Friday, September 30, 2011

Story Time and a Haunted House at The Candy Rush

Two for the calendar: On the heels of a nice write-up in Time Out New York, the folks at The Candy Rush are hosting a Story Time event for kids this Saturday. They're also planning a haunted house for Halloween itself, October 31st, from 3pm - 9pm (and they're the same folks who put on the Kids' Day, so you know it'll be a good show).

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"We Like It Like That": The Story of Latin Boogaloo Special Screening at LaunchPad Tomorrow

Local filmmaker Mathew Ramirez Warren offers a preliminary screening of his new film at LaunchPad on Thursday. More info below - sounds great!

Come join us for the Brooklyn premier of my documentary We Like It Like That - The Story of Latin Boogaloo on Thursday, September 29th at 8PM at Launchpad Creative Arts Space, 721 Franklin Avenue.

How to get there:
Take the 2,3,4, 5 or S shuttle train to Franklin Avenue in Brooklyn.

The film is still a work in progress, and the screening is a fundraiser to help us reach our Kickstarter goal of $15K so we can complete the final version of the film. Donations are accepted but of course no one will be turned away for a lack of funds.

We will have drinks and snacks so grab a few friends and join us in our celebration of all things boogaloo!

Please come early, as space is limited. Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Not Just Another Bar: 739 Franklin Gets Creative

(construction is moving so fast at 739 Franklin that this week-old photo of their bar in skeletal rebar form is already hopelessly outdated)

A week or so ago, ILFA sat down with the owners of 739 Franklin, a new bar, restaurant, and event space on the most rapidly-developing block of the Avenue (between Park and Sterling), to hear about their vision for the place. The brainchild of co-owners Glenn and Arianna DeRoche and manager Daniel Rico, the "bar and lounge" will ideally be a laid-back, friendly spot, "a place to take a break" according to Rico. 

Laid back, but with some unique creative touches: Mr. DeRoche, trained as an architect, designed the space with partners from his past life, and it should be an interesting one. Features will include custom furniture made with reclaimed wood from barns in Maine and the Maritime Provinces of Canada, exposed brick and similarly weathered wood paneling on the walls, and a 500-bulb light installation inspired by a Jeff Wall photograph. DeRoche is quick to add that only a few of those bulbs will actually be lit, as sustainability is another organizing principle for 739. Along with the reclaimed wood, the bar will sport organic beers and wines, energy-efficient fixtures and appliances, and produce from an organic farm in Vermont on the menu. That menu, perhaps best described as "bar food beyond the fryer," is in development in collaboration with a Parisian chef, and will feature small bites as well as sandwiches and panini. They're also hoping to partner with well-liked brunch spots around the city to host catered Sunday brunches that will bring, according to DeRoche, the "best of the city" to Franklin Avenue.

The space itself is surprisingly large, with a comfortable front room where the bar is located and a spacious, well-lit back room that DeRoche and Rico hope to use as an events space for everything from "Movie Mondays" (a projector is being installed) to live music, readings, and open mics. They'll also make the walls available as a gallery space for local artists and curators if there is interest.  While, like any new business, they can't be exactly sure when they'll open, they're aiming for October at the moment, and they will be hiring locally, so be on the lookout for their "help wanted" sign. Until then, stop in whenever they're working - they're a friendly bunch and they're taking suggestions. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Plant Daffodils with the CHCA (and other notes from Tuesday's Meeting)

(The lady, who worked for years at a garden nursery, insists that I correctly identify the flowers in the planter box above as hostas, even though this post is about daffodils. Still, it's the best photo I've got of a CHCA planter, and I just ran daffodil photos, so I'm keeping it).

This was supposed to go up on Wednesday evening, but better late than never, right? At any rate, there's a complete rundown of the news and notes from Tuesday's Crow Hill Community Association Meeting below, but I wanted to lead with the fall planting of daffodils. If you're new to the area, Franklin Avenue blooms with daffodils every spring thanks to the efforts of the CHCA's Go Green Go Clean Committee and the Daffodil Project, a citywide initiative memorializing 9/11 through local plantings. Journalist Andie Park contributed a great piece about this ongoing project two weeks ago, for which the CHCA won an award this past year.

Daffodils bloom in the spring only if planted in the fall,and the CHCA has set aside two Sundays in October for this very purpose, October 2 and October 16. If you'd like to participate, email them at chca{at}crowhillcommunity{dot}com. 

