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.

Friday, May 31, 2013

The D.A. Makes Us An Offer

The name of the Brooklyn District Attorney is Charles "Joe" Hynes and he's been around for quite some time. In fact, the Flatbush native just turned 78. Happy Birthday, sir. Hope you like scandals, your own reality shows, and close reelection campaigns! If so, this is YOUR year to shine!

The District Attorney finally took a meeting with the Q after weeks of tries, since I'd heard that it could be very helpful to draw in the law side of the Law & Order equation, especially when trying to get a grip on violent crime in your neighborhood. I mean Jerry Orbach was a saint, and he gave the gift of sight to two New Yorkers, but you needed Sam Waterston's Jack McCoy to keep those rascals behind bars, and he played a mean Abe Lincoln in his younger days as well. As I recall, he recited a whole Lincoln speech at Cooper Union a few years back too. And remember when Fred Thompson ran for president, not long after stepping down as district attorney? Wait. That's mixing truth with fiction isn't it. Let me start that again.

Archuke Franz Ferdinand, too,
had a handlebar moustache
The District Attorney finally took a meeting with the Q after weeks of tries, since I'd heard that it could be very helpful to draw in the law side of the law & order equation, especially when trying to get a grip on violent crime in your neighborhood. Even our precinct commander had noted as much to me. 40 Lincoln's Dynishal Gross had been trying to get a meeting too, and it turned out that Saadia Adossa of the D.A.'s office scheduled us both to come in to meet the D.A.'s team at the same time. Dynishal reached out to her crew over on Lincoln, I reached out to the Clarkson crew and Duane Joseph over on Woodruff, Quest from PLGNA came too, and we had a nice little quorum to meet and greet and find out what the McCoy side could do to help bring down the violence and drug quotient in the neighborhood. We went to the downtown D.A. headquarters, which happened to be in the same building as the Marriot (wonder what their room rate is), headed up to one of the top floors (nice views thank you), walked past a long line of former Brooklyn District Attorneys dating back 150 years (it would appear that until relatively recently a requirement for the job was a long handlebar moustache).

We were led to a super-large conference room. Much too big it would have seemed for a group of 8 of us and the D.A. and a couple of assistants, right? Wrong. One by one, the "suits" started showing up. Heads of divisions like "Gangs" and "Narcotics" and "Murder" and things called "Green Zone" started introducing themselves, and pretty soon there must have been a dozen or so middle-aged men with nice ties and war-worn smiles (they're seasoned prosecutors and such after all) and then the D.A. walked in sat down made a few dry jokes and we were off and running. He wanted to hear what each of us had to say about our experiences in the neighborhood with drug-corners and gang activity and guns and the recent murders and since D.A. Hynes had grown up in the neighborhood and lived in Brooklyn and Queens his whole life he knew the area and specific corners and asked good questions and then what he said next surprised us, though me not so much, because a friend of mine who live in Crown Heights North had prepared me.

He said if we wanted to turn around the area and worked with his office and with the the 71st and 70th precincts and the various patrols and met every two months or so that we would see a huge improvement and that he had "never failed." Period. And that's what my friend said too about Crown Heights North; that they had seen a big improvement in the amount of street crime. And Jack Lewis of the 71st was sitting next to me and he smiled and he said Tim, you should take that deal.

Now I have no idea what that was all about, and debriefing with Dynishal and Quest and Duane and the others I don't know what to make of it but here's what I do know and I'm sharing with you because it involves all of us. We were asked to convene as many folks in the community to get together and his office will send down folks to find out where the problem spots are and what are the problem buildings and apartments and corners and at-risk kids and worst landlords and businesses and they'll start running real intelligence operations and get to know the area much better than they already do and get as many users into treatment as possible, let young people know about the programs available as alternatives to street life, provide job opportunities to those who want them, run gang interference etc etc etc.

