Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Five Park Deaths Of Greenpoint Homeless In 15 months

A homeless man hanged himself on this fence in Greenpoint’s McGolrick Park last Friday. (Photo by Tom Callan)


A homeless man hanged himself in a park — the fifth death inside Greenpoint parks in the past 15 months — and residents say that such needless loss of human life will only get worse as the temperatures chill, according to the Brooklyn Paper.

Police said the man hanged himself with a rope from a fence on the Russell Street side of McGolrick at 8:30 pm on Sept 24.

Witnesses found the deceased body of a 40-year-old man, sitting motionless on a park bench, minutes before the park regularly closes to the public.

Neighbors were stunned at the news — and angry at the city for not protecting its neediest citizens.

“It’s pretty sad,” said Greenpoint resident Jack Drury. “I know the homeless hang out near that park and they’re out there in pretty bad weather most of the time. It’s a shame.”

The man’s suicide is the fifth homeless death to occur to in Greenpoint parks over the past 15 months, according to a city source.

But the Department of Homeless Services has tabulated only one death since 2009 — and that occurred in a shelter.

And one month later, police found another homeless man who hanged himself in Barge Park off Commercial Street.But in March, an inebriated man was found in McCarren Park, having reportedly drowned to death.

Last year, a man died in McCarren Park from hypothermia in December and another died from unknown causes in July.

Councilman Steve Levin (D–Greenpoint) called the spate of deaths “disturbing and disconcerting,” and called on the city to expand its substance abuse treatment.

“We can’t go to another winter where we have guys dying of hypothermia in the park,” said Levin. “We can’t turn a blind eye to it and the community wants to do something.”

That said, Levin has been fighting a new shelter on nearby McGuinness Boulevard. Indeed, even compassionate Brooklynites seem to have a problem with how to help the homeless.

Earlier this summer, Greenpoint residents complained about the presence of homeless men near park playgrounds this summer.

But health workers and religious leaders say that many of the park dwellers choose to sleep there because they have been kicked out by their families or are alcoholics.

Greenpoint Reformed Church’s Rev. Ann Kansfield believes that city agencies must seek out Greenpoint’s homeless and park-bound individuals.

“Part of the tragedy of suicide is that it comes out of a deep sense of hopelessness,” said Kansfield. “We need to be able as a community and society that there are hope-filled options.”

Read More:

Fifth park death in Greenpoint in 15 months
The Brooklyn Paper - October 4, 2011 - By Aaron Short

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