More updates:

- Saadia Z. Adossa, the Deputy Director of the Brooklyn District Attorney's Community Relations Bureau, came out to offer support for community members and solicit help investigating crime and violence in Crown Heights. She noted that the DA's office runs a wide variety of youth and community programs aimed at prevention, substance abuse treatment, and alternative sentencing and re-entry for offenders, and that their neighborhood office at St. Gregory the Great is open to discuss these programs and community concerns from 9-5 every Thursday. She also encouraged people with information about criminal activity to be in touch  with the NYPD and the DA's office, and noted that communications can be anonymous. Contact her office at 718-250-3187 or adossas{at}brooklynda{dot}org.

- The effort to retain the Impact Zone continues, though the CHCA has not yet received word as to the NYPD's decision. A few concerned folks (including yours truly) suggested that, if the Zone is renewed, the CHCA and the NYPD should work to educate the community about the nature and intentions of the Impact Zone and "zero-tolerance" policing, and should also provide materials advising residents of their rights. There are some good materials out there already (as MikeF noted) - if you've got links, pass them along, and we'll use them as we put together materials.

- Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries made an appearance to speak to his efforts to improve the safety of the area without resorting to stop-and-frisks, of which he is an outspoken critic. Noting that gun "buy-backs" at churches around the city took more weapons off the street in a single day last year than the NYPD collected in an entire year's worth of stop-and-frisks, Jeffries pointed to the decrease in manpower and pressure on precincts to produce numbers as reasons for the increased use of the tactic. He also mentioned recent statements by NYPD spokespeople regarding the unwillingness of people in communities affected by violence over labor day to cooperate with investigations, and suggested that the humiliation associated with stop-and-frisks had poisoned the relationship between these communities and the police. As a result, he observed, these communities had become less safe, subject to "street justice" and mistrustful of police. (It will not surprise frequent readers if I add that ILFA's editorial board of one agrees with the Assemblyman's evaluation). 

- The push to extend the Franklin Avenue Bike Lane all the way to Empire Boulevard (where it hooks up with Prospect Park) continues. Sign petitions at The Candy Rush and Had Associates. You can also sign the petition via email, by sending the following to

send to:


body of email:
We, the undersigned support Crow Hill Community Association’s proposal to convert the 2 existing traffic lanes on Franklin Avenue between Atlantic Avenue and Eastern Parkway to 1 lane of vehicular traffic and 1 designated bike lane. This would make traffic conditions on Franklin Avenue safer for pedestrians as well as create a secure thoroughfare for cyclists continuing on Franklin to Crow Hill/Eastern Parkway/Prospect Park from the designated Franklin Avenue bike lane that currently exists north of Atlantic Avenue.


- The Franklin Avenue Merchants have a great-looking new flyer out and available at local stores - use it to find everything you need on Franklin and to spread the word about great local businesses to friends in the area and beyond.

- Additional events coming up include a bigger and better Halloween Festival (for kids and adults) and the start of fundraising for the Kids Day (aiming even higher this year). Keep an eye out for more information here and the CHCA site. 

- Thanks to the Gospel Tabernacle Church, a citywide Pentecostal group that's been on Franklin since 1984, for hosting us. The CHCA meets every third Tuesday of the month at 7:30. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Openings on Franklin

Great to see so many people at the CHCA meeting last night - a recap of that, with some useful links, is on the way this evening. In the meantime, Away We Go Postal is now open (in the old Bristen's space,) as is the Neptune Diner II on Classon. Has anyone been to either yet? Barboncino, 739 Franklin, (more coming on this new spot in the next day or two as well) and Franklin Avenue Beer and Grocery are all hoping for October openings, and Petezaaz on Classon is underway, too.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Crow Hill Community Association Meeting TONIGHT

The CHCA meets for the first time since June at 7:30 this evening in the Gospel Tabernacle Church (725 Franklin, between Park and Sterling). Looking forward to seeing lots of friendly faces there.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Bob & Betty's, Take Two

After the success they've had with their completely revamped store on Franklin and Lincoln, the Fisher brothers have taken out the permits to remake their other shop across the parkway, the Pioneer on Franklin and Union, in the same fashion. It'll be a while yet, but the wheels are in motion.

