In 1985, David M. Kennedy visited Nickerson Gardens, a public housing complex in south-central Los Angeles. It was the beginning of the crack epidemic, and Nickerson Gardens was located in what was then one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in America.
“It was like watching time-lapse photography of the end of the world,” he says. “There were drug crews on the corner, there were crack monsters and heroin addicts wandering around. … It was fantastically, almost-impossibly-to-take-in awful.”
Kennedy, a self-taught criminologist, had a visceral reaction to Nickerson Gardens. In his memoir Don’t Shoot, he writes that he thought: “This is not OK. People should not have to live like this. This is wrong. Somebody needs to do something.”
Great story, lots of surprising humor.