I'll be honest. I have no history with stuff like this, and I'm frankly a little tired of trying to organize stuff. I have yet to find anyone who really wants to take a leadership role around here and find out what the young people are lacking and needing, why the gangs persist, why the adults are M.I.A., why everyone is so fearful. I mean I see drug deals happen and everybody just looks the other way. No wonder nothing ever changes. If I were a drug dealer around here I'd think this is a GREAT PLACE TO DO BUSINESS. Nobody seems to give a shit. People just walk right by, never call 911, never organize, never do anything. Over the last three years little meetings crop up and people say this has got to stop, or there needs to be more this, or someone should really do this, or the kids need to that, but nothing ever happens. The cops say the 911 calls are just not happening. Then crime spikes, I mean really spikes like recently, and the 911 calls still aren't there. A bunch of newcomers move to the neighborhood, iPhone thefts go through the roof, still no real effort to curb the gangs and drug activity. I get the part about not wanting to go up to a known drug dealer and say "hey, stop dealing drugs on the street in front of my kid you moron." But generally speaking, aren't we all a lot less safe when guys who make their living selling crack cocaine and have access to guns think it's okay to ply their trade with impunity? Right in front of our homes and on our walks to the train? I'm not calling anybody out, I'm just noting that it's been frustrating to take part in one little group after another and still be no farther along than three years ago.

Lewis did say that the Impact Zone is coming to the area, so even with heightened police activity now, it's probably gonna ramp up even higher. This could be good, but it's not necessarily what the the D.A. has in mind. If any of you have lived in an Impact Zone it's a lot a lot a lot of blue. The boundaries he's drawing are, if I recall, Park to Nostrand, Lincoln down to Clarkson. Some have already expressed privately to me that it might make some young people nervous in the way that things got tense in East Flatbush. Let's hope not. Perhaps our block associations can foster dialogue to get the kids talking about and to the cops?

By the way, Delroy Wright of the Flatbush Merchant's Association was also at the D.A.'s office, and he noted as I have that Ray's bodega is clean. That is, besides cleaning the glass of his bodega at the corner of Flatbush and Maple, he also heard us loud and clear and stopped letting all the hoodlums hang out there and in front. If you've a mind to, stop in and thank him for cleaning up his act. He was never actively dealing drugs out of there himself, he just didn't feel he had anyone backing him up to get the bad dudes to move along. Jack Lewis agreed - Ray has been cooperative. If you need a candy bar, buy it from Ray. I think it's helpful to show him you appreciate that he's helping to keep the area free from thuggery.

On the other hand, "Pancakes From Hell" as I like to call the Woodruff Deli at Woodruff and Flatbush was recently host to a LOT of crack dealing. After I sent a note to the 70th Precinct based on a tip, they asked me to come down last week to look at a video they got from the deli's owner. In it, a heavy-set lady could be seen leaning over the ice-cream freezer talking on a cell-phone. The freezer, if you know the deli, faces Flatbush. A man come in and opens the freezer drawer next to her. She reaches into her mouth and pulls something out and places it on the closed drawer in front of her. He reaches down and puts his hand on top of hers, taking whatever is under hers, and places his hand in his mouth, while she takes what he's given her and puts it in her pocket. Thus the transaction is made. He walks out. She walks out a few moments later. It's quite graceful actually.

The cops tell me the runners never have more than one baggie on them, that's why they're moving constantly. The dealers on my block are moving ALL day long. When they're not dealing, they barely move; that's how I know they're working or not. They hold the stuff in their mouth, sometimes in the butt cheeks. They don't worry about the weed of course. That's not really even a crime anymore. If they get caught, they'll swallow the narcotics. Even if they get caught with some on them, they'll plead guilty and usually spend little or no time. The dealers are tough to lock up for long too. The best way to get someone for a long time? They shoot or kill somebody. Or get caught with illegal weapons and a big stash. Those are rare busts. On my street they got a guy for heroin, crack and guns on a warrant. We'd been talking about him for awhile. I posted about a guy they got on Washington Ave recently. These are the successes. When I talk to the guys at the precincts there are lists of guys who could be next. It's really sad. On my block, there are six guys that I now know by name with long rap sheets. None of them are over 25. Most of them say hello. Is Clarkson special? Not at all.

