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.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Neighbors Unite Against Unacceptable Gun Violence - "PLAY FOR PEACE," next Wednesday Oct 9 at Parkside Playground - Come One, Come All!

Enough with the meetings. Some of us feel it's time to try something more public, more creative, more urgen. The Q hopes that every one of you, regardless of age and regardless of whether you normally have any use for a playground, will come out for as much of the two hours of 5-7 PM on Wednesday October 9 (rain date October 10) for a completely unsanctioned, informal and generally non-organized "Play-In," a new take on an old idea, wherein we Flashmob our way into the consciousness of the Powers That Be. Bring checkers; bring dinner; bring a basketball; bring your kids; bring a jump rope; bring a guitar; bring your congas; bring a jacket; bring a non-alcoholic beverage; bring your general dismay that street crews have made it impossible to feel totally safe on our streets and even in our parks and goodness gracious even our playgrounds. This isn't how it has to be, and we're telling everyone who will listen - media, officials, law enforcement - that we need smart policing and better preventative medicine. And hey, thanks to Karen, we've even got a logo!



What: Play for Peace - An Afternoon of Fun and Play for ALL residents of northern Flatbush, Lefferts Gardens, southern Crown Heights - areas just east of Prospect Park. It's basically a "play in." No need to scream in protest. Cops and officials know about the problems of gun violence in our neighborhood, and how concerned we are. But what are they doing? What are WE doing? We're inviting everyone to come out and play in a park that's become a symbol of official indifference and community outrage. Come play on the playground, bring a picnic, bring card games or checkers, play basketball, work out. Hang out. Share a day with your neighbors, knowing that something must be done to quell the violence.

When: Wednesday, October 9 (raindate October 10) from 5PM - 7PM. We will then witness the cops actually locking up the park at dusk as they've claimed they would do and peacefully head home.

Where: The Parkside Playground at PS92, enter on Winthrop Street between Bedford and Rogers Avenues.

Who: Play for Peace has been created collectively by concerned members of the neighborhood. The leadership team includes local parents and activists and members of local civic, educational and religious organizations. But the broader community has been actively involved in efforts for some time, and Play for Peace is designed to highlight the vast majority of residents united against gang violence, shootings and drug dealing.

Why: Play for Peace is a grass-roots effort to draw attention to the alarming uptick in violent crime in the Lefferts Gardens area of Flatbush, Brooklyn. Gun violence and gang activity have become visibly more pronounced in the last two to three years. In response, neighborhood groups have repeatedly called meetings with the 71st and 70th precincts and elected officials, created task forces, engaged the District Attorney's office, and created listservs to share information. Recently, and in an effort to take an even more active role, residents have started organizing an officially sanctioned Civilian Observation Patrol (C.O.P.) for the area. Folks are tired of the same answers and often useless forums and discussions. More needs to be done to address the number one priority for most neighbors - public safety.

Background: In 2012, the Parkside Playground was opened to much fanfare in the Lefferts Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn. Built to be a youth-positive, attractive, communal, dual-purpose park for both families with young children (the playground itself) and for active teens and exercising adults (the accompanying basketball courts and workout stations), problems began to arise immediately after the ribbon cutting. Trash went uncollected, little maintenance to the landscaping and playground equipment took place, and episodes of drug and gang activity, including iPhone thefts, led many to wonder if the park was being monitored or cared for. Just two weeks after the playground's opening, a 22-year old was shot in the playground at 9PM, an hour well after the supposed closing time of the park (the NYPD posted signs stating the playground is locked after dusk; locking is an all too rare occurrence). Repeated calls for vigilance at and around the playground went unheeded. Local law enforcement trumpets of the large number of arrests made in and around the playground - but isn't this just more evidence that the area is out of control? Regular patrols and park closings surely would have encouraged lawbreakers to move elsewhere. Such common sense solutions were not forthcoming.

In the past year, the playground has seen its slides spray-painted with gang graffiti. Five of the original six swings were destroyed. (They were since replaced after community protest.) A group was formed to address the trash and gardening issues that needed tending. More shootings have taken place terrifyingly close to the playground itself. Groups of teens hang out and intimidate youngsters from late afternoon til all hours. A virtual “fight club” of local teens has been allowed to operate, as young boys are fighting each other to audiences of their peers. Adults and teens are allowed to “hang out” in the area made for small children, creating an unsafe and inappropriate environment. Marijuana smoking is common just a few yards from where children are playing. Drug deals go down in the open. Where, we ask, are the authorities in all this?