"Stop the Shooting"

"Stop the shooting" - this was Reverend Al's message at the funeral of Denise Gay on Sunday, and in any discussion of the events of two weeks ago, this sentiment has to be front and center. Above is a public service announcement from Save Our Streets Crown Heights, who have been using the CeaseFire model (recently documented in the film "The Interrupters") to keep a particularly tough section of Crown Heights shooting-free for what is now nearly 90 days, even as gun violence continues to erupt nearby. There's been a lot of chatter about what can or should be done to respond to shootings, and this shooting in particular, but it's worth highlighting SOS Crown Heights, because what they're doing is working. 

A few thoughts that have been kicking around in relation to all of this:

- Gun control also works - the CHCA sent around this link in advance of their rally two weeks ago, and ILFA urges everyone to take the opportunity to make their voices heard about the need for sensible firearms policies. 

- There's no causal link between the Denise Gay shooting and Carnival, and while there were two incidents at the parade itself (neither fatal, thankfully), those arguing for the end of the event would do well to put the parade in perspective. Organizers should, of course, consult with the community and police to address concerns and make the event safe for revelers and  - as they are already doing - but it's worth remembering that the Columbus Day Parade was once plagued by threats of (and assumptions of, and stereotypes about) mafia violence, and that the St. Patrick's Day parade often generates dozens of arrests and violent incidents. This isn't to suggest that such violence is ever acceptable, of course, but rather to provide a reply to the essentializing suggestion that this parade is somehow different. Large groups of revelers are hard to control, and any festival of this size is a balancing act. Hopefully next year's event will get the balance right. (Local blogger Brooklyn Travel Addict had a nice post about this, as well as some beautiful photos from the parade  as a reminder of the joyful spectacle that 99% of attendees enjoyed peacefully). 

- The New York Post ran video of NYPD officers dancing with masqueraders at the parade, with a response from the NYPD stuffily suggesting that they'll be disciplining the officers. The Trinidadian Carnival tradition, from which the currently polyglot celebration is descended, has long had an anti-authoritarian bent, in which lines of class and power are flouted by masqueraders. Frankly, given how much tension some officers managed to generate, I'm of the opinion that a little participation amounts, in this case, to good policing. 

- With respect to policing, the NYPD's refusal to address serious issues that did come out of the Carnival weekend is getting, after two weeks, more than a little ridiculous, whether it's their insistence that Jumaane Williams was "detained" because someone nearby had punched an officer (a completely nonsensical reaction even if this had happened, and video shows no evidence of it) or their unwillingness to admit that it was most likely a police bullet that killed Denise Gay (with spokespeople clinging instead to a story that unidentified witnesses may have seen the first victim with a gun, even though he didn't use it to protect himself, it doesn't appear on the security video, and the gun was never found, despite the fact that he made it barely 20 yards before collapsing). The first is ass-covering of the basest sort, but the second is equally troubling. Surely no one is going to fault officers for shooting at a man who had just stepped out of his house, murdered someone, and then started firing at police, but even given these extreme circumstances, the NYPD seems afraid of the reaction they might face if they admitted that one of the 73 bullets they fired killed a bystander. Why? It starts with the 73 bullets, an enormous number to spray around a residential street on a hot summer evening. Without faulting the individual officers in the moment, we might begin to question their firepower (semi-automatic pistols), their youth, their training, and the war-zone mentality they bring into neighborhoods like Crown Heights in the context of "zero tolerance" policing and crowd control. These are hard but important questions, questions in which the NYPD would be important interlocutors (Ray Kelly once opposed semi-automatic service weapons), but it would appear that they don't want them raised at all. It's not surprising, but it's frustrating. 

- Finally, I thought the Wall Street Journal's Sumathi Reddy wrote a smart piece contextualizing the events of two weeks ago within our changing neighborhood, a topic that guest blogger Andie Park has also covered recently. Reddy's piece covers different perspectives on policing and power on Franklin, while Park's quotes Assemblyman Jeffries, who noted at the Crow Hill rally that our societal tendency to expend more time and money putting young people from Crown Heights and similar neighborhoods through the criminal justice system than through school is in serious need of rethinking. Agreed - and part of that project is to stop the shooting.  

