Thursday, June 30, 2016

Man, 24 Shot In Bronx Playground - Second Shooting In 7 Days In An Unlocked Park


By Geoffrey Croft

For the second time in a week a Bronx resident was shot in an unlocked playground, NYC Park Advocates has learned.

A 24-year-old male was shot in the hip last night in Mount Hope Playground on E. 177 St. at Walton Avenue near the basketball courts  according to police. 

The incident occurred a little after 9:15 pm in a crowded plalyground within the convines of the 44 pct. 

The victim was transported to St. Barnabus Hospital and is expected to live.

Police found two shell casings at the scene. 

According to witnesses people came running out from the nearly pitch black playground yelling and scattering in all directions.  Parents were pushing baby carriages trying to get away as fast as they could from the hectic scene.

Residents who live directly across the street from the popular park said they heard the sound of the gun shots among the bursts of firework pops which are heard frequently this time of year throughout the neighborhood.

“We heard shots, we’ve used to it,” said one resident. "They sound different from fireworks."

The victim told police he heard shots and then felt pain, stating that the shooter was unknown.

“That’s the story he told us,” an incredulous officer said at the scene. “He’s not telling us.”

Residents say the playground’s wrought iron fences are never locked at night.  

“Its always packed but there are no lights. If they aren’t going to lock it they should put lights on the basketball court and a camera,” said one resident. 

“Isn’t it supposed to be locked at night,” a mother of two asked.  

“They don’t lock it but yet if they catch you in there they arrest you,” she said.

Last Thursday night a 26-year-old male was shot twice while he was on the basketball courts in an unlocked Arcilla Playground approximatly a mile away.

The victim was hit once in the right side of this torso and once in his pinky finger according to police.

One officer offered up this depressing summary of the frequency of violent incidences in parks.

“It’s the summer.” 
Locking Playgrounds

Every playground in the city that has a gate is supposed to be locked at night for safety reasons. The Parks Department deploys night lock up crews throughout the five boroughs. 

However after an alleged gang rape in an unlocked Brownsville playground in Brooklyn in January the Parks Department spokesperson lied and claimed that it wasn’t generally the agency’s policy to lock them at night.

“Playgrounds are not typically locked,”  Parks Department spokesman Sam Biederman responded in an effort to try to deflect liability when asked why that playground was left open. 

“That’s a bold face lie,” said a long time park worker who is responsible for locking up playgrounds at night.  “That’s just a lie.”

The union president who represents Park Enforcement Patrol officers also slammed the de Blasio administration for allowing the Parks Department to disseminate false misinformation at the time of the January incident.  

“Why isn’t the Parks Department locking its playgrounds at night?” asked Joe Puleo, president of DC 37 Local 983. 

“When did they implement this supposed new policy change or is it just limited to playgrounds in certain areas of Brooklyn?”  
At the time of that incident Parks Commissioner Mitchel Silver was also asked why the parks’ press spokesperson was giving false statements to the media and whether it was he or someone else who was instructing him to lie. 

Commissioner Silver did not respond.

Read More:

A Walk In The Park -  June 24, 2016  - By Geoffrey Croft

Friday, June 24, 2016

Police Search For Suspect Wanted Knifepoint Rape Of Woman, 42

Police released a sketch of the suspect wanted in a reported knifepoint rape of a 42-year-old female on May 17 in Gorman Park in Washington Heights.


The NYPD is seeking the public's assistance in identifying the following individual in connection to a rape within the confines of the 34 Precinct.  

Details are as follows:

It has been reported to police that on Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at approximately 7:30pm the individual approached the 42 year-old female victim as she walked inside Gorman Park and forced her off the concrete path and pushed her to the ground. 

The individual proceeded to put a knife to the victim's throat and rape her.  He is described as follows:

Male, dark skinned, approximately 35 years-old, approximately 6'3", approximately 260lbs, with a beard.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782).  The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

All calls are strictly confidential.

