Notes From The 94th Precinct Community Meeting
It was a full house last night at the in the basement of Capital One Greenpoint Savings Bank. In fact there were so many people in attendance they didn’t have enough chairs so many had to stand or sit on table tops. Before I get to “the main event” (the police’s conduct on Bedford Avenue November 4, 2008) I’d like to mention a few other items of interest:
1. The 50+ pairs “street sneakers” have been removed at the intersection of Kingsland Avenue and Jackson Street. At last inspection only two pairs have taken their place.
2. There were 27 summonses issued for illegal truck traffic this week. There will be a crackdown on illegal bicycling as well.
3. For the year (thus far) crime overall is up but compared to earlier this year overall it is down.
- The rates of robbery and assault are unchanged.
- There have been 13 burglaries (“6-8” of which took place in residences where the front door was unlocked/open). No weapon was displayed and the perpetrator is thought to be involved in other robberies.
- Someone was shot in the face— twice— during a Halloween Party at the Cooper Housing Projects. He (or she) is reported to be okay.
4. When queried about the Greenpoint Hotel C.O. Fulton knew of nothing unusual going on but noted that most of the activity there involved breaking up “personal disputes”.
5. Not yet reported in the statistics (because it happened 11/16/08): a purse was stolen out of the back of a car (“smash and grab”).
6. There were several complaints about semis parking underneath the BQE at Humboldt Avenue workers unloading the contents of one truck into another. In one case as late (early?) as 3:00 a.m. in the morning.
7. Club Exit has been talked to about their recent gun play.
But let’s get around to what everyone wants hear: Captain Fulton’s take on what happened at Bedford Avenue and North 7th Street the evening of November 4.
And questions there were …and a few surprises as well.
Unfortunately I ran out of memory cards (Dear Santa, please give me more memory cards!)— but my own memory (good ol’ gray matter) can pretty much summarize the rest.
1. Overall it was a pretty ugly meeting. The reason for this had little to do with Captain Fulton. Rather, it had to do with how the “old guard” treated the younger people present. For example: When Aaron Short (of the Greenpoint Courier and BushwickBK) asked if this was “a generational issue” a woman shouted:
I have sons your age!
Another man chimed in:
The issue is order over anarchy!
Others cried that the police were “too lenient”.
2. Another woman (the brunette seen at towards the end of the previous You Tube clip) asked the following question (albeit paraphrased):
How are you going to train your officers to handle crowd control (moving forward)?
A very salient question if you ask me, as all the development the Northside is facilitating an explosion population-wise. There was some back and forth between her and C.O. Fulton, e.g.; Fulton said all police cadets were trained the same and that there was a crowd of over 300 people. To wit she pointed out there were similar crowds in Ft. Greene and Park Slope and neither required a “Task Force” nor making arrests. C.O. Fulton initially disputed her numbers but said he’d look into it.
3. Believe it or not, this is when the meeting took a productive turn. A gentlemen in the back asked (once again paraphrased):
How can we take up this matter other than/in addition to going to the C.C.R.B. (Civilian Complaint Review Board)?
To this end C.O. Fulton offered to have a “sit down” with people present on Bedford Avenue that evening who felt the police acted inappropriately and backed it up by having one of his subordinates get the process started. When details of this meeting become available (to those of you who would like to have your say but were unable to attend this evening’s meeting) I will post them here.
My two cents (it is my blog after all)
A number of factors lead up to this incident:
1. As C.O. Fulton noted noise complaints in/around North 7th Street and Bedford Avenue are a long-standing problem— and what happened November 4th brought this anger to a head. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that the increase in/shift of population in the area (in favor of affluent young ‘uns) has lead to a proliferation of bars and other “late night” activities on the Northside.
Bars = drunk people.
A gaggle of bars in a very small area = a LOT of drunk people.
A bunch of people harboring anxiety over Sarah Palin becoming Vice President (given access to the intoxicants at aforementioned bars) = a LOT of VERY drunk people.
Learning Barack Obama won = a collective sigh of relief. And a LOT of VERY DRUNK happy people.
2. Lack of preparation on the NYPD’s part: I cannot fathom how/why they thought this election would notworse culminate into some kind of “activity”. Had McCain won I suspect what the 94th (and many other precincts in New York City for that matter) would have encountered would have been much worse. I find this troubling.
3. An inability or overall unwillingness— on both sides— young and old— to be considerate to each other. Speaking as someone in the “middle” (albeit in my ivory tower in Greenpoint) I didn’t mind the odd gaggle of people wailing and screaming until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning because Barack Obama was elected President. It was (and will be) a page in the history books. One which we were all lucky enough to experience. On the other hand I have experienced many sleepless nights at the behest of drunken hooligans. As was said at the meeting several times:
Some people have to get up and go to work in the morning.
Somewhere between there has to be a balance.
Simply put, there needs to be a greater effort on the part of the police and citizens— young and old— to work together to prevent what came to pass in the wee hours of November 4th-5th from happening again. This entails dialoging, not shouting over each other, hissing “disgrace” or finger-pointing. The fact of the matter is there is more than enough blame to go around: police and “civilians” alike.