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Gueros = Good

Finally tried the tacos at Gueros, in the old Oaxaca space, and enjoyed them thoroughly, particularly the fried avocado and jalepeno. They're open 4-11 (12-11 on the weekends), serve beers and margaritas, and deliver for free over $10. Also, the space looks approximately a million times better - softer light, better seating, and a nice paint job.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Seeds in the Middle - Farmers Market Tomorrow

Another great initiative from Seeds in the Middle:

Seeds in the Middle is pleased to announce:



TIME: 3 pm to 7 pm

WHERE: Hamilton Metz Park, Albany/Lefferts Aves., Brooklyn, NY

We welcome Farmer Roy Hildebrant of Iona Hills  in New Jersey!!!



Please pass this on to all neighbors!!

Seeds in the Middle and the community extend profound thanks Sen. Eric Adams, NYC Parks Dept., NY State Agriculture Markets, USDA, Farmers Federation of NY, Empire State Development and all the dedicated employees and neighbors who made this happen!

Seeds in the Middle Seeks Volunteers and Support for Youth Soccer in Crown Heights

Seeds in the Middle, a local nonprofit whose goal is "inspiring social change through sustainable health," has been building an impressive slate of programs for young people in Crown Heights over the past few years. This fall, they're seeking community support to take their youth soccer program to the next level. Currently serving nearly 100 kids at Hamilton Metz Park on Albany and Lefferts, the program, now in its third year, is always in need of volunteers to play and coach soccer with kids. The players come out on Tuesday and Thursday after school and Saturday and Sunday afternoons, starting tomorrow, September 15th. If you've got experience playing or coaching, consider spending some time with them.

Additionally, they are hoping to outfit their players with uniforms this year, and are looking for local businesses to sponsor individual teams. A sponsorship is $300, which buys uniforms (complete with the business's name, of course) and advertising in their materials. If you're a local business owner and looking to give back or get involved, more information can be found here

Seeds in the Middle doesn't just do soccer - check out this excerpt from their newsletter for a better idea of the breadth of their youth programming, and check back here often, as ILFA hopes to post their events and initiatives regularly as they continue to develop.

Stay tuned this month for Crown Heights youth soccer (become a sponsor) for children age 5 to 12 (running for the third year for all kids at low-cost), first-ever Farmers Market in Crown Heights at Hamilton Metz Park with our own farmer, Roy Hildebrant of Iona Hills Farm, zumba at Public School 221 on Empire Boulevard... and more Hip2B Healthy programs. And chefs, food artisans - want to join the first TASTES of Brooklyn at the Borough Hall Greenmarket - partnering restaurants with farmers on Saturday, Oct. 15th, 11:30 am to 3 pm? Let us know. We're growing an annual culinary festival that celebrates our local growers and all Brooklyn's culinary ingenuity! Contact:

Monday, September 12, 2011

77th Precinct Community Council Meeting Tonight

One other event this evening - the 77th Precinct's Community Council will be meeting tonight at 7:30PM at 1575 St. Johns Place (on the corner of Buffalo) at Calvary Community Church. There will be meetings much closer to our corner of Crown Heights in coming months, but for those with concerns about policing (whether on rooftops, at the parade, during the shootout, or in the context of the Impact Zone, to name a few issues discussed on this blog over the past week), this is the best forum in which to air them.

Short Notice: Reading Series Tonight

The Franklin Park Reading Series (recently lauded in The Jewish Week, among its many accolades) returns TONIGHT (Monday) with a reading from "Funny People," including several well-respected locals. Complete information from their Facebook page is copied below. 

I'll be heading to Franklin Park this evening, not just because I always enjoy the readings Penina puts together, but because after a week when Crown Heights was nothing but "Crime Heights" in the citywide and national media, the readings are a welcome reminder that there's much more to the neighborhood than tragedy and misery. This is not to diminish the loss of Denise Gay, or to suggest that investigating the terrible circumstances that led to her untimely death is wrong, but rather to acknowledge that no one event is emblematic of any local New York community, particularly one as diversely peopled as Crown Heights. As I told the reporter from the Jewish Week, one of the things I love most about the Reading Series is the opportunity it affords to hear the voices of writers from the many different sub-communities that make up Crown Heights. So if, after a hard week, you're in need of a reminder that there is much that is good and beautiful along the Avenue and beyond, stop by tonight at 8pm.

