It is most unfortunate that you have chosen your first speech in the Senate to flame anger and ethnic unrest in NYC. The city, by it's very nature, titers on the brink of ethnic unrest everyday, for generations. But only over the last thirty years have the added element of automated fire, drug abuse, and mass media been added into the fold. We in Brooklyn were fully exposed to the consequences on a body politic frozen by fear of race baiters when not more than a few blocks from my house in Midwood, and from your home in Park Slope, Crown Heights erupted in violence when in mass, one community rose up and decided to take another, smaller, community to it's deathbed.
The cause of the Crown Heights riots were rooted in City Hall, who when faced with the tough choice cracking down on an illegal and racist protest by Sonny Carson on Church Ave and Ocean Parkway, gave a go ahead signal to a mob mentality which was taking over the borough that summer. I clearly remember several times at the Junction that summer when I was verbally assaulted by Black youths in Flatbush Avenue and Glenwood Road for stepping into their neighborhood. My wife, a blond haired women from the Midwest was terrorized twice that summer while taking the number two train. The second time, she ran into the comic book shop on Ave. H for protection from a lynch mob of Junior High School children, into the arms of my friend who ran the store, who had his employees run out of the store to confront a very ugly situation.
That very next day, the riots started in Crown Heights. I was working at the Bronx VA Hospital at the time and heard the reports on the radio. I came home that night and took the car to the area that night, and was ushered across Lincoln road, as Eastern Parkway was barricaded. From along the stoops I was threatened repeatedly for being a whitie in their neighborhood. When I finally got to Troy Ave., I parked the car and ran down to Kingston Ave.What I witnessed that night, I will never forget. Eastern Parkway was filled across the full width of the roadway with a mob of angry black men armed with bats and broken bottles and more. They came up the hill, likely numbering a few thousand and followed by the police. The police did nothing to stop the mob, and it turned up Kingston Avenue destroying everything in it's path. The Police were lined up in riot gear at 770 Eastern Parkway, getting pelted with rocks and I heard numerous rounds of gun fire over the crowd.
I'm not sure you are completely aware of just how close the Borough came to exploding from the Junction, all the way to your doorstep in Park Slope that night. When I drove home that night, huge amounts of Black Teens and men were assembled up and down Flatbush Ave. On Beverly Road a man was shouting through a megaphone calling for people to gather and riot on the "Jew Scum" taking over "our" city. Similarly, a large gathering was assembling at Ditmas Ave. held back by 2 cops, and again, at Faragot Road was a similar scene of about 100 people threatening to run down to teach "The Jew Boys" something on Ave. J. A police car showed up there after I called from a pay phone to the 70th Precinct, and finally broke that gathering up.
That was the summer of the "Random Shooting". Spray shots for kicks were killing children all over Crown Heights and East New York that summer. Saratoga Ave., Pennsylvania, Utica Avenue, the name of the cross street continued to change, but the story in the news was the same. Tear filled mothers sobbed mightily over the loss of a good child to random gun violence all over Central and Eastern Brooklyn. The number of break in robberies in Midwood was up to 5 a night in the area just between Nostrand Ave. and Bedford, from the train tracks to Ave. J. No more than 15 square blocks. By the end of the Dinkin's administration, everyone I knew was living in fear.
The city has learned the hard way that sweeping the problem of crime under the rug and justifying it as the natural result of repression, poverty and racism is to invite wide sweeping violence and to increase racism across the entire town as opinions harden and tolerance of those not like us dwindles. No Ethnic in New York group is immune from this affect.
Their can be little doubt that the current Mayor put New York City on a road to heeling many of it's what seemed to be intransigent problems. My only regret is that he has not been aggressive enough in taking the problems of quality of life far enough. The Junction, Kings Highway and Prospect Park are still filthy. The Subway, especially stops like Franklin Ave. and Atlantic Ave., is still a health hazard with Rat infestation. Amy Watkins was still murdered just a few blocks from your home, kids still roam the trains at 3:00PM in packs. In fact, just last year, when a friend flew in from San Francisco, we took a train ride to Manhattan on the 2 at 3:30. And just as she was letting into me for being to prone to stereotyping and generalizing people, four 10 -12 year old black kids jumped onto the train at Newkirk Ave. and kicked in the steel door of the conductors cabin, ripped all the posters off the train, and then scattered through the cars when the conductor figured out the that the train was under assault. Needless to say, this did not surprise me at all and I started shouting at them to stop, but it terrified her.
The NYPD is now putting cops where the crime is, and telling them actually do something about it. It's a bad thing that 41 shots were fired at an innocent man in South Bronx in the middle of the night. But this sort of incident was inevitable as cops are now armed with Biretta's in response to facing semiautomatic and automatic high powered rifle fire. It was also terrible that a child in Bedford Styversant in the middle of the night by cops who thought his toy automatic riffle was real. It was even more terrible that a 9 year old was up, unsupervised by adults, at that time of night, along with hundreds of other children like him up and down Franklin Avenue, St Johns Place, and Bergen Street.
It's unfortunate that the Daily news can report that 80% of the selective group of black men they polled said they've been stopped and searched by cops. It is equally unfortunate that the NYC Board of Education can't find teachers to fill positions in minority communities because the teachers are threatened in the classroom by pupils. It's all part of the same problem. It a problem the Mayor and the NYPD is part of a solution to. They have pulled more guns off the street than your gun control bills could ever have accomplished. My question to you is, now that you've attacked the NYPD for a pattern of brutality and racism, where is your role in a solution to this problem?
As George Kelling wrote in the March 26th Edition of the Daily News:
The wholesale attacks on the NYPD are especially worrisome because the gains are not irreversible. The continuity provided through Giuliani's two terms and Police Commissioner Howard Safir's continued focus on maintaining order can create a false confidence that New York won't revert to the "stay out of trouble mentality" that dominated the NYPD for more than 20 years.
More to the point, outside of pulling the Police force entirely from Harlem, East New York, Bedford Styversant, Bushwick and the like, can anything be done to satisfy the large group of minorities who choose to believe that they own New York City, and that any crime that these communities are generating is excusable -- just because they are an underclass minority? I doubt it.. Yet left uncontrolled, the problem of crime not only causes tears from the broken hearts of mothers throughout these areas as they hold the corspe of their once vibrant children who are gunned down in drug violence,
but it also fuels the cycle of interethnic friction which is now drive the body politic of New York City, and threatens to burn yet more communities in the ashes of riot and mayhem.
Ruben I Safir
1600 East 17th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11230
Assist Web Master
Brooklyn's home on the world wide web.
cc: Mark Greens Office, Mayor Guilliani, Carl Kruger, Mike Nelson, Anthony Weiner, Albert Wallace