So, what's to be done?

The answer I get back time and time again is NOT a) turn the other way, b) don't look, c) pretend they're not there, d) wait til gentrification happens, e) wait for winter, f) hope the cops do their job etc. It's always "let us know what's going on," "find out who these folks are," "get to know the good kids from the bad kids" "reach out" "communicate" "form block associations "get involved" "find out what the kids are saying" "say hello to neighbors" that kinda groovy stuff. And whenever a crime or funny stuff goes down, call 911. And call 911, not 311. 311 for garbage and noise. But 911 when it's something you want the cops to know about. You can blame the Q for telling you that, because the cops told me that. They need the numbers in order to justify taking action, and 911 gives them the numbers.

Dynishal is organizing a meeting with the D.A.'s folks for the northern part of what she calls PLG on Lincoln Road. For the southern part of "Lefferts," say Woodruff, Parkside, Clarkson, Winthrop, Ocean Ave (south of, um, the townhouses?), Hawthorne, Lenox Ave...etc. or anywhere that feels like the Q train is your hometrain say, feel free to send me an email to help be part of this effort. I'd like to create an email list of people that will be kinda "block captains" for this whole D.A. thing. I really don't think it will take a lot of time, but we do need to try to take advantage of this opportunity. And who knows, maybe the D.A. will lose the election, so maybe the whole thing will be short lived. But we'll create a sort of infrastructure anyway!

The Clarkson Ave Block Association will be hosting the first informational meeting about the effort to rid the area of guns, gangs and drugs on:

June 12, 2013
40 Clarkson Ave
Basement Community Room
7:30 PM

You're all invited to join us and hear what the D.A.'s office is offering in the way of ideas and support. Remember, they claim to have "never failed."


Bob Treuber said...

How to get on Dyneshel's contact list?

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Bob: She'll post the mtg when arrangements are made. In the meantime, if you'd like me to forward your email send it to me and I'll forward. Thx!

ElizabethC said...

well, I've called 911 about seven times in the last two weeks. There has been constant fighting and dealing (sometimes both) on Woodruff. One frustration is that the crowd tends to scatter and then the police call ME to ask where the action is. I'm like "uh, you just dispersed it.Thanks!" sadly, it's temporary.

Anonymous said...

I did notice in the last couple of months that there were no guys and no pitbull outside of Rays. Then yesterday there were three guys outside with the dog. I always walk past as quickly as possible, but this time I heard the following exchange between the guys:
"the trouble is you ain't even around enough to get a piece of whatever action is happening".
sounds like business as usual to me. Maybe Ray's could use a deli cam trained on the outside?

Anonymous said...

I also still see the drug guys and the dog outside Rays. And some of them moved across the street to Subway, and others are still by the liquors town. So maybe Ray seems to be cooperating but the drug dealers are still there!

babs said...

"Take that deal?" Seriously? So the law-abiding citizens are the criminals here? The only people who should be taking deals are the thugs. Puh-leeze.

Oh, and that show was boring, except for the Korean guy who ate a lot.

babs said...

It's not a pit bull it's a bullmastiff. I'm just say'n.

babs said...

Hey, and BTW, 154 Woodruff is in contract for way over ask.

Anonymous said...

not surprised that Woodruff place went over ask, it seemed underpriced for a renovated townhouse a block from the park. One of the ancillary effects of gentrification (as has become pretty clear in PLG over the last several years) is that it creates a culture-often of newcomers-who both trust the police more and are willing to make greater demands of them, are willing to call 911 repeatedly to try and effect change. And there is understandable cynicism within the previous community that gentrifiers command a quicker police response. But that's how it seems to play out. So hopefully, whoever paid almost a million dollars to live on Woodruff is going to recognize that they've got skin in the game and be very proactive about not tolerating a drug market on their corner. Which is good for everyone.