Zoom out and you'll see a neighborhood struggling with issues seemingly beyond their control. In the past year alone, the following shootings have taken place within a few blocks of the playground:

10/20/12          Westside of Flatbush at Lefferts
12/27/12          McKeever and Montgomery
1/02/13            Rogers at Martense
1/31/13            Empire and New York Ave
2/7/13              Sterling at Bedford
2/14/13            Church and East 18th
3/3/13              Linden and New York Ave
4/5/13              President and Franklin
4/2/13              Bedford and Carroll
4/9/13              Hawthorne near Nostrand
4/15/13            Lincoln Road near Q/B Train Station
4/16/13            Lenox at Bedford
6/3/13              Rutland Kingston
6/23/13            Fenimore btw Flatbush and Bedford
6/2/13              Lenox between Flatbush and Bedford
8/22/13            Flatbush at Beekman
9/7/13              Caton at Argyle
9/14/13            Fenimore btw Flatbush and Bedford
9/16/13            Winthrop near Bedford (same block as playground)

The nearby 71st and 70th precincts have both seen major increases in shootings, this despite drops in neighboring precincts. It's the sheer number of shootings in a relatively small geographical area that have led residents to believe that their needs and concerns are not being addressed. Something is going on between young people and "street crews," and gunplay is becoming the accepted form of retaliation. The teens and young adults involved in the street crews tell confidantes that they're scared too. Many of us feel threatened, demoralized and even enraged by the seemingly empty assurances of the powers that be. On October 9 (rain date October 10), we hope to show the City that we're tired of the same ol' same ol'. New approaches, from direct communication with young people, to community centers, to after-school programs, to beat cops who understand their neighborhood, to better gang infiltration and an understanding of crew dynamics, to working with landlords to evict repeat offenders, to proactive measures like better lighting and cameras and locking playgrounds at night and better enforcement of quality of life crimes - these we ask in the spirit of cooperation to bring down crime and make the area safer for ALL neighborhood residents.

We ask that the media join us on October 9 and interview neighborhood residents and take a look at the many, many folks who are ready to try something new, ANYTHING at all, to bring attention to this seemingly intractable problem.

For questions and comments, please contact:
Tim Thomas at 917-822-5346
Pavani Thagirisa at


Anonymous said...

Ask the neighborhood to look at this list and add any shootings that are missing. The list should not only include incidents in which somebody happened to be hit. It should be a list of all shots being fired. Every bullet fired has potential to hit targets and bystanders both.

Mom on Winthrop said...

This is great Q! We will be there!
In the last month a group of teens (approximately 20-30 kids) take over the park and are there from 3:30 to 9 and later. They are loud, trash the park, fight etc. I have made repeated calls to the police. I have been told that they can't have police there 24/7 even though the cop explained to me that some of the behavior I have been seeing may be gang initiation activities.I complained that police presence needs to be there from 3-6 and the park closed when it gets dark. That is hardly 24/7. If there was ANY policing of the park the teens would not gather there. As it is now, they gather there and do whatever they want, it is a very unsafe environment!
It would be great if fellow residents on Winthrop would call 911 when the kids are in there after dark. As per 311, they are trespassing and it is a 911 call. I have called twice this week and feel like I may be the only one and so seen as just a "complainer". The first time, the cops checked it out and called me back and the second time they didn't even bother to show up. The park also was not locked for most of all of last week.

Mom on Winthrop said...

The shooting on Flatbush and Beekman actually occurred on 8/22. It began on Winthrop in front of the playground. I called 911 because the teens involved started running down Winthrop towards Flatbush. The shooting on Flatbush was a continuation of this incident.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

True that. I don't know why Spotcrime had 9/2 listed, but looking back at my post you're 100% correct.

Anonymous said...

I had to leave the playground at 4:20 this afternoon because about 20-30 teens came over to the kid area and started fighting. I got my 4 year-old out of there and called 911. I don't know if the cops showed up or not since my main priority was keeping my kid out of harms way. See you all on the 9th.

MadMommaCarmen said...

Mom on Winthrop, I assure you that you're not the only one calling. The police simply don't show up.

I've reached a point where I need to be convinced that there's not something fishy going on with the 71st precinct.

Anonymous said...

Like others, I am convinced that something shady is afoot in the 71. I've been in some dodgy, dodgy areas before (SE DC in the early 90s) and even I am continually stunned by the seeming indifference by the 71.

Mom on Winthrop said...

Anonymous @ 4:50. The police never showed up. I witnessed the fight as well and saw parents leave. This has been happening almost everyday for the last month or so.

