A boy at entrance to Brower Park, which has recently been scene of increased gang activity, according to police. This park is one of several in the borough that has recently seen a dramatic increase of gang related activity. (Photo: Nicholas Fevelo for NY Daily News)
On February 25th, NYPD arrested 16 people in Owls Head Park for gang related activity. A police source said they were suspected members of the Latin Kings gang. Between 18 - 20 individuals had gathered in the park for a meeting after dusk according to police. Sixteen were arrested for unlawful assembly - "causing fear and public alarm, " and given tickets for disorderly conduct, and violation of a local law relating to being in a park after dusk. A twenty-year-old Hispanic male was arrested for Inciting to Riot.
Gang activity had been a problem in the same park. In June 2010 a Middle Eastern teen was shot and critically wounded by 16-year-old Hispanic. The police believe the incident was gang and racially motivated.
The assailant and two other suspects, also 16, were arrested and charged with attempted murder and assault. The wounded teen was rushed to Lutheran Medical Center, where he was listed in critical yet stable condition after surgery. - Geoffrey Croft
A Crown Heights park has been taken over by teenage gang members, forcing some frightened residents out of the sprawling patch of green, according to New York Daily News.
Brower Park between Brooklyn and Kingston Aves. is the base of the Brower Park Gang, aka the Brower Park Boys, Police Department officials told residents at a recent community meeting.
Residents complained the menacing teens - who began hanging out in the park over the summer - skip school, smoke pot and drink alcohol during the day.
Recent nearby shootings have only heightened fears.
The young thugs also have gotten in the way of efforts to recast the park as a destination hosting Shakespeare plays, a skateboard competition and countless concerts.
"You don't feel safe; it's unfair," said Kem Charles, 33, holding her 21-month-old son, Lawton, across the street from Brower's shiny, colorful playground. "To live next to a park and not being able to use it . ... I travel to Brooklyn Heights or downtown when I want to take him to the park," said Charles.
The Brower Park has been attracting a diverse crowd as Crown Heights becomes whiter and wealthier. Christina Ferrell, 37, was walking her new Shih Tzu puppy with her daughter, Anaiya, 12, on Brooklyn Ave. next to the park - but wasn't about to go inside.
"I wouldn't let [Anaiya] come here by herself," said Ferrell. "A lot of kids smoke weed on the benches. A lot of shootings around here. Cops come through here a lot."
Some people did venture into the park on a bright sunny day last week and lounged in the park.
Black men sporting dreadlocks strummed African wooden instruments. Hasidic Jewish kids played a game of soccer, and a multiracial mix of dog walkers were swapping pet stories near the Kingston Ave. entrance.
Still, fear was looming.
Alliot Belgrave, walking her 2-year-old English bulldog, said dog owners set up an email network alerting each other about crimes in the park. Dog walkers said they would only go in as a group at designated times of the day.
"There are all these junior thugs who don't understand life," said Belgrave. "They have no problem taking other people's lives."
This month, the area saw 13 people shot in just five days, police said. Cops said they are cracking down in the park until the gunfire ceases.
"We will do whatever it takes until they stop shooting," a police source said. "We sent in the mounted police and extra patrols. These kids are trying to take over the park. It's a problem."
Friends of Brower Park President Philip Hawkins said there's "a concern for safety" after 6 p.m. "The police are patrolling the park more aggressively. They are aware of the Brower Park Gang," Hawkins said.
A search on You Tube turned up videos of the gang members rapping and fighting inside and outside the swatch of greenery. On a recent afternoon at the park, a group of teens hung out during school hours sitting on the edge of the basketball court.
When asked if any where part of the Brower Park Boys, laughter erupted.
"Did the cops send you?" one boy asked a reporter.
James Thompson, 20, who grew up in the area and said he now plays basketball for a community college in Kansas, spoke on behalf of his friends.
"The cops just drive through and harass us. This summer, there was a lot more cops," he said.
Cynthia Arther, 74, who has lived across from Brower Park for 15 years, said she hasn't gone to the park since Mayor Rudy Giuliani was in office. "There was law and order when Giuliani was around. We didn't have this foolishness," Arther said.
Now, "they do their drugs. They do it out in the open when people seeing it. They need cops in there around the clock. They are getting too bold."
New York Daily News - September 19th 2011 - By Simone Weichselbaum
A Walk In The Park - August 25, 2011
A Walk In The Park - February 26, 2011
A Walk In The Park - June 23, 2010