Man Shot Twice In Bronx Playground Basketball Court

Bloody clothes belonging to the victim and discarded medical items.
(Photos: Geoffrey  Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge


By Geoffrey Croft

A 26-year-old male was shot twice late Thursday evening in a playground, NYC Park Advocates has learned.

The  victim was on the basketball courts in Arcilla Playground when a gunman opened fire hitting him once in the right side of this torso and once in his pinky finger according to police.

He was taken to Lincoln Hospital in stable condition.

The suspect is described as a tall black male.

The incident occurred at approximately 10:20 pm. The park property is located on 164th Street, between Clay Avenue and Teller Avenue  adjacent to the Urban Science Academy and JHS 145 within the confines of the 44 pct.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Vandal Attacks New WiFi Kiosks In Bronx Park

An irate Bronx resident was arrested after vandalizing two newly installed WiFi charging stations in Joyce Kilmer Park.  The suspect became enraged when his new phone was stolen after he fell asleep on a bench (left) while it was being charged.  When he awoke he discovered his phone had been stolen.  The suspect went into a rage, knocking down two charging stations ripped out the wires. The charging station above was brought down inside the park near 161st Street, between Walton Avenue and the Grand Concourse.  (Photos: NYC Park Advocates)  Click on images to enlarge


By Geoffrey Croft

An irate cell phone user was caught vandalizing two newly installed WiFi charging stations in a Bronx park after his phone was stolen, NYC Park Advocates has learned.  

The vandal went “crazy”  and toppled over two 10-foot high AT&T WiFi and solar mobile charging kiosks, worth an estimated $ 9,800 dollars, in Joyce Kilmer Park.  He also ripped out wires that connect to the stations.

The suspect became enraged after discovering his new phone had been stolen after he fell asleep on a near by bench as it was being charged.   When he awoke he discovered his phone had been stolen.

 “He was going crazy, going crazy,” a witness told Park Enforcement Patrol (PEP) officers who were alerted to the incident by park patrons.

After getting a description of the suspect PEP officers went looking for him. By the time they arrived in the northern end of the park a few blocks away the suspect had knocked down another kiosk near the playground and NYPD were on the scene.

Police arrested Lonell Logan, 20, of the Bronx.   He was arraigned on June 15 and released on his own recognizance.  

The suspect ripped the platforms where the phone rest leaving exposed wires.

Logan was charged with criminal mischief and criminal trespass.  He is due back in court tomorrow, June 24th. 

A Temporary Order of Protection was issued for the suspect to stay away from a female witness according to the Bronx District Attorney’s office.  

A law enforcement source described the suspect as, “really aggressive.” 

Logan told officers that, “he was mad because someone had stolen his phone while he feel asleep on bench. He put his phone down to charge it and then went to the bench and feel asleep. He woke up and the phone wasn’t there,”  a law enforcement source said.

The first incident occurred inside Joyce Kilmer Park, about 11:20am on Tuesday, June 14 near Walton Avenue and East 161st Street across the street from the Bronx Court House. 

The second incident occured by the playground near 164th street. 

The incident came two weeks after a press conference in the park with the Parks Commissioner, the Borough President and AT&T’s New York President to announce the telephone company’s renewed an agreement keep providing free Wi-Fi in 27 locations across the city for five more years. 

Language printed on the stations warn users not to leave property unattended. 

Wi-Fi in the Parks initiative allows all smartphone and tablet users to connect free of charge regardless of the wireless provider.  

The weatherproof, but not vandal proof, solar-powered charging stations use the sun’s energy to charge its internal batteries, which is converted to power up phones and other devices even at night or on cloudy days. Each kiosk features cords to charge six devices at a time. 

The charging stations are now in 21 city parks at 27 locations including 2 in Joyce Kilmer Park.