@ Mad Momma Carmen
I am glad to hear that other people are calling, because I was starting to feel like I was crazy. I'm not glad to hear that they aren't responding. They did show up when I called last week but they just drove by, the kids scattered and waited on the corner for the cops to leave. They called me and said no kids were in the park and I explained that they were just waiting for the cops to leave and someone may have to get out their car and police the area! They did respond that night by closing the park but, the next day it was business as usual.
This is particularly angering because if cops were on the corner near, near the park, in the area, looking in, driving by consistently even, the teens wouldn't collect there.

Anonymous said...

@Mom on Winthrop--that is really disappointing that the cops didn't even bother to show up at all. They did not call me back either. So, apparently, large groups of teens having physical fights on a playground meant for little kids is okay with our police precinct?

--a Mom on Parkside(formerly anon at 4:50)

Mom on Winthrop said...

At about 8 pm today cops did close the park. I just wish it was consistent.

rose said...

I will see you all on October 9. I am tired of this. Mom on Winthrop, I've also called the police numerous times-to no avail. I went there with my niece yesterday and had to run out.These gang members are of the idea that this is their turf;we need to send a strong message it's not there's to claim.

Anon123 said...

"I am glad to hear that other people are calling, because I was starting to feel like I was crazy. I'm not glad to hear that they aren't responding. They did show up when I called last week but they just drove by, the kids scattered and waited on the corner for the cops to leave. They called me and said no kids were in the park and I explained that they were just waiting for the cops to leave and someone may have to get out their car and police the area!"

The only thing missing from this quote is a Benny Hill theme song to highlight just how incompetent the 71st can be at times.

And for the umpteenth time, someone please tell some of these shiftless asses at the 71 to get out of their damn cruisers and PATROL the area. Call backup if you have a problem removing the spawns of Satan from the playground. Just do something! I'm not asking them to crack some skulls or eat these gangbangers but just keep them out of the playground and break up the crew they run with.

Anon. said...

To everyone here who has posted their frustrations. Please attend the Play for Peace event on October 9th at Parkside Playground. It is imperative that we show as much collective concern as possible in order to get the local law enforcement, media, and politicians to pay the Playground (and PLG generally) the attention it needs to address these criminal matters.

Mom on Winthrop and whoever else currently uses the Playground and/or lives nearby and has raised concern, please email me offline at I would like to discuss starting a "phone tree" of sort so that when someone sees a problem at the Playground we get as many people to call 911/311 as possible to address; similar to what Tim and folks did with respect to getting the swings replaced recently. The more voices are heard, the more responsive these people will be--or at least they can't ignore us as easily.

Pavani (Mom and Long-time resident of of Winthrop II)

The Snob said...

This is a great idea. I am communicating to families in both schools that border the playground (LGCS and PS 92). See you on the 9th!

Anonymous said...

How do we as a community win the favor of the 71st precinct? Do we try to call out the 71st precinct to the media about their lackadaisical nature to fight crime and their backing of local gangs. Or do we fight fire with fire? Meaning obviously the gangs are giving a cut of their profits to the police force. Can we as a community create a fund raising rally to provide additional funding to our local precinct? I see activists all the time going door to door to collect money to stop fracking and what not. Why don't we create a coalition of activists to collect funds to provide simple thank you gifts to the police force. We could hold a BBQ lunch or dinner for them. Instead of showering the 71st with insults let's try the opposite for once and see how it works. It may not create any change but why not give it a try?

JkBk said...

Thanks so much to everyone organizing this. My family and I will be there.

Regarding the shooting at Flatbush and Beekman, there were actually two: one on August 22, at about 8pm, and the other (a shooting/stabbing) on September 2 at 2am.

There was also a triple shooting on 7/13/2013 at 346 Rutland Road.

There was also a double shooting on June 19 in front of 220 Montgomery, near Bedford

There was a fatal shooting on Brooklyn Avenue near Fenimore on June 3.

Are we counting stabbings? because there was one of those, at 5:30 in the afternoon, at Parkside and Nostrand on June 2.

A few weeks ago, I started making a list of violent crimes, to try to make sense of it. Talk about a depressing exercise. Also in a trying-to-make-sense-of-it attempt, I went to the precinct's community council meeting last week and heard that shootings are down for the year (wait, what?) and that the real problem, from the precinct's perspective, are the gangs in Ebbets Field and Franklin Ave. Although the captain did say they'd made 15-20 arrests in Parkside playground over the summer.