Darien, they used to rob our customers and snatch pursues,” Shokane told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Now it is much better and safer. They don’t come in here and bother us anymore.”
Those living in the suburbs of not just Atlanta, but any major city in America, can watch the videos Darien Long took while on security patrol and immediately have their prejudices and stereotypes of these urban areas confirmed.
Immediately, they have visual proof of why they avoid these areas.
But it is in the actions of one man, Darien Long, that you see the type of mentality necessary to restore order from the chaos and anarchy of these urban areas. That will continue to require legitimate business to charge a 20 percent surcharge on meals if they are to stay open.
To paraphrase Neal Boortz, “Atlanta and urban America don’t need more dead thugs. They need men with the character and tenacity of Darien Long to step forward and restore order.”