TIPHANIE YANIQUE (How to Escape from a Leper Colony)
MICHAEL SHOWALTER (Mr. Funny Pants, Wet Hot American Summer)
EMMA STRAUB (Other People We Married)
SETH FRIED (The Great Frustration)

As always, the fun is FREE and the drink special will be $4 pints.

SUBWAY: 2/3/4/5 to Franklin Avenue

Between the gloomy weather and depressing economy we could all use some cheering up -- so this month, four of today's most inventive short fiction writers -- TIPHANIE YANIQUE, EMMA STRAUB, SETH FRIED, and ELIZA SNELLING -- and comedian MICHAEL SHOWALTER will introduce you to a bunch of funny characters.

TIPHANIE YANIQUE is the author of How to Escape from a Leper Colony. She has been awarded a Pushcart Prize, the Kore Press Fiction Prize, The Academy of American Poets Prize, a Fulbright Scholarship, and the Boston Review Fiction Prize. She is also the winner of a 2010 Rona Jaffe Prize in Fiction and is a National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” honoree. Her fiction, poetry, and essays can be found in the Best African American Fiction, Transition Magazine, American Short Fiction, The London Magazine, Prism International, Callaloo, and other journals and anthologies. A professor of Creative Writing and Caribbean Literature at Drew University, she is from the Virgin Islands and now lives in Brooklyn.

MICHAEL SHOWALTER is a comedian, screenwriter, and director and the author of the comedic memoir Mr. Funny Pants. He was a founding member of the sketch comedy troupe The State, which ran as a series on MTV. He is also the creator and star of the films Wet Hot American Summer and The Baxter, as well as the Comedy Central series Michael and Michael Have Issues. He teaches screenwriting at the NYU Graduate Film School and lives in Brooklyn with his lady and a bunch of cats.

EMMA STRAUB is the author of the story collection Other People We Married. Her stories and essays have been published by Tin House, The Paris Review, Barrelhouse, The Saint Ann’s Review, Cousin Corinne’s Reminder, The L Magazine, and many other journals. Her novel is forthcoming from Riverhead Books. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband.

SETH FRIED is the author of the debut story collection The Great Frustration. His short stories have appeared in numerous publications, including Tin House, One Story, McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, The Kenyon Review, The Missouri Review, and Vice and have been anthologized in The Better of McSweeney's, Volume 2 and The Pushcart Prize XXXV: The Best of the Small Presses.

ELIZA SNELLING is a Master of Fine Arts student in the fiction program at Brooklyn College. Her work has appeared in the online journals The Writing Disorder and Swamp Writing and is forthcoming in the Wolf Review and The Brooklyn Review. She was also a finalist in L Magazine’s Literary Upstart Contest. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Sarah Lawrence College and lives in Crown Heights.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Everyday Remembrances

Editor's Note: A little less than ten years ago, in the immediate aftermath of September 11th, John Updike wrote "Suddenly summoned to witness something great and horrendous, we keep fighting not to reduce it to our own smallness." Today, ceremonies around New York City will mark the passing of a decade since the destruction of the World Trade Center, seeking as well to avoid reduction, to keep such a violent rending of the city's physical and social fabric from fading beyond memory into history. There will be no smallness in today's events. 

And yet, we know that our own smallness will prevail, that the neurons firing to remember the horrors of ten years ago today will fire for far more mundane acts of recall tomorrow. It is for this reason that small memorials, everyday remembrances, have as much power to influence our processing of such cataclysmic events as yearly or decennial ceremonies. The article that follows, a guest piece from  journalist Andie Park, captures such a project as it lives on Franklin Avenue, unknown (until I read it) to yours truly, and perhaps to many readers.

The wooden planter boxes -- about two feet wide, two feet high, one foot deep -- number 40 this year. Soon, daffodil bulbs will occupy the soil, so that come spring, the flowers can line Franklin Avenue in gold from Atlantic Avenue to Eastern Parkway.

The daffodils bloom each year, linking loss to rebirth. Those on Franklin Avenue are part of a commercial revitalization project by the Crow Hill Community Association of Crown Heights, and a citywide effort called the Daffodil Project, a living memorial to 9/11.

“They start to all pop up almost as if the green lights are turning,” said Stacey Sheffey, who oversees plantings as chair of the Go Green Committee of CHCA, describing the daffodils in bloom.

Sheffey knows the daffodils are a memorial, but many in the neighborhood do not, even as they delight in the flowers on Franklin Avenue.

