In an attempt to capture the rebel fort deep within in the ice planet that is Nam's frozen food section, the Galactic Empire has deployed its evil beast machines to storm the bodega and leave no one alive! Flee down Franklin Avenue, ye freedom-loving rebel sympathizers! This explains the child I saw on a skateboard with a lightsaber earlier this week.
Ludicrous nerdery aside (though I did see a kid on a skateboard with a lightsaber yesterday, and it was awesome), that's the Skywatch, aka the NYPD's Mobile Surveillance Unit, making an appearance at St. John's and Franklin after a rash of shootings and other crime in the area (it was set up sometime during the day on Monday). The officer on the ground when I went by this morning was very friendly and informative, and told me that the location of the unit was a direct response to the shooting on this block a few days ago (which poster laveye noted on the Brooklyian thread about the Nostrand murder). He said that the Skywatch will be there for at least a few more days, accompanied by increased street patrols, with the goal of averting any retaliation or further violence. The corner is also somewhat notorious as a hangout for dealers and their affiliated gangs (one of whom, shouting "Franklin Soldiers," grabbed all the ice out of the cooler in front of Nam's and threw it across the street at some kids the other night), so their activity should be curtailed in the near future as well.
For those concerned about crime in the neighborhood, Nostrand Park has some prevention tips and advice posted, along with links to some local data and stats. The New York Times, in what appears to be their annual "crime increases in the summer" article (they ran one 102 years ago, in 1907!), linked to a very detailed map of homicides since 2003 that they intend to update regularly. If you're really concerned, you can wait for a rainy day to do your errands on the Avenue.
Finally, if you'd prefer to think of Brooklyn as a beautiful place to live, check out this great slideshow and article on Gowanus photographer Jose Gaytan, whose work is on display at the Brooklyn Library's Central Branch through August 29th.