The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

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.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Well, Maybe A Few People Will Run With This Story...

photo Elizabeth C.
The flyer was one of many posted on Woodruff west of Ocean; there was also an unruly crowd, though to what degree they were related I can't say. There was a shooting on Woodruff that did not hit anyone - again it would be pure speculation to relate the two.

A couple days ago I mused about how bloggers and media might respond to the armed robbery against some white folk in Ditmas. The robbers then squatted in the apartment after going on a racial diatribe. What I didn't consider was that someone in the mood for revolution might depict Sabrina and Precious into heroes, or at least a modern day black Butch and Sundance. Thelma and Louise? Bonnie and Clyde? Shields and Yarnell?

Look, I've been writing for months about the injustice and anger simmering. And it's not just because white people, or people of different social class to be more accurate, are moving into Flatbush and Crown Heights and Bed-Stuy etc etc. It's that the move is far from organic. It's systematic, systemic in origin, and the speed is phenomenal. Everyone I meet has stories of bullying and lowball buy-outs and even extortion, which can happen if a landlord thinks they have something over a tenant and uses that as leverage to kick 'em out. I can think of no social change like it, except perhaps the remarkable speed with which whites moved "out" 50 years ago.

We're living in a very historic moment, I believe. The way we behave and the way we react will be part of the American story. I really don't think that it's a time to simply look away or brush it off. Still, it's hard to say whether this particular incident, or poster, is more than an anomaly. But you can guarantee the street will blow this story into a myth, a metaphor, an allegory...and those too will be part of the historic narrative that we are writing as we witness it.


Bob Marvin said...

"I can think of no social change like it, except perhaps the remarkable speed with which whites moved "out" 50 years ago"

Remember that "white flight" was (eventually) slower in our neighborhood than anywhere else and that it was VERY far from complete. PLG (or Lefferts, if you prefer) is a very special neighborhood which, I'm confident, can weather the current trend, just as it did a half century ago.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Bob: I've always liked the way you describe Lefferts Gardens as a special place in regard to white-flight. But given the fact that the vast majority of people live in big apartment buildings rather than the row houses of the Manor, do you think it's really true that the neighborhood somehow avoided a wholesale change in complexion? If the neighborhood went from, say, 99% white to 90% black in a matter of a decade and a half, wouldn't you call that phenomenal?

I would bet that in buildings with 10 or more units, the change was near complete, and in some buildings it was a blink of an eye.

At our Block Association meeting last night, one of the tenants at 60 Clarkson talked about the years when 60 had a lot of "old Jewish ladies" who had stayed throughout the exodus. But I wonder if that couldn't be said of Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights etc as well. The last hold-outs stayed because either they were unable to find an affordable alternative or, and now I'm being perhaps idealistic and naive, they didn't mind becoming a minority and decided they were happy where they were, even as NYC went broke.

Anonymous said...

I echo what Bob said. For example, it wasn't complete in Ebbets Field either (yeah, technically Crown Heights but two blocks north of PLG) by the time my parents had moved in in the mid-1970s.

I suspect the riots that occurred during the blackout in the summer of 1977 were a major turning point? From what my mother would say, a number of businesses didn't return after that happened.

Alex said...

Where was this posted? And by whom? Seems like a threat that oversteps the boundaries of free speech.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

By whom, don't know. All along Woodruff.

If it advocated taking up arms specifically, I suppose it could be criminal. As it is, I'm pretty sure it's protected.

Alex said...

Tim, I hate to sound alarmist but it basically does. Everyone who followed the George Zimmerman trial knows that "stand your ground" laws, really jury instructions, state that use of a firearm is appropriate if the shooter is under any perceived threat, no matter how minor or unlikely. In popular culture, "stand your ground" implies "using a gun."

More than one of these was posted?

Alex said...

On top of that, according to the Daily News (okay, tremendous grain of salt), the perpetrators forced the women from their apartment specifically because they were sick of white people moving in:

How is it possible that the person who posted the flyers is advocating for anything but violence?

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Not sure I follow your logic. Plus, no one is claiming responsibility, so it's unlikely that you could track them down. The cops are aware of the flyers so I'm not sure what else you'd advocate?

Anonymous said...

Alex, I doubt that "stand your ground" here is meant to include using a gun. The poster probably meant in the figurative sense. He/she wants some of the existing community to stand together as a group.

Anonymous said...

P.S. Once the Facebook group is created, why don't you join it and see what it's about?

Anonymous said...

P.P.S. Alex, New York State doesn't have "Stand your ground" laws anyway; there is a legal concept called "duty to retreat". Source:

Clarkson FlatBed said...