“I don’t think most people know that it’s tied to a 9/11 memorial,” said Michael Kunitzky, 35 and founder of LaunchPad, a neighborhood creative space on Franklin Avenue, after learning of the Daffodil Project. “Now when I see the daffodils, it’ll be a reminder of the good balancing out a tragic event.”

Kunitzky had thought the daffodils had more to do with the Crow Hill revitalization, with “bringing flowers into historically blighted neighborhoods.” But now, he saw them as “a great concept” and “a beautiful way” to memorialize 9/11.

“It is really a good merging spot for two efforts that do kind of coincide,” Kunitzky said.

Eldwyn Brown, 53, owns A Slice of Brooklyn, a pizza parlor located on Franklin Avenue a few blocks down from LaunchPad. A planter box sits in front of his store. Brown and his wife used to fill the box with various plants. Even though people threw cigarette butts and other trash into the box, Brown thought it made a difference. Now, the box is home to daffodils.

“It represented something more than we thought,” said Brown, sitting next to his 11-year-old son Ansil.

“Now that I see what it was for,” Ansil said, “that it was there to remind you about 9/11, how many that’s been lost, and what’s happened, well, I’m going to feel sad for all the people that lost their lives, and all the people that lost family members.”

Though borne of tragedy, the daffodils have brought color and change to the neighborhood, father and son agree, allowing them, as Ansil put it, to see more than just the barren sidewalk. And, also allowing Ansil kinder memories.

He recalls seeing reruns of news footage from 9/11.

“I used to run to my Mom to have her watch it with me,” he said, with nose running, “because I got scared. I’m not sure if I knew what it was, but what I did know is that it scared me. I saw the plane going into the building, and then after that, when my Mom would come watch it with me, then we would see the building going down.”

Brown could have been in one of the buildings that morning. He used to work for IBM in technical support. A friend from the office called Brown at about eight o’clock, to ask if he wanted to work at the Twin Towers that day. Waiting for a confirmation call, Brown got up from his bed to check on Ansil, then just a baby, and turned on the television in the living room.

Daffodils have bloomed on Franklin Avenue for three years now, rendering commercial revitalization in color and quietly commemorating 9/11. Volunteers construct the planter boxes, then plant daffodil bulbs in them, in tree pits, and in community gardens. Sheffey and other volunteers will plant 550 bulbs this year.

The bulbs are free to anyone who plants them in a public space. New Yorkers for Parks, in partnership with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, distributes the bulbs each fall in all five boroughs. Meredith Ledlie, 30, the coordinator for the Daffodil Project, estimates that about 2000 locations throughout New York City have daffodils, from four million bulbs planted.

The project began in November 2001 as an annual volunteer project, when a Dutch bulb supplier donated 500,000 bulbs in support of New York City in the aftermath of 9/11. The daffodils are a symbol of remembrance and rebirth to engage New Yorkers in revitalizing their communities. Among many reasons for daffodils as a living memorial, Ledlie points out their “distinct personality.”

“If you’ve ever looked at a daffodil, they kind of hang their heads a little bit,” Ledlie said. “In a contemplative way, like they’re thinking about something.”

In the famous poem “Daffodils” by William Wordsworth, the narrator describes daffodils “tossing their heads in sprightly dance” and finds peace in their beauty. Ledlie has seen that beauty on Franklin Avenue.

“I’ve walked past. I’ve seen the planters with my own two eyes,” she said. “They’re really great, and it’s a great way to reclaim that street.”

According to Nina Meledandri, 53, project manager for CHCA, flowers are essential to the revitalization and greening of Franklin Avenue.

“I think that really raises people’s spirits on a day-to-day level,” she said. “It touches people.”

In the coming weeks, Sheffey will pick up the daffodil bulbs slated for Franklin Avenue, at the Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn. This past April, CHCA received the Daffodil Project Award for Brooklyn; New Yorkers for Parks honors one recipient per borough each year. As a grassroots organization, CHCA can use all the help it can get and will be looking for volunteers to help plant the daffodil bulbs.

“With planting starts everything,” Sheffey said. “Just as the daffodils plant the seed of making this a memorial for 9/11, the Daffodil Project has planted the seed in different communities to make their space a green space and also beautiful, as well as honoring those who have fallen on 9/11.” - Andie Park

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Crow Hill Community Association Response to the Shootings at Park Place - Updated

Hope to see everyone out here tomorrow night - it's easy to sit at home and blog about these events, but it strikes me as voyeuristic and opportunistic if we don't get out and support those in our community who have been made victims of senseless violence, as well as those who are working to put an end to it.