Tim, thanks again for all your hard work on this, it's really heartening that you and a few others are leading the charge on this. Let's keep the momentum and the dialogue going.

And hopeful as I was that the guys with the bullmastiff had been vanquished, I saw them there a couple weeks ago.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

To my point...when guys like Ray try to make the right call it's nice if they get some encouragement. I wonder if anyone has ever made the effort? This D.A. thing could be just the ticket.

What I'd like is if we can create a regularly occurring forum to judge progress, not these "up in arms" hastily scheduled meetings that go nowhere. So a couple months went by without the mean dog and there was no meaningful engagement with the owner of the business and building and it should come as no surprise then if the trouble returns, right?

And let me add that a big part of this has to be about setting an agenda for the youth of the neighborhood. It can't just be about law enforcement, though that's a BIG part of it. One thing about the weed is...and I don't know how to say this bluntly (pun intended). It's probably not such a big deal for a kid in the suburbs to lose a couple years to smoking and/or selling in junior high and high school. But that could be the end of the line for a kid in our part of town.

So yeah, I get it that you shouldn't throw the book at someone for smoking a joint. But you gotta give the kids a chance to grow up drug free. My wife and I were over at Parkside Playground when the dealer from our block showed up with the weed and a bunch of the teenagers put down their basketballs to get their stuff, and all the little ones looked on and I swear to god my heart sank into my shoes.

And that's where we gotta be vigilant. A lot of kids want to do the right thing and we got give them a safe space to do that. We have the means to make it happen, on so many levels, the encouraging smiles, and tutoring and fundraising for schools etc. etc. etc...the payback can be huge all around.

Anonymous said...


By removing my post you proved my point. You want to be a liberal, but you can't stand how liberalism filters down to your neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

Maybe this is a dumb question, but why don't the police already know where people are dealing and go do their thing? Esp if what Q is describing involves a lot more blue on the streets. I'm not a trained officer of the law but it seems fairly obvious to me that probably the group of guys hanging outside the nail salon & bodega on Lenox @ FB all day are not getting mani pedis, and the constant double-parked car traffic is not grabbing Melany's take-out. I agree that the community needs to work with the police, but isn't the real idea behind a beat cop that someone in uniform knows as much (and more) than any of us residents because they're here just like we are every day?

Anonymous said...

anon at 10:07, I agree completely and that was my first response reading When there are two murders of innocent bystanders by drug/gang people in the span of several months then why do we have to make ANY additional calls??? Just sounds like B***sh** to me. Hynes will get my vote if and only if he does something not based on how many 911 calls the 71st starts to get but based on the fact the drug dealing is blatant, has been for many years, everybody can see it. And most of all he should take action because of the murders that result from the lawlessness of our neighborhood being so friendly to drug dealers. I'm so angry about all this. It's utterly ridiculous. A farce.

Anonymous said...

And the idea that residents are asked year after year anytime we ask the 71st to do something about the chronic drug dealers, to basically set up our own task force and conduct observation of the dealing so that we can witness an actual deal going down and call it in each time (yes they've told people to do that many times, any time we ask for action) it's insane. Total lunacy. It puts citizens in danger. What are we paying taxes for if it's not to fund this very basic law enforcement?

Anonymous said...

I have said this before: it all sounds so fishy to me. So fishy that it makes me think that the 71st precinct is in on some of this business. If I, who does my best to just go to work and come home with as little attention paid to me as possible, is aware of all the activity going on in my scurrying, why can't they see it? I have made the calls, and yet STILL..the same old. Something is not right here.

And I am not about to take it upon myself to educate the youth and teenagers about drugs and weed, sorry. If their parents aren't about to enforce any of that, who the hell am I that they will listen to? I have my own kids to teach these things to, in a world that glorifies that lifestyle. Instead of that yearly party that gets thrown on one of the Manor streets, why not use that money for community education? There are a millions places in NYC I can take my kid to a street fair. This neighborhood needs much more than that right now.

