Thursday, January 14, 2010

The French Connection Updated

I thought I'd used this clip to "place hold" for some stories of how, despite the cooked statistics, the city and the LES can still be a gritty place
an excerpt from the lowdown
The police may very well "know about it," but they clearly have no interest in discussing what's happening on the streets. This past month, during an interview with The Lo-Down, a precinct captain abruptly ended an interview when the subject of gang violence came up. The Village Voice, apparently, got a similar response:
We asked Paul Browne, the NYPD's spokesman, about these perceptions, and also requested crime stats that might show whether youth crime was indeed surging, but he didn't respond to our e-mail.

an excerpt from the villagevoice
In a Crime-Free City, How Does a Young Gangbanger Represent?, By Graham Rayman
You now live in the safest New York City that has existed since the Beatles came to America. Murders are now so rare—at least for a city this size—that you have to go back to the Kennedy administration to find similar numbers. Just ask Mayor Bloomberg. Like a kind of political Tourette's syndrome, he tells you that's the case every chance he gets. New York is now so tame that old-timers grumble that it's become a boring town and wish openly for at least a little of 1977's grit and grime.
So considering what a patsy your metropolis is now, it's hard to believe any of you are going to be alarmed at what some young people in the Lower East Side are telling us—that actually, for them, this town is still a jungle.
Yeah, we had the same reaction.
Prove it, kid.
There's this one street kid—we'll call him Johnny—who's 18 and lives with his asthmatic grandmother and cousins in a cramped East 12th Street apartment because his father kicked him out of their apartment and his mom left the city. He says he's on probation for five years, which stemmed from a robbery arrest. He says he knocked someone over and took their cash so he could buy lunch. He says he's been jumped and beaten with metal bats. He says he's afraid to walk past certain public housing projects that he considers rival gang territory. He wants to leave the neighborhood, but feels like he has no other option than to stay.
Johnny describes a world of young louts endlessly roaming the streets, of the constant presence of drugs, of brazen instigators who post YouTube videos to make threats and call out other groups and who fill MySpace pages with tough-guy images and over-the-top boasts. These wannabes and badasses associate themselves with the public housing projects they live in, giving themselves colorful names like Money Boyz in the Campos Houses, and No Fair Ones (NFO) in the Smith Houses.

an excerpt from the Villager
Mothers are ganging up to fight youth violence on East Side. A spate of violent incidents in the East Village over the past three months has prompted two women to tackle the problem of gangs and violence the only way they know how — as mothers.
Aida Salgado, 40, and Maizie Torres, 42, are now partners against crime in a new organization they have founded called Mothers in Arms. The initiative aims to get parents more involved in ensuring that their children are safe and are engaged in constructive activity, such as after-school programs and recreational activities, to deter them from joining local gangs.
The Police Department did not make available statistics on gang-related activity. But the fatal stabbing of Glenn Wright, 21, by an alleged gang member at the Baruch Houses on Sept. 12 was one recent incident that served as a harsh reminder that gang violence still exists in the neighborhood.
“We want to get parents more involved and educate them about these matters,” said Salgado, who suspects that many parents are in the dark about their own children’s activities. “They need to know where their children are and who they hang out with.”
Salgado’s and Torres’s own sons grew up in an environment dominated by gangs. The mothers say many of their sons’ friends are gang members. Resisting the peer pressure to join gangs is a major challenge for both of their children. But through Mothers in Arms, the women hope that parents will play a more active role in preventing their children from getting involved in violence.

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