The suspect is charged with vanalizing two brand new WiFi charging stations including one located in the northern end of the park near 164th Street where police caught up with him. 
(Photos: NYC Park Advocates)  Click on images to enlarge

Read More:

NY1 News - June 24, 2016 

New York Post - June 23, 2016 -  By Samantha Tomaszewski and Chris Perez

WNBC - May 31, 2016 - By Tracie Strahan

NY1 -  May 31, 2016 -  By Michael Herzenberg

WCBS -  May 31, 2016

New York Times - June 17, 2013  - By Diane Cardwell 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Park Workers Who Saved Woman & Children After Being Stabbed By Boyfriend Being Honored At City Hall

“He was following her. I walked toward the door, he turned around and went back inside. He was going to finish her off.”  -  Edwin Medina, City Park Worker

First responders transfer the 24-year-old victim from a Parks Department van to an ambulance on March 24th.  Two park workers are being honored today at City Hall for helping to save a mother of two after she was stabbed by her deranged boyfriend in Port Richmond, Staten Island.   Her 1-year-old son was also slashed during the attack.  The ceremony begins at 1:00. 

(Photos: NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge

Staten Island

By Geoffrey Croft

The two brave Parks Department workers who intervened to help save a woman and her children after she was stabbed several times by her deranged boyfriend are being honored at a ceremony in City Hall today, NYC Park Advocates has learned.   

City Park Workers (CPW’s) Edwin Medina, 60, and Mamadou N’Doye, 37, had just stopped to clean their last park of the day, a Green Street on Innis Street & Nickolas Avenue on March 24th when they heard screams.

City Park Workers (CPW's) Edwin Medina, (l) and Mamadou N’Doye, (r) are being honored today at a ceremony at City Hall for helping to save a woman and her two children who had just been attacked during a horrific domestic dispute.    

“All of the sudden, we heard ‘help, help,’’'  recalled Edwin Medina.

The park workers said they couldn't see where the screams for help were coming from. 

“We heard her before we saw her,” said Mamadou N’Doye.  

They said they soon saw a woman running around the corner carrying two kids, a boy and a girl. Everyone was covered in blood.

“She ran out of the house, almost naked, she had a t-shirt on,” said Medina. “She was running toward us, clutching two small children. She was drenched in blood.  She said, ‘my boyfriend stabbed me, my boyfriend stabbed me.’”

“She ran straight for the van,” said Mamadou N’Doye.  “We grabbed her. She jumped in the front seat.” 

Medina said he started towards the house when he saw the assailant.   

“He was following her,” Medina said. “I walked toward the door, he turned around and went back inside. 

He was going to finish her off.”

The park workers locked the doors of their van and called 911.

Mr. Medina said he took his Parks Department jacket and covered the boy.

"The baby was screaming. I took my coat, and wrapped him up,” he said.

First responders work on the mother inside Parks Department van 7296 for fifteen minutes in order to stabilize her.  The woman's three-year-old daughter is safely in the arms of an adult (r). The van is parked by the Green Street where the two park employees had just arrived to clean, approximately 100 feet away from the apt. the victim shared with her boyfriend. 

“Everything happened so fast. My main concern was the children,” said Medina, a father of two kids, ages 9, and 10.  

“We weren’t going to let him get to the children. We said don’t worry, you are safe," he said.

“She had been stabbed on the top of her head, her neck," said N’Doye. "She’s been stabbed couple times in her chest. She was bleeding really bad. She was in bad shape. She lost a lot of blood. She was in shock,” he said.

“She was breathing really hard, she was shaking,” said Mr. Medina. “The kids were crying hysterical, one of the kids was stabbed in the lip.  We tried to calm them down.  Calm down, the ambulance is on its way,” I said.  

Within minutes police and ambulance arrived. 

EMS worked on her for 15 minutes inside the parks vehicle.

“The van turned into a hospital triage,” Median said. “When she was in the van she had lost a lot of blood. It was a mess, there was blood everywhere,” he said.

“Stay with us, stay with us,” an EMS employee told the woman. 

After stabilizing her in the van EMS then transferred the victim to an ambulance.

The mother and son were transported in stable condition to Richmond University Medical Center.

Some of the blood on the front seat. 

Police told the park workers that the suspect had barricaded himself inside the apt. at 271 Nicholas Ave. 

The assailant also stabbed himself and set the apartment on fire.

