Friday, May 21, 2010

Rest In Peace, Work for Change

A memorial gathered around the lamppost at Franklin and Lincoln over the past two days, along with posters from Save Our Streets Crown Heights, an anti-violence program of the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center. Meanwhile, many local residents attended an emergency town hall meeting, covered here by the Brooklyn Eagle. May their efforts not be in vain.


  1. Nick, thanks for your efforts to rally the community following this tragedy. It's Friday evening, and I just arrived home after exiting the Franklin Shuttle station on Park Place at 12:20AM, only to have one of the most fearful experiences of my life... a lone gunman shooting at at sidewalk from the rooftop of a nearby building. As we ran to avoid the bullets, we realized he was aiming at us and fellow pedestrians. In hindsight, we believe it was most likely a bb gun, but following yesterday's fatal incident this was utterly terrifying - not to mention the behavior of the police who arrived on the scene which was completely unacceptable. I'm not sure what should be done now and would appreciate some community feedback and advice.
    Read my Brooklyinian post here: here:

  2. What's with the red shirt...

  3. I'm not sure having a gang-colored memorial is the best way to create a culture of peace.

  4. ...not everyone works for peace, or feels that peace is the right response to violence..

  5. people who'd rather avoid further gang violence might?

  6. sure.

    ...but is that the likely first response when your fellow gang member or family member was killed?

    gang members and families are often the ones to set up shrines. Their agenda is either to remember that particular victim, or avenge their death.

    ....neighborhood activists rarely know the deceased. Thier agenda is to break a cycle of violence. The activists hold meetings; they don't build shrines.

  7. i am so disgusted with this. Crown Heights is obviously changing for the better and its our responsibility to do something about this violence. (business owners included: franklin park/dutch boy, pulp & bean, chavella's, bristens, breuklen). there are new tax dollars being poured into the community and we need to be heard by these local politicians/77th precint. if we dont do this it will be the same ol' neighborhood activists from the 80s who are still being ignored. what can we do? how did all these other neighborhoods change? ie. ft greene, red hook, clinton hill, carroll gardens (gowanus border)

  8. Before I start talking about anything else, I want to send my condolences to family and friends, I am saddened by your loss.

    Unchecked speculations about the red shirt at the memorial offers little to an honest discussion about the in violence Crown Heights. The shooting may have had something to do with gangs, or red may simply have been the man's favorite color; we don't have enough facts (that I've seen) to know and its leaping to conclusions to argue otherwise.

    Its not unreasonable to bring gangs into a discussion on violence in the neighborhood, there are gangs here. What bugs me about the way that it has been brought up on these two threads, past the fact that its utter speculation to begin with, is the suggestion that its an obvious answer. No, it is the convenient answer. By saying that it is gangs you can jump right to "blame the victim" rhetoric. If they were engaged in gang activity, the death seems less random and somehow less awful. However, no matter what led this event to occur, it is a tragedy. The possibility that he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time still does exist. Even if the facts show that he was in a gang, uninvolved people do get caught up in gun fights, in fact in December of 2007 right around the corner on EP a woman was killed by a stray bullet[1]. From what I remember of her memorial, there was a lot of red there also.

    What creates violence within Crown Heights is a complicated issue, with lots of contributing factors; historically crime goes up in recessions, the unemployment rate in the black community (particularly among men) occurs at a much higher rate than in the rest of the population. Furthermore its not just gangs who sell drugs in the community, and beyond that, not every drug dealer on Franklin is violent or even that threatening. The problem isn't just drugs, or just gangs, or just bad enforcement, or just guns its all of that and more.

    It should also be noted that despite the recent up-tick, there has been a nationwide drop in all violent crime over the past few decades, and and even larger one in NYC. The murder rate here is still the lowest its been since the city started keeping reliable records in 1962. The actual number of murders in New York is only roughly twice that of Baltimore's, but New York's population is roughly thirteen times as large. That means that even New York's worst areas aren't that bad by national standards, and that they are a far cry from the heights that they hit in the seventies and eighties.

    To the question of how other gentrified neighborhoods have handled crime, while it varies some place to place, it has largely been done through displacement and replacement. Certain types of crime are statistically higher in poor communities of color, if you no longer have a poor community of color the statistics change with the expected averages. The hazard of this method is that the replacement becomes total, so instead of having a community that is diverse along racial/ethnic lines as well as economic classes, you end up with a certain homogeneity of class, and often a large shift in racial demography. Ultimately this strategy just pushes poor people further out from the city's core, relocating the statistical trends and not addressing any of the underlying problems in a sustainable way. That's really our challenge in CH, how do we create a revitalized neighborhood that keeps this area diverse and provides the kind of safety that the people who have lived here for a long time have always deserved. The neighborhood's safety simply shouldn't come through the loss of those neighbors.


  9. There seems to be a consensus among everyone who I have spoken to. The consensus is, zero tolerance for violence on Franklin. Starting right now. No more. We have had enough. We will not tolerate this violence in our community.
    So, what do we do?
    To start we would like every person that reads this - or talks to someone who has read it- to call the Community Affairs Officer Sacha Pierre-Louis at the 77th precinct at this number (718) 735-0634 if there is no answer (it does not go to voicemail) you can call the precinct (718) 735-0611 press 0 for the operator and ask for Officer Sacha Pierre-Louis.

    The idea is to say the same thing when we call so we have a unified, informed voice. When you call, please say something like this:

    Hello, My name is _________ , I live/work/commute/shop near Franklin avenue and I am extremely concerned about the recent shooting that occurred last week at 11am on Wed. May 19th at Franklin and Lincoln. Can you tell me what is being done by the 77th in response to the shooting? Will there be increased patrols? What can we do as a community to make sure the violence does not escalate over the summer?

    This call is short - the idea is to make sure the 77th knows we care. There is a new Commanding Officer- Captain Capocci and he has made himself very accessible at community meetings so far. He has said he wants to hear from the community. Let's make sure he hears from us!

    Feel free to forward this to everyone you know in the neighborhood. Let's get the word out and work to make sure this summer is SAFE.

    Contact me - if you have any questions or ideas for community actions to address this crisis.

    Susan Boyle

  10. Just had a long phone conversation with Officer Pierre-Louis. He was very friendly, but did not indicate that the precinct has any plans for any additional anything in response to the shooting. He emphasized that shootings are up all over the city and that the 77th is a very large precinct. He kept asking me whether I was a business owner--so perhaps hearing from business owners in the area would make a bigger impression on the police and get a better response. I think Susan's suggestion is a good one though; can't hurt for everyone to call him, and attend the CHCA meetings, which is something he also suggested.

  11. This is a example of the times we live in. Distructive not to socity but ourselves.Crown heights is a beautiful place that has now make a turn for the worst.This man was loved and respected by his community and was shot down in cold blood.Ignorance plays a part in the spike in violence in this area and we as residence need to work with police to stop this.

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