Also, please consider a donation to the Denise Gay Fund. For those (like me) who didn't know her, there's a very sad article about her life and untimely death in the New York Times this morning.

Update: the NYTimes reports that the bullet that killed Ms. Gay most likely came from an officer's handgun. The terrible truth is that when a gun battle occurs in which over 70 shots are fired, there are no winners, only survivors. SOS Crown Heights, who will be present at the press conference later today, are working very hard in this neighborhood to prevent situations like this one. This tragic incident highlights just how important their work is.



- We must come together to demand stricter gun laws
- We must come together in solidarity against violence in our streets
- We must come together to support the families who have lost loved ones

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
We have started a fund for Denise Gay's daughter
(Ms. Gay was the innocent bystander senselessly killed in the shootout)

Donations can be dropped off at HAD Associates, 737 Franklin Avenue

- Checks can be made out to Crow Hill Community Association with "Denise Gay Fund" in the memo
- Cash should be in a sealed envelope with "CHCA/Denise Gay Fund" written on the outside

We will also be collecting for the fund at Thursday's Press Conference and at our September 20th meeting (at HAD Associates)

Monday, September 05, 2011

Violence (Civilian and Police) Mars Carnival

I missed nearly all of this because I was up on Eastern Parkway enjoying the masqueraders, music, food, and dancing, but all was not well at today's Carnival. A pair of shootings left two men injured, while police assaulted and arrested Councilman Jumaane Williams and Bill de Blasio staffer Kirsten John Foy (despite both men presenting identification) for using a sidewalk that another officer had sent them down. As one reader put it earlier, it's a shame that so few can poison what was otherwise such a wonderful day for so many.

On and around Franklin, shots and sirens have continued (one report said an officer and another man were shot at Park and Franklin in a shootout later in the evening). Hope everyone's alright, but sadly,  it seems unlikely.

Tuesday morning update: An article with photos from the NYTimes on the shootings last night that occasioned the massive police response.

Live from Carnival

Impact Zone Officers Abuse Authority and Harass Local Residents on Franklin Avenue Rooftops

(photo taken on ILFA's roof, where the lady and I frequently enjoy a PERFECTLY LEGAL drink with the permission of our landlord)

In the past two weeks, ILFA has received a pair of reports about officers associated with the Impact Zone on Franklin Avenue harassing local residents on their roofs without warrants or probable cause and in violation of the rights and privacy of these individuals. Their stories are reprinted below (names withheld). ILFA is deeply troubled by this unwarranted and illegal conduct on the part of the NYPD, and will be seeking answers from the 77th Precinct and raising this issue at the next Crow Hill Community Association meeting.

Reader #1: I live just off Franklin and went up to my roof last night where 2 police officers approached me, told me it was illegal for me to be on my roof, and that I could be arrested. They lied and told me the building was part of the F-TAP program, where landlords give police permission to do vertical patrols and arrest trespassers. I happen to be a criminal defense lawyer, so I told him he was absolutely wrong and that, as long as the landlord gave tenants permission to be on the roof, the police couldn't tell us otherwise. Anyways, I did a little research and found this may be a common problem - police entering buildings without landlord permission, and harassing and threatening tenants who are legally on the premises. When I threatened to call the precinct/landlord, the officer admitted that I was right, it wasn't an F-TAP building, and then tried to convince me that he was just trying to protect me from the criminals in the neighborhood. I understand the drive for police presence in our community, but the police should be called out when they abuse their power.

Reader #2: Last night I was having a quiet gathering of friends on my roof on Prospect Pl (and Franklin).  At 7:30 two cops arrived on the roof next to our roof and we asked them what was going on.  They said that there was a 'situation' that they had to look into and told us to wait until they could give us more information.  We, of course, were under the impression that there was a criminal on the loose and this was a way their way of searching for him/her....we were a bit confused.  About 5 minutes later, seven additional cops joined them and we learned that WE were the 'criminals'.  They accused us of trespassing and told us that it was public space and that we were guilty of breaking the open container law.  Initially they asked us to move to the garden (which we also have) but then as we were discussing the fact that the roof has been in use for years by tenants of the building, they changed their mind and made me (the only resident of the building) go get a copy of my lease to show them it was approved by the landlord.  While I was doing this, all of my guests were required to hand over their IDs. 