Emergency Services Unit broke open the door and arrested, Sallieu Mansaray, 38. 

The Fire Department put out the fire.

Both Edwin Medina and Mamadou N’Doye said that instinct kicked and insisted they weren’t heroes. 

"It was shocking, “ said Mr. Medina. “I just couldn’t believe what happened to her. It could’ve been my sister, my girlfriend, and my neighbor.  Anything could’ve happened.

“The detective said, ‘thank you so much, you saved that woman’s life.’”

“I was so happy,” Medina said.  “We were meant to be there. She would’ve been dead.”

FDNY tend to the fire at 271 Nicholas Avenue that the suspect set to the apt. 

Suspect Sallieu Mansaray lies on a stretcher on the ground surrounded by the police after he was apprehended. 

Police cordoned off the area around Innis Street & Nickolas Avenue on March 24th.

City Park Workers Edwin Medina and Mamadou N’Doye. 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Sex Crime Pattern Near Kissena Park

The police are asking for the public’s assistance in locating a man wanted in several sexual assaults within the confines of the 109 Precinct near Kissena Park.  

The male is described as Hispanic, 40, 200 lbs, 6'0", with a slim and muscular build, black hair with some grey, and a tattoo of a red and green star on the back of his arm above the elbow.

Details are as follows: 

Incident #1 -  On Friday, June 10, 2016 at approximately  6:30 on Oak Avenue a 50-year-old female was riding her bicycle beside Kissena Park when a male grabbed her and pulled her towards the park. The male attempted to talk to the victim as he touched himself over his clothing. The female then broke free and fled. 

Incident #2 - Two days later on Sunday, at approximately 1015 am at the intersection of Colden Street and Mulberry Avenue near the park, a 24-year-old female was approached by the male who engaged her in conversation. The man hugged her, kissed her on the cheek, and grabbed her buttocks. The male then touched himself over his clothing, and the victim fled on foot. 

Incident #3 - On Wednesday, in the vicinity of 56 Avenue and 148 Street a 41-year-old female was approached by a male who grabbed both her arms and tried to pull her into a backyard. 

The victim screamed and the male fled in a red vehicle.

The male is described as Hispanic, 40, 200 lbs, 6'0", with a slim and muscular build, black hair with some grey, and a tattoo of a red and green star on the back of his arm above the elbow.

Two of the victims spoke only Spanish. 

Anyone with information in regards to these incidents is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782).  The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

All calls are strictly confidential.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

21-Year-Old Found Beaten Unconscious In Queens Park


By Geoffrey Croft

A  21-year-old Flushing resident was found beaten unconscious in Queens Park last night, NYC Park Advocates has learned. 

A 911 caller found the vicim unconscious with head trauma inside College Point Park park near 14th Avenue at 6:30 pm.

He is critical at New York Hospital Queens. 

A witness said the victim was punched and kicked by a single assailant after an argument on the handball courts, according to police. 

No arrests have been made.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Parks Dept. Reverses Noose Sculpture Censorship Decision

The public will see the altered Stand Loud, Stand Tall sculpture by artist Aaron Bell today at its unveiling at 4:00 after the Parks Department  had censored it and refused to confer with the artist.  The agency  forced the African American artist to replace an important design feature with another if he wanted to be included in the year long exhibit in Riverside Park South. Mr. Bell replaced the original noose design (bottom) with back-to-back wide-open mouths made of mesh seen on top of the sculpture (above) and being installed on Tuesday  (below).

“I feel insulted and violated by the censorship of my art,” Mr. Bell stated at a community board meeting.     (Photos: Geoffey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) click on images to inlarge.

“It’s not what it’s supposed to be,” said Mr. Bell.    The sculpture can be found in Riverside Park South at W. 68th Street by the water. 


By Geoffrey Croft

The Parks Department has reversed its absurd noose sculpture censorship decision, NYC Park Advocates has learned. 

The about face came yesterday as a result of a meeting between artist Aaron Bell, Civil Rights Attorney Norman Siegel, Parks Department general counsel Alessandro Olivieri, Johnathan Kuhn, the agencys’ Art & Antiquities director, and Jennifer Lantzas, the deputy director of public art. 

