NEWS

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November 21, 2007

Christian Prince

When I first heard about the Amadou Cisse killing I immediately thought of the murder of Suzanne Jovin. Jovin was a Yale undergrad that was found stabbed to death off campus in 1997. But after writing half a post on the Jovin case (which got nationwide attention after a visiting professor was implicated as a vengeful scorned lover) I realized that the Jovin and Cisse cases weren't similar at all.However, an earlier incident that happened at Yale is quite similar.In 1991 Christian Prince was shot in New Haven as a robbery went bad. Prince was a Yale undergrad at the time. The Yale Daily News summarizes what reportedly happened:

Duncan Fleming had stopped the car, approached [Christian] Prince with a pistol and demanded his money, Randy Fleming said.After Prince handed over his wallet, the witness continued, Duncan Fleming struck him with the gun, knocking Prince to the ground, and said, "I ought to shoot this cracker."Duncan Fleming then fired a single shot into Prince's body, Randy Fleming said.He added that Duncan Fleming dropped the wallet, which was found across the street from Prince's body, in his haste to return to the car.
Ultimately, the witness that reported those events recanted and the state could only get a conviction for conspiracy to commit murder. In 2001, Fleming was already out on parole.The most tragic part of the Prince murder is that after he was shot, Prince tried to walk to the Yale Health Plan. He made it to St. Mary's church, where he fell on the steps and died. Sadly, St. Mary's church is only about 50 yards from the Health Plan.Of course, there is a reason I bring this up. It is a strikingly similar situation to the Amadou Cisse killing last night at the U of C. In the wake of the Prince killing Yale took a number of steps to improve campus security.By in large, I'd say they have succeeded. When I walk around downtown New Haven at night I feel much safer than when I walk around Hyde Park. But, that's not because of Yale's police call boxes (with blue lights) or well lit streets. Yale has gone to great lengths the past ten (or so) years to develop a couple of areas in New Haven. Shops stay open late which gives people a reason to be outside. Of course, the more people that are out and about, the less likely a criminal will get away with whatever they have planned. That tends to discourage the crime from the start. The sad fact is that past 10pm, any Hyde Park resident walking around Hyde Park is a sitting duck. The neighborhood seems to just shut down. People mug students and residents because it is so easy.This is a critical dimension of the debate on development in Hyde Park and it's one that people tend to completely ignore. Bringing in shops and hotels might increase population density in the area, but it will also get people out on the sidewalks in Hyde Park. It will give students a reason to leave their dorms and apartments, which will, among many other positive things, make Hyde Park a safer place in the long run.