DP: You KNOW I'll be part of that one, if it's not restricted! Maybe I need to change my profile pic!

Alex said...

You guys are probably correct, but I contend that it's poor word choice. And sure, I'll follow them on FB to see what they are about.

Is there any doubt, though, that the flyer is glorifying a crime that involved threatening with a gun? Can I at least get that? I'm not totally crazy :)

Midwoodelian said...

The day we closed on our dilapidated house in the manor my wife was standing on the corner of midwood and Bedford. A young African American woman walked by and snarled, "great! More crackers moving in!".

I must say that was not the welcoming my wife was hoping for and I have been doing serious reassuring since then that this is the right move for us and our young family.

Boy I hope I'm right.....these stories don't make it feel so warm and fuzzy.

Alex said...

I know that NYS doesn't have stand your ground laws. That's not the point I was trying to make.

My point, which I've reduced to bad word choice, is that a crime happened that involved a gun, this flyer is glorifying said crime and making the perpetrators into heros, and invoking "stand your ground" as a call to fight gentrification. Stand your ground really only entered the vernacular after highly publicized shootings in which the killers were found not guilty on the basis of perceived threat. For me it's hard to see the words "stand your ground" without thinking about gun violence.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Sorry you had that experience. Like I said the resentment is real. Words are not guns though. In this part of Brooklyn, it is not at all uncommon for strangers to express themselves, amirite?

You'll be fine. Until something suggests otherwise, this is not a reason for alarm.

Shooting last night on Flatbush last night, I have on some authority, NOT related to any of this.

FlatLen said...

I am not surprised that the perpetrators would be seen as heroes in some quarters, among those who root for the underdog and who are joyful when someone sticks it to "the man," in the old parlance.

The irony is that those people in the apartment were likely furthest from "the man" as anyone might be likely to get. Just regular folks trying to make a life, moving into an apartment. Did the landlord push someone out to give them the apartment? Who knows, and even if it happened, who is to blame? The new tenant, or the landlord?

There is a strong underpinning of that sort of energy in NYC, a mix of black nationalism and socialism among some people "on the street."

Yes, there are lot of angry people, and angry people can be very irrational, or in the case of the actual perpetrators, they are angry, plus in all likelihood, truly mentally deficient or something else.

As for standing one's ground v. a duty to retreat, now that is interesting. Tough gun laws seems to result in only criminals getting guns illegally and then terrorizing the law-abiding.

I can see how the "stand your ground" language evokes gun violence, but it is hard to tell without any other explanations. I suppose the face book page will provide more information.

Anonymous said...

Alex, there were also a number of people in the black community who were also critical of "Stand your ground" laws when the Zimmerman case came to light because they felt such laws are unwittingly racist. That's why I feel the author of this poster is not encouraging "Black Brooklyn" to arm themselves with guns against "gentrification".

Anonymous said...

re: " Tough gun laws seems to result in only criminals getting guns illegally and then terrorizing the law-abiding."

FlatLen, my boyfriend feels the same way. He lives in a state that happens to have some "stand your ground" laws. When I told him what a NYC citizen has to do to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon, he was incredulous. He thinks New York's attitude towards citizens carrying guns (legally) is ridiculous.

I (knock on wood) never found myself in a situation to feel like I needed one, even though I grew up in Crown Heights in what some called "the bad old days", so for now I don't care much about the current gun laws.

Bob Marvin said...


The "change" was virtually complete in large buildings, but it wasn't as rapid as you think. When I moved here in '74 one of PLGNA's goals was maintaining integration in the apartment buildings ; that goal wasn't met but those buildings remained integrated for a long time.


I' m sorry for your negative experience, but, if it's any comfort,I've only heard such comments a couple of times in the nearly 40 years I've lived on Midwood Street.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Maybe I'm not reading the right news stories, but I feel like a rarely hear of a case where someone with a gun saves the day or protects themselves in a manner that one might describe as successfully and heroically.

All this talk of "defending oneself" is hogwash in my view. It takes years for well-intentioned law enforcement officers, or army vets, to become comfortable using weapons regularly. It's a bunch of bravado to think that your average citizen can walk around with a gun and a) not get drunk and fire drunkenly or b) not get terrified and shoot an innocent or 3) react calmly in an emergency and NOT draw their gun unnecessarily or 4) not become so resentful and twisted that they decide lethal force is a good idea.

I trust myself to run if I need to. I do not trust myself to aim and shoot in a situation where I fear for my life. These John Wayne jackasses have an awfully inflated view of their character to think they'd do any better.

One of my neighbors is a Vietnam Vet with a closet full of guns. I guess I trust him to do the right thing, but I'd still rather they weren't there.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Oh, but I DO hear tons of stories where gun ownership goes horribly wrong. That was where I was going with that...