When I returned, one of the (rookie) cops threatened me with a $200 fine for all guests or a court summons for open container violation.  I asked him to issue us a warning and he completely ignored my request.  By the end of the 45 minute debacle, all of my guests were issued court summons.  It was SO embarrassing and so unnecessary. We literally were a group of 30 and 40 somethings having a dinner party.

I feel people in the neighborhood should know.  I'm not entirely sure how the roof is public property and I am entirely sure that those cops were overreacting.  I know others have suffered worse with this police presence (i.e. Kevin's arrests) but the neighborhood should know about this situation.  The cops said they were on another rooftop watching out for roof visitors (who knows).

ILFA: Just in case this isn't clear enough: the NYPD is wasting our tax dollars conducting illegal surveillance, trespassing in order to accuse law-abiding citizens of the same, and lying to, harassing, and violating the rights of residents of our neighborhood. I wish I could say I was shocked, but the past few years have made clear that the NYPD considers itself above and outside the law and that many of our elected officials are eager cheerleaders of their police-state tactics. (Update: MikeF, in the comment below, draws welcome attention to the Center for Constitutional Rights' lawsuit regarding the NYPD's stop-and-frisk quotas, which hopes to challenge the ongoing criminalization of Black and Latino youth in New York City, including on Franklin Avenue, where Impact Zone officers conduct these unconstitutional searches all the time. The sad truth is that these two incidents are part of a decades-long pattern of police abuses that are a daily threat to many communities, including Crown Heights).

This appalling state of affairs, however, should not preclude fresh outrage. ILFA has expressed ambivalence about the Impact Zone before, but provided some measure of support for efforts to preserve it out of a deep and abiding respect for the Crow Hill Community Association, which has done so much for Crown Heights and which supports the Impact Zone on Franklin. As these latest reports demonstrate, however, the officers who patrol Franklin are not answerable or accountable to the community, organized or not. This sort of policing is not making anyone safer, and it must cease at once.

If this sounds a little aggressive, consider whether you want to live in a city where police conduct warrantless rooftop surveillance in order to disturb peaceful gatherings of people in their own homes. Sounds more like Tripoli under Qaddafi, no?

If you have been a victim of this type (or another type) of police harassment, our first reader, a criminal defense lawyer, offers this advice: "If your landlord gives you permission to use the roof, there is no law saying you cant be on the roof, and if the cops claim it is an f-tap building, they are required to post signs saying no trespassing, tenants and guests only. And even then, obviously, tenants have the right to be in places approved by the landlord, including the roof. People should ask for the name and badge number of the officer, and contact CCRB if they think the officers abused their authority."

Reader #1 also passes along the following links regarding the F-TAP program (noting "all it really allows police to do is arrest people who are trespassing without asking for landlord permission for each individual. But again, if you are a resident of your own building, absent an emergency requiring police to clear an area, residents have permission to be anywhere in the building that the landlord has approved. There is absolutely no general penal law prohibiting people from being on rooftops of their buildings.") and what to do if you're stopped by the NYPD (courtesy of the New York Civil Liberties Union). ILFA urges everyone to educate themselves on these matters, so as to better protect yourself and your rights if you, too, are made a victim of NYPD abuse.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

About Time Is Back

After a pipe burst and drenched their shop, the folks at About Time Boutique have reopened, with a new and improved merchandise lineup that includes comics and LPs.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Built in Brooklyn, This Saturday at LaunchPad

BIB Collage - August

Built in Brooklyn Craft Fair
Saturday, September 3, 2011 
12:00 - 6:00 pm   

Saturday, September 3rd is the last Built in Brooklyn Craft Fair of the summer, so help us make it the best one yet!  Come on down to LaunchPad - 721 Franklin Avenue (btwn Park and Sterling Pl.) and enjoy unique jewelry, cards, gifts, clothing, soaps, scents, snacks, and much more all handmade by local artisans.

And, for your entertainment, at 3pm, Black Circle Symphony will be performing their special blend of Afro-Caribbean Percussion so you can get your groove on!

See you then!

Built in Brooklyn Craft Fair is hosted at LaunchPad logo
721 Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11238