The meeting occured at the Arsenal, the Parks Department headquarters on Fifth Avenue. 

It was agreed that Mr. Bell will be allowed to restore the original noose element which was an important feature of the original design. Mr. Bell will fabricate the piece in the next few weeks.   

“The NOOSE: In this context it is the embodiment of all forms of hate found in society,”  Mr. Bell wrote in his artist statement.  

“Hatred directed towards LGBT communities, religious communities, racial and ethnic communities. Hatred manifested by corrupt members of police departments and corrupt governments as well as hatred manifested by bullies and egocentric politicians.”   

According to an embarrassing statement released last week Parks Department spokesperson Sam Biederman, the sculpture couldn’t be in installed as designed by the artist out of “concerns” for people who do yoga, Pilates and senior movement programs, classes that are part of Summer On The Hudson series sponsored by the Parks Department and the Riverside Park Conservancy.

Mr.  Biederman began calling people last evening about the reversal.

The sculpture can be foundi in Riverside Park South at W. 68th Street along the water. 

A rendering of Arron Bell's original design which includes a noose on top. According a Parks Department statement issued last week the sculpture above - meant as a symbol against hatred and bigotry, and inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King - couldn’t be installed as designed by the artist out of "concerns" for people who do yoga, Pilates and senior movement programs.  

Read More:
The National Coalition Against Censorship

New York Times - May 27, 2016  - By Ginia Bellafante

New York Post - May 28, 2016  - By Melkorka Licea 

The West Side Rag -  May 18, 2016 - By Carol Tannenhauser

Police Arrest Suspect Wanted In Playground Shooting That Left Five Teens Injured


By Geoffrey Croft

Police arrested the suspect wanted in Monday's playground shooting that left five innocent teens injured.  

The incident occured at the Harry Maze Playground  at East 56th Street and Ave D, at 4:50 p.m in East Flatbush.

The victims had been playing basketball when a male black entered the park, placed a MCM designer backpack on the ground and began playing. After several minutes, he noticed the bag was missing.

The male left and returned a short time later with several others, including his older brother, Bernard Bellony, 22, who brought a handgun.

Bernard confronted and began arguing with the suspected thief, a guy named “Castro” when he pulled out the gun and opened fire, shooting five shots and hitting kids playing ball who were not the intended targets.

One 17-year-old was shot in stomach, another received a graze shot to the chest,  one 16-year-old were struck in the left leg, and another was struck in the right cheek iof his mouth,  and a 15-year-old was shot in right, rear finger. 

All were treated for non-life threatening injuries at Kings County Hospital. 

Bernard was arrested Tuesday morning at the office of his parol officer.

He is on parole until 2018.  He was released in March after serving two years in prison for a weapons possession charge.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Thousands Honor Orlando Shooting Victims At West Village Vigil

A large crowd assembled in Christopher Park across from the famed Stonewall Inn, the site of the famous “Stonewall Riots” in 1969. The names of the shooting victims were written in chalk surrounding GAY LIBERATION, the sculpture that honors the gay rights movement and commemorates the events at the Stonewall Inn opposite the park.  The sculpture by George Segal was unveiled in 1992 and depicts two standing males and two seated females.  It is a popular pilgrimage site for people honoring the LGBT struggle. 

Our public parks often play an important role as a gathering place in times of enormous tragedy.     (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge


By Geoffrey Croft

Thousands of people gathered this evening in the West Village to pay their respects to the victims of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S history.  

They came to honor the forty-nine innocent people who were massacred, and fifty-three wounded during Sunday’s shooting spree at The Pulse, a club frequented by gay people in Orlando Florida.

People of all faiths, ages and sexual orientation came together on Monday night in the streets as one. 

Thousands of people turned out this evening for a vigil held in the West Village to pay respects to the victims of the Orlando Fl. killings, the deadliest mass shooting in U.S history.  

Attendees brought flowers, others held signs, some held each other, others cried.   