MadMommaCarmen said...

I call bullshit too. I have personally, on more than one occasion, given the police the name and address of local dumbskulls in our 'hood. The now-murder on Lincoln- same thing. I gave them the name of the guy, his address, his momma's address, and where he frequently hangs out. The officer at the Crime Stoppers line said they already knew all that and were en route to pick him up, and you know what....they never showed up. I still see these knuckleheads up to the same isht, sometimes laughing at the fact that they can do what they do without hiding it.

Its a joke. And that joke is on us.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Well, the anger is certainly out there!

Come out and share your thoughts.

We have never, to my knowledge, had the DAs involvement. The precinct is pretty low on the totem pole actually, most reactive, so maybe it's time to try some more connected folks for a change?

Second, of course they see the guys hanging out. And they know exactly where the 911 calls come from, and where the crimes are being committed. Need I remind you that it's not against the law to hang out? What you're describing Anon at 10:07 is not credible drug dealing activity. This is a dense neighborhood, and I can guarantee from getting to know my block that an awful lot of the time double-parked cars with guys hanging out is just that. You want to know why people get so mad about stop and frisk? It's because a lot of those guys AREN'T drug dealers. They live in crammed apartments and just want to chill with their friends. Ok, some of them are unsavory, but not all of them are breaking the law. Can we agree on that point? Did you have friends when you were a kid who sold pot? I did. But I didn't want to go to jail for their crimes, just for talking to them.

I've got six guys in my direct vicinity I want gone for good. That's who we're focused on. You might come around from outside or be a newcomer and finger the wrong people, based on how they look or how they talk or how they hang out. THAT's why we got to help the cops identify the REAL problems. Let me give an example. This tall guy was hanging out in front of a known hot building the other day. Stood there all morning long, never moved, looked like he was a look-out. I asked a member of our block association the next morning, a guy I'm friendly with, to see what the story was. Turns out the guy is mentally off, you know, "special." Sweet as can be, part of a program, wouldn't hurt a fly. Not into drugs. Just likes to stand in front of the building and watch the world go by. See what I mean?

They can round these guys up and they will be right back out there tonight if we don't have info that sticks. These guys have nowhere to go. What do you think is going to happen if they come by with a paddy wagon and throw them in the back? Problem solved?

C'mon guys. Let's stop being so cynical and start working together and learning from one another. I know you guys are the involved ones, so I really hope to see on the 12th. If you leave the meeting as fed up then I'll forgive you, but let's give it one more try.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Also, to the person who wrote this:

"And I am not about to take it upon myself to educate the youth and teenagers about drugs and weed, sorry. If their parents aren't about to enforce any of that, who the hell am I that they will listen to? I have my own kids to teach these things to, in a world that glorifies that lifestyle. Instead of that yearly party that gets thrown on one of the Manor streets, why not use that money for community education? There are a millions places in NYC I can take my kid to a street fair. This neighborhood needs much more than that right now."

You seem to think that giving money to community education is a better idea than practicing being a good community member yourself. The example you're setting for your own children is not something I aspire to in the slightest. Your "us against them" attitude is part of the problem as far as I'm concerned. I'm not even sure I understand how you define the word "community."

Anonymous said...

I am the person who made that comment, and what I am saying is this; if the cops can't/won't do anything, why should I put myself in danger? How does that mean I am not being a good community member? I have made the calls, I have given the information. I am not the one dealing the drugs or using them, or shooting innocent people. And yes, community education would be a good thing. My "us" against "them" that I am teaching my kids is "us" - make better choices, "them" - they don't always make the best choices with the lifestyle they choose to lead, that leads down a bad path. Sue me.

Anonymous said...

I am doing the same thing with my child, 11:17 and totally guilt free about it. I DO teach judgment of others, like so many think is terrible to do. I teach my child compassion but at the same time I am teaching him the difference between good, responsible choices and bad ones. I am teaching him there are consequences to all decisions whether it being how you play with others in the sandbox (you won't have friends if you grab away toys) to consequences of how hard you work in school or at your job, or whether you use or sell drugs. Judging others as having made bad decisions is a part of learning to make good ones. That's not up for debate for me but go ahead and debate it if you want.

ElizabethC said...

Listen, I think there is a point being missed here. If the idea is that we can just sit back and rely upon the police to "handle these issues" we can look at experience: it isn't working. For whatever reason, the same criminals are still out there doing all the same things. Whether it's the fact that they need our "help and knowledge" or it's just a case of being a squeaky wheel that gets stuff done, another method needs to be tried. I admit to getting frustrated on many occasions with the police, but I'm simply too stubborn to just write it off and move.

And frankly, the "why should I endanger myself" attitude IS part of what MAKES that possible. The guys on my block absolutely rely on intimidation. The blasting loud music at all hours of the night, the carousing on other peoples stoops and dealing, the BLATANT criminal activity. They do whatever they want, and no one says a word, and few even call the police. Having them there IS endangering you, and if the shootings last year didn't prove that, then I don't know what will.

I'm sorry, but change doesn't always come easily or comfortably. If we want a different neighborhood, we will have to take part in creating one. It certainly doesn't seem fair to simply sit back and leave the heavy lifting to others, does it? I mean...what kind of message does that give the kids?

ElizabethC said...

Also..Many parents in this neighborhood didn't grow up in this city, or even in this country, so maybe we could cut them some slack on not knowing how to handle issues they may not have any experience with. Or just be a little compassionate in general.

MadMommaCarmen said...

Tim, you need a "like" button.

Elizabeth C. you are spot on and I agree with you!

I am, however, incredibly frustrated. Having been the squeaky wheel since I moved here, I'm at a loss over what else we, as a community, need to do.

When the shooting at Lincoln happened, at least a dozen people on my block called the Crime Stoppers line with information. With the police not showing up, and the individual in question still chillin' out on the block, this has caused people on my block to express feelings of defeat, to question why even do the right thing when there are no consequences for illegal behavior (in this case, killing someone).

I know that there are no easy answers, but its pissing me off when I see a dozen cops hanging out in the shade of Rutland and Rogers, I tell them they're dealing drugs openly on Fenimore St and we need their help, then they all walk over, stand on the corner of Fenimore and Bedford, then walk away, not saying a thing to the drug dealers (who continued to openly deal drugs while smiling over to the cops socializing on the corner).

Anonymous said...

Um, I think it's pretty clear what's happening in PLG- cops on the take. Simple as that.

PSA said...

Speaking of Woodruff, did you know that's CRIP territory? There's a stop sign on corner of Woodruff and E21 St. Someone tied a blue bandana to it. Check it out if you're in the area. The more you know...

*Plays The More You Know Tune*

ElizabethC said...

Man, how could I *not* know the color scheme of the Woodruff territories? I watch the carousing from my window. I've watched meetings go down in the middle of the freakin' street at 9am, colors ablazin'.

Anonymous said...

Hi- I was at the meeting with DA Hynes. Though it was great to attend, i felt like a lot of time was wasted on weed smoking in hallways and complaints about a dysfunctional family living in a building on Lincoln Rd.

The turn out was disgusting, like 6 people there including myself..I was the only representative from my side (70th precinct) side of Clarkson Ave.

I did mention the ongoing quality of life issues that 60 Clarkson Ave. has been experiencing over the past few years, as it has been a very HOT topic at past block association meetings. I have to follow-up with the contacts I met at the meeting and hopefully some of those issues can be resolved.

Some of the comments that Mr. Q has stated on this page, are quite disturbing but i wouldn't expect anything less from really serve the community in a positive way, one must not be so self-serving.

Good day folks!