Paul Galloway said...

In fairness, there are instances when an armed bystander has saved lives in a dangerous situation. Though that small number of lives saved do not make up for the far larger number who are killed by reckless gun-totin' jackasses.

But back on topic: I think this poster/flyer is likely a clever grad-student art project.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Nah. The lettering is too lame. And why no photoshop? If it is, I say "deny him his M.F.A." It's neither smart nor funny.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Between the racist libertarian troll who doesn't understand the mechanism of gentrification, to the racist laissez faire capitalist troll who loves to use italics, I've got the far right covered. With the revolutionary NIMBY class warriors I've got the far left covered. I'm beginning to sound like a centrist!

Listen PG and NS, please go. Start your own blogs. Go get married in the red state of your dreams. You keep posting, and I'll keep deleting. It gives me pleasure actually. If only I could delete guys like you from the ACTUAL political debate, maybe we'd finally get somewhere.

Parkside_Guy said...

I live here too
I've INVESTED HERE. big time
what have you done?
I'm a bad guy because I'm not wiping everyone's ass for them?
I'm not going away
Your worst nightmare
Shit changes
I been here 15 years. not apologizing to twerps like you. i live and buy where the hell i want. i don't care how long you pissed on and littered on this block asshole, fuck off
you think you're down Q but nobody cares
the hood would blow you away idiot
to the person doing the poster: you're a misguided dipshit!

no_slappz said...

clarkson, it should be painfully and disappointingly clear to you that a lot of active investors, who may well be residents, are putting their money into the neighborhood.

Therefore, the kind of change you believe you're fighting is unstoppable, so PLG, as well as a lot of other neighborhoods, may well go back to the future of the 1950s.

Jeez, you really got parkside_guy worked into a rage.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

I want to know, brothers PG and NS, when I ever once said that investment in the neighborhood was a bad thing? I chronicle the OTHER side as well as the rah rah development...the other side is this: Some people lose when others gain. I love that people are building new buildings. But if you tear something down where real people live, it's worth noting.

I've invested heavily in the neighborhood myself. Unless I'm mistaken, I've never seen either of you at a single community event or meeting. You don't identify yourselves by your real names. It's YOU that are gutless. And useless to the betterment of the neighborhood, as far as I'm concerned. Prove otherwise. I'm waiting.

But I'm not leaving up your right-wing nutcase comments because they're disruptive to a civil conversation and don't reflect the large majority in the neighborhood. I hear from a lot of those folks in person, because unlike you guys, they're not afraid to come out into the light of day.

You've made your points. We get where you're coming from. Now, like I said, start your own blogs.

Mr. PG if your attacks on me cross the line from online rants, I'll be sure to contact the authorities. Otherwise, I'm about as scared of your threats as I am of burnt toast. Go throw your money's apparently your first love in life. I like people, and I'll continue to document their struggles.

Parkside_Guy said...

Supporting race hate on your blog and I'm the racist??
My posts deleted from the "discussion".
Why don't you let the neighborhood read what I said.
let people decide if i'm a racist nutcase for themselves.
Is everyone just little babies scared of any truth?

your moral relativist position is indefensible.
either violent crime is wrong, or it's not.
you yell fire in a theater and then say 'just kidding!'?
Oh i'm sorry, it's "people struggling". guess that makes whatever happens as a result of this poster ok. the next home invasion is on your conscience now. Additionally, when/if that happens I will hold you personally accountable for your role in spreading hate.

you think this poster is funny or "empowering"?
just more dangerously misguided BS. this neighborhood is full of it.
luckily 2 less "Thelma and Louises" to worry about now.
I'm sure "the authorities" will grind their lives to dust.
A side note in the Daily News; guilty verdict six months from now for a ten year vacation.
Wasted lives believing your lies and then throwing it all away.
talk about empowering!

You seem to want a war
be careful what you wish for
you might get it

Clarkson FlatBed said...

PG: Not once did I "side" with the posters of the flyer nor condone their rhetoric, nor make light of a serious crime. In fact, I said "I hope they nail them for armed robbery, a dang serious offense."

It's you that's turning this into a war. I merely pointed out that unless the rhetoric becomes overt and violent on a regular basis, I would caution drawing broad conclusions as some have drawn about the Knockout Game.

I am describing a situation, and trying to put things in the proper perspective. Frankly, I have no idea what YOU're doing or where you're coming from. But you need to take a lude and go back to massaging your investment portfolio.

Paul Galloway said...

Bummer I share the same initials with Parkside Guy

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Initials? I thought it WAS you!

How about I just call you PGA?