The crowd chanted, “New York Loves Orlando,”  and, “What do we want, gun control, when do we want it, now”,   along with popular LGBT slogans,   “We’re here, we’re queer get used to it.“

“It’s fitting tribute," John Cadue, 64, said while looking out at the large crowd and holding a sign outside the Stonewall Inn that read, Love Heals.  “United we stand,” said Cadue who moved to New York forty years ago.  “Love concurs everything. In the end love is all that matters.” he said.

As is often the case our public parks play an important role as a gathering place in times of enormous grief.

The crowd assembled in Christopher Park across from the famed Stonewall Inn, the site of the famous 1969 “Stonewall Riots.” 

The names of victims were written in chalk surrounding GAY LIBERATION, the George Segal (1924–2000) sculpture which honors the gay rights movement and commemorates the events at the Stonewall Inn opposite park.  The sculpture - unveiled in 1992 - depicts two standing males and two seated females is a popular pilgrimage site for people honoring the LGBT struggle. 

GAY LIBERATION, a sculpture by artist George Segal honors the gay rights movement and commemorates the events at the Stonewall Inn opposite the park.  

A steady flow of mourners placed flowers in front of the famed Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street which became an international symbol of the gay rights movement in the summer of 1969.  

After putting up for decades what the gay community thought were discriminatory and often violent policing, on June 28, 1969, patrons fought back against police after the bar was raided. The riots lasted three days, thirteen people were arrested.   

Decades later Stonewall became the first gay/lesbian site to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Mayor Bill De Blasio laying flowers on the sidewalk in front of the Stonewall Inn with wife Chirlane McCray, and Kurt Kelly, an owner of the Stonewall.  The bar on Christopher St. became an international symbol of the gay rights movement in the summer of 1969.

Elected officials including Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito and Public Advocate Letitia James placed flowers on the sidewalk in front of Stonewall.

Governor Andrew Cuomo addresses the crowd at Waverly and Stonewall Pl. where elected officials urged New Yorkers to push for sensible gun control.   “How many people have to die before this federal government comes to its senses?” the Governor said to loud applause.  "Until we have a national policy non of us is safe.“ 

Governor Andrew Cuomo gave a stirring speech. The orange placard on the podium read, WE ARE ORLANDO.

“The frustration at a society that would allow a madman to buy an assault weapon has gone on for too long,”  Governor Cuomo said.

“We went through it at Sandy Hook. How many people have to die before this federal government comes to its senses? We had Columbine, we had Virginia Tech, We had Sandy Hook, We had San Bernardino. We had Aurora Colorado. When does it stop? We passed gun control in this state. We outlawed assault weapons in this state.  We know it can be done,” the Governor said to loud applause.

Mayor Bill de Blasio acknowledged Enrique Rios of Brooklyn who was visiting friends in Orlando for the weekend when he was killed.

 “We lost Enrique and 49 others. And it was more than an attack on 49 Americans. It was an attack on American values, and it was an attack on New York values. We believe in inclusion. We believe in a society filled with unity and the embrace of all people,” de Blasio said. “We do not accept anyone who would sow division or hatred.”

The Mayor also called out a presidential candidate.

"We do not accept the notion of any of our leaders sowing hatred and division, particularly in the wake of tragedy, and that means you, Donald Trump," de Blasio said to cheers.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton also addressed the crowd.

Attendees held candles at the end of the vigil while the names of the victims were called out. 

Each name was met with the Spanish cry of "Presente!" from the crowd.

The entrance to Christopher Park on Seventh Avenue and West 4th Street.  

A large crowd gathers on W. 4th Street. 

The crowd listens to speakers under the watchfull eye of the police. 

A somber Mayor De Blasio, his wife Chirlane McCray, and Kurt Kelly, after paying their respects in front of the Stonewall Inn. 

Governor Andrew Cuomo waves to the crowd before laying flowers with his girlfriend Sandra Lee in front of the Stonewall Inn.

Looking across the eastern end of Christopher Park towards the Stonewall Inn.

(Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge