This coming Tuesday night at 7PM, in front of 80 Clarkson, please make a point of coming out to share our outrage at what happened on August 30, 2012, and to show the family that we stand united against the senseless violence that frankly, could have struck any of us or our loved ones. There will be a vigil for the victim, then a march through the neighborhood to let everyone know how many we are, that we won't tolerate guns, gangs or drug-dealing on our streets. That's all I know about it right now; more info when I get it from elected officials and the family. But please, put it on your calendar. This is not a meeting, it's not a forum, it's not a petition, and it's not a letter writing campaign. It's a get-off-our-butts-and-show-our-numbers-kinda-thing, black-white-green-rich-poor-old-young-longtimer-newcomer, for the wayward young gang bangers, and the whole City, to see.
Over the last 48 hours, I've spoken to many people about the horrific tragedy that claimed the life of our neighbor, Fatima Gordon, as she was coming back from the corner store. The suffering on the faces of her family and friends is all you need to witness to see that she was beloved. From all accounts, she really was just walking home from the store, with two kids in tow. One, her son of just four years old, witnessed the whole thing. The extended family is trying to come to terms with what happened. The boy is terrified to go into the building, lest the "bad man who took my mommy" is in there. I'm telling you, it's outrageous to even have to write that last line.
The shooter rode his bike past 80 Clarkson on his way to a parked car near 40, around 9PM. He was not "from" the block, but he was not unknown. His appearance was apparently unwelcome to those who saw him. No one would tell ME who he was, but plenty of people want to see him caught. Perhaps he was a rival to the "gang" that hangs out in front of 35, 41, and most recently 40 Clarkson. This group of upper-teen to 20-somethings includes at least three guys who live on the block and a few others who come and go. They're well known to the Captain of the 71st Precinct, Jack Lewis. Jack came by my house last night to share some thoughts, but it was pretty depressing to hear how some of these guys go to jail for awhile only to return right where they got caught, doing the same ol' same ol'. According to Lewis, he has a hard time busting people on parole violations as well, which is often the only leverage he has against the low-level offenses. Seems like the whole NY legal system is jaded and backed up with the thousands of young men it must deal with on a perpetual basis of in for six, out for six, in for two, out for two, etc. etc. etc. Rarely does he see someone who buys into the life ever get out. He seems to understand why a kid would choose the live-fast die-young thing, but it comes at a big price to the neighborhood. Hell, watching the way these guys live, nothing to do all day, can't even safely go to other blocks, talking about not much, getting high, staring into space. Seems to me jail might actually be a sideways career move.
The gang was hanging out Thursday evening in and around its beloved black Cadillac Escalade (who owns it I wonder), which is the car they frequently deal from. Not that they're particularly careful about hiding it. I once saw a dealer throw the stuff onto the pavement, yelling at his customer "go fetch," in earshot of the whole block.The SUV Escalade, for those not in the know, is a favorite of rappers, sports stars and drug dealers. In fact, the folks at Cadillac were shocked to find that their biggest hit in years was also radically changing the company's demographic - younger and blacker - due to some pretty sweet product placement in videos they had nothing to do with, nor had to pay for. The car itself was well known to the 70th and 71st precincts.
I have yet to learn the status of the young men who were wounded, and I hope to find out more soon. Were they intended targets? The craziest thing I learned was that the killer apparently called someone in the family and apologized. For killing the wrong person. The response (this according to the victim's aunt) was "if you're sorry come turn yourself in." The mother said there's a manhunt on in three states to find him. (I'm repeating what I heard, I don't know if a lick of it is true. But this is one case where many people have a pretty clear idea who did it, or at least which posse he was from. The mother kept saying she wants "all three of them" to go down, and I have no idea what that means, but there it is.)
The surviving child may end up in the father's care. I met the father briefly, just before writing this. He seemed bewildered and shocked and was being asked to make decisions about funeral arrangements. I'm told Councilman Eugene has been by to express condolences and to offer to help pay for the funeral. Ditto the NYPD. T-Shirts are being printed with a likeness of Fatima. A vigil and march are happening Tuesday evening. The family hopes that all of you, each and every one of you, who have interest in this part of town, consider setting aside some time to come and join them in this moment of intense grief and sorrow.
But all of that said, what I'd really like to do, if I could muster the courage, is talk to the men who were hanging by the Caddy that night, and say, please, please, let it end here. Just let it go. There is, there always is, while you're above ground, another path to choose.
The Q at Parkside
News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.