Thursday, December 29, 2016

Park Crime Jumps 32%

Crime in city parks jumped thirty-two percent over the last nine months.  Violent crime rose nineteen percent and increased in all four categories.   Five hundred and two people reported being the victim of violent crime during the first three quarters of 2016.  Robberies increased twenty-nine percent.

The de Blasio administration continues to maintain that park crime is,”rare.”


By Geoffrey Croft

Crime in city parks increased thirty-two percent in 2016  compared to the previous time period according to the latest figures complied by NYPD and analyzed by NYC Park Advocates.   

There were 955 reported crimes in 2016 in city parks over nine months compared to 721 in 2015 over the same period. 

Violent crime increased nineteen percent.  Five hundred and two people reported being the victim of violent crime in 2016 compared to four hundred and twenty-one in 2015 during the same time period.  Violent Crime was up in all four categories. 

Eight people were murdered during the first nine months of 2016,  fourteen were raped, three-hundred and two people were robbed, and 142 were victims of felony assaults.

Murder                8 in  2016 vs.  6 in 2015 a 33% increase
Rape  14   vs. 12  an 17% increase
Robbery    302  vs. 234 a 29% increase
Felony Assault   179  vs. 169 a 6 % increase

Bronx parks occupied six positions in the top ten in violent crimes reported.

Once again Flushing Meadows Corona Park lead the city in total crimes with sixty-eight. Coney Island Beach and Boardwalk lead the city in violent crimes. 

The figures do not include Central Park which has its own police precinct.

The statistics cover through September 31, 2016, the latest park crime data released by the NYPD. 

Brooklyn parks had seven rapes, Prospect Park lead the city with three,  Bronx parks had four, Manhattan two and Queens one.   

Brooklyn had four of the city’s eight murders, Bronx and Queens each had two. 

The striking figures come from the latest crime data tracked by the NYPD under a 2014 law.    The NYPD is now compiling crime data from 1,155 park properties, up from just 31 parks police began tracking in 2008. 

Violent crime rose nineteen percent and was up in all four categories during the first three quarters of 2016.   Five hundred and two people reported being the victim of violent crime - eight people were murdered, fourteen were raped, three-hundred and two people were robbed, and 178 were victims of felony assaults.

Total Crime

Violent Crime




Felony Assault

Twelve Month Data  

Crime increased twenty-nine precent over the last year compared to the previous time period according to the latest figures.   

Violent crime rose twenty-one percent.  Eleven people were murdered, twenty-two people were raped, three-hundred and ninety-eight people were robbed, and two hundred and eight were victims of felony assaults. 

Total Crime:      1, 139  vs. 881 an increase of  29  %
Violent Crime:      638 vs. 529  an increase of  21 %

Crime increased twenty-nine precent over the last twelve months, violent crime rose twenty-one percent.  Eleven people were murdered, twenty-two people were raped, three-hundred and ninety-eight people were robbed, and two hundred and eight were victims of felony assaults. 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

ME Rules Queens Park Beating Death A Homicide

Photo: Robert Stridiron
NYPD at the crime scene by the handball courts where John Pierre Villenueva, 21, was beaten unconscious inside College Point Park on June 15th.  He died on September 9th according to the Medical Examiner.  (Photo: Robert Stridiron/


By Geoffrey Croft

The Medical Examiner ruled today that the death of a 21-year-old Flushing resident found beaten unconscious in a Queens park on June 15th,  was a homicide NYC Park Advocates has learned. 

The victim, John Pierre Villenueva, 21,  was found unconscious near the handball courts with head trauma inside College Point Park near 14th Avenue and College Pt. Blvd. on June 15th just after 6:00 pm.   He died on September 9th as a result of blunt force trauma to the head. 

Mr. Villenueva's death had not been previously reported.

It appeared he was punched in the face and fell and hit his head on the ground according to officials. 

The victim has a fracture to the left side of the head and massive swelling of the brain.   He was hospitalized  and put on life support with no brain activity and never regained consciousness. 

Police said a witness reported the assault stemmed from an argument on the handball court and the victim was punched and kicked by one person.
No indication he was robbed.

Police have identified a “person of interest,” a 23-year old man who has not been arrested.

This person has 15 prior arrests for assault, disorderly conduct and marijuana possession and is actively on probation for a drug charge until 2020. 

No arrests have been made.

Crime Stoppers offered a $2,500 reward for information in the case. (Photo by Ellis Kaplan/Times Ledger)

Read More:

A Walk In The Park - June 16, 2016 - By Geoffrey Croft

Saturday, December 17, 2016

City Kills Beloved Deer, Tries To Blame State

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi
"Lefty" the deer that wondered into Jackie Robinson Park and delighted Harlem residents was killed by the city. The city then tried to blame Governor Cuomo who had directed the State DEC to offer assistance and transport the animal to a new habitat which the city said came too late. Animal rights advocates have long decried the States' blanket regulations that prohibit wildlife from being relocated which results in an automatic death sentence for the animal.   Several weeks ago the Governor had a change of heart and signed a bill that protects one species, the Muted Swann after vetoing State Senator Tony Avella's legislation twice.  (Photo: Andrew Savulich/NewYork Daily News)


By Geoffrey Croft

The beloved white-tailed deer that wondered into a Harlem park two weeks ago died yesterday in city custody after being tranquilized.

The deer had become a welcome visitor in Jackie Robinson Park for area residents.  They city however had announced its intention to kill the deer.

On Thursday the deer jumped a fence and migrated into the near by Polo Grounds NYCHA projects where police captured and tranquilized it.  The deer was moved to Animal Care Centers of NYC shelter on East 110th Street.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo office stepped in on Thursday and said the State DEC was willing to prevent it being killed and offered to have the deer transported out of the city.

“Over the last day the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation advised the City of New York that there are alternatives to euthanasia that they can consider including relocation, “  a spokesman for the Governor said in a statement.

“The City has now captured the deer and Governor Cuomo has directed DEC to offer assistance to the City to transport and find a new habitat for it immediately.”

On Friday morning an ignorant Mayor Bill de Blasio gave his assessment on the prospects of the deers’ life.  

“If a deer is already in a natural location and you can leave them there, then they have a chance of survival, but if not, you don’t really have another option,” The Mayor said on the Brian Lehrer radio show.

“It’s a question of is it going to be a quick and merciful death versus potentially a very long painful process.”

Yesterday morning just before 8:30am the Governor took to Twitter.

"We want to do everything we can to save the Harlem deer. We have told the city that the feds or we can transport it upstate today.”

When workers from the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the federal Department of Agriculture arrived at the Animal Care and Control Shelter the deer was dead.

Just before 2 p.m. Parks’ spokesman Sam Biederman announced that the deer had died and blamed the state. 

“Unfortunately because of the time we had to wait for D.E.C. to come and transport the deer, the deer has perished,”  Biederman told reporters, adding that the city had wanted to euthanize the deer all along. 

"This was an animal that was under a great deal of stress for the past 24 hours and had been tranquilized for much of that.”

The State Environmental Conservation Department did not agree with the Parks Department's press office assessment. 

“We offered yesterday to take possession of the deer and transport it to a suitable habitat,” the Environmental Conservation Department said in a statement. 

“The city did not accept our offer until just before noon today, and while we were arriving on scene the deer died in the city’s possession."

The city got what it wanted all along and killed the deer.

Image result for Deer Slayers NY daily News Front page

The issue has garnered a significant amount of publicity with the media playing up the supposed feud between Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio angle which played out on the front pages of two newspapers.

Read More:

New York Times -  December 16, 2016 - By Andy Newman

One-antlered Harlem deer dies immediately after City Hall opts against killing it
New York Daily News - December 17, 2016 - By Lisa L. Colangelo, Jennifer Fermino, Larry McShane 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Brooklyn Park Worker Arrested On Guns, Drugs Charges In Home - Released Without Bail

Cops found weapons, marijuana, pills and fake license plates in Charles McRae’s East Flatbush home Friday.

Police found weapons, marijuana,  cash, pills and more than a hundred fake license plates in seasonal park worker Charles McRae’s East Flatbush home Friday.  Judge ShawnDya L. Simpson released him on his own recognizance.  (image: NYPD) click on image to enlarge.


By Geoffrey Croft

A seasonal City Parks Worker (CPW) with several priors was arrested on gun, drug and a slew of Illegal license plate charges in his East Flatbush home.
Charles McRae, 53 was arrested on December 9th after police found a .9-mm pistol, a .38-caliber pistol, marijuana,  Oxycodone and Codeine pills and 103 forged license plates in his NYCHA apt. on Farragut Road.

Police recovered the .9-mm Beretta in the kitchen next to two loaded magazines as well as a loaded .38 revolver with five rounds in the cylinder according to the criminal complaint.

Marijuana was found in three separate locations in McRae’s home - inside the oven in the kitchen, inside of boxes on the refrigerator and a drawer in the living room.

Police also found one-hundred and two forged temporary NY state license plates, one forged temporary Pennsylvania state license plate from a backpack on a table in the kitchen.

McRae was charged with more than a dozen charges, including two counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon, Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance,  Criminal Possession of marijuana, and 99 counts of  Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument, Posession of Pistol Ammunition and possession of Ammunition Feeding Device.

He was released on his own recognizance - without bail - by Judge ShawnDya L. Simpson.

His next court date is February 8, 2017. 

McRae has been arrested at least five times going back to 1995,  four of them are sealed. His most recent arrest was in November 2012 for marijuana possession.

McRae worked in Brooklyn and has been a seasonal park employee for at least eight years according to a park source.

“He was offered a permanent job, now we know why he didn’t take it, he was too busy.”

Read More:

City Parks worker booked after cops find guns, drugs in his Brooklyn home
New York Daily News - December 10, 2016- By Laura Dimon 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Hate Speech: Queens Playground Repeatedly Targeted November 16th.

On November 29th a gold spray painted swastika was found at the entrance to Reiff Playground seen here after it was partly painted over by park workers.   (Photos: NYC Park Adovocates) Click on images to enlarge.


By Geoffrey Croft

The Maspeth playground discovered defaced with anti-Jewish and anti-police graffiti last week has been targeted three times over the last six weeks, NYC Park Advocates has learned.

Numerous swastikas have been found scrawled in the 1.5 acre playground on 59th Drive & Fresh Pond Road.   

Several pentagram and pentacle symbols were also drawn. Graffiti was found on play equipment with graphic sexual phrases were kids were seen playing, a derogatory phrase towards Jesus Christ were also discovered. 

The vandal (s) have hit play equipment,  the comfort station, handball courts,  basketball court,  benches and slides in three separate incidents - November 29, 16, and October 30th.

The most recent were discovered last Tuesday where two swastikas in gold spay paint were found including one on the sign at the entrance of the playground. 

November 29, 2016. A swastika in black spray paint and MDMA, aka ecstasy,  was illustrated with a face were found written on the ground of the playground.  “F**k the Jew,” written in gold spray paint was next to them.

"F**k the Police" and "shomoney,"  along with a money and heart symbol were found written in gold spray paint on the handball courts.  

Playground equipment slides, and the comfort station door and benches were also defaced with gold spray paint. 

The walls of a nearby factory building were also hit.

On November 15, six swastikas were found scrawled on the handball courts.  Graphic sexual actions naming two males were also seen on the courts. 

On October 30 playground equipment were defaced with graphic sexual suggestions while kids were seen playing on them. 

A large area of the exterior comfort station wall was also defaced including a derogatory phrase towards Jesus Christ along with the phrase,  “Death over Dishonor.”  A bathroom door was also hit.

The surface of the basketball court, the handball courts, and steps were also spray painted.

Park employees canvassed the area and talked with homeowners and businesses in an effort to obtain surveillance footage.

The NYPD said yesterday that there has been a 115 percent increase in bias crimes since the election last month. Hate crimes are up 35 percent for all of 2016 compared to the year prior. 

The most concentrated number of incidents has come in the weeks since November 8. Police reported 43 incidents compared to 20 during the same period of 2015.  Of the 43 attacks, 24 were directed at Jews—three times as many as occurred last November.

 Seven swastikas were found on the handball courts.

October 30th. 

November 29. Graffitti was found on the slide.

November 29th.

A large area of the exterior comfort station wall was also defaced including a derogatory phrase towards Jesus Christ.

(Photos: NYC Park Adovocates) Click on images to enlarge.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Anti-Semitic & Anti-Police Graffiti Found In Queens Playground


Anti-Jewish and anti-police graffiti were found scrawled in a Maspeth playground, NYC Park Advocates has learned.

A swastika in black spray paint and the phrase "F**k the Jew," in gold spray paint  were found written on the ground. 

"F**k the Police" and "shomoney,"  along with a money and heart symbol were found written in gold spray paint on the handball courts.

The offending messages were found in Reiff Playground by a park goer on Wednesday just after midnight. 

Hate graffiti has recently sprung up in several parks across the city perhaps most noteworthy in Adam Yauch Park in Brooklyn Heights named after the former Beastie Boy.

Central Park: Three Charged In Nanny Robbery


By Geoffrey Croft

Three teenagers were charged in yesterday's brazen midday robbery of a nanny in Central Park.

The 50-year-old nanny was pushing a 22-month-old baby in a stroller at 12:40 p.m. in the park near 90th Street and Central Park West when they were approached from behind by three assailants including a 14-year-old girl.

The caretaker and child were coming across the park from speech therepy class on the eastside when one the muggers grabbed the woman’s bag out of the stroller.   

When the victim yelled, "Help me,"  she was pushed from behind and knocked to the ground by the girl. 

The assailants fled westbound out of the park with her purse.  

Police canvased the area and spotted suspects matching the description a few blocks away on Amsterdam and West 85th Street.

When police approached, one of the suspects, John Torres refused to be handcuffed and took off.  He ran to the roof of a building at 222 West 83rd Street a few blocks away and was apprehended by police after a foot chase.

Police recovered the woman’s stolen property including her credit card.

Three suspects were arrested.

John Torres, 19 of Manhattan was charged with Robbery, Possession of Stolen Property and Resisting Arrest.

Pedro Castillo, 19, of the Bronx was also charged with Robbery.

The 14-year-old girl was also charged with Robbery.   She has no priors and was processed as a juvenile.  She lives in the same 3rd Avenue building as Torres. 

The assailants were put in line ups but it appears they were not involved in other robberies in the park. 

Castillo has at least six priors including arrests for stolen property and petit larceny.

Castillo and Torres were arrested together on September 9th for marijuana possession.

Read More:

A Walk In The Park - November 30, 2016 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Central Park: Nanny With Child Mugged By Group Of Teens


By Geoffrey Croft

A nanny pushing a 22-month-old infant in a stroller was mugged inside Central Park today, NYC Park Advocates has learned. 

The 50-year-old Asian woman was pushed from behind, knocked to the ground. The assailants when took her knapsack and fled.

The incident occurred at 12:40 p.m. near 90th Street and Central Park West.  

Police responded and caught the three suspects, two males, 19, and a female, 14,  on Amsterdam and West 88th Street and recovered the stolen goods.

Charges are pending according to police.

The woman and child were not injured.

Police are investigating the possibility that one of the males is wanted in other Central Park robberies.    The suspects have been in the Pct. for hours as the police conduct line ups to see if they are responsible for any other crimes in the area.

This is the second Asian woman robbed in recent days in the park. 

On Sunday a fifty-six-year old upper eastside woman was beaten and robbed in Central Park on her way home from work near 67th Street and Central Park West. The victim was pushed her to the ground, kicked and robbed of her iPhone.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Central Park: Woman Robbed & Beaten By Group Walking Home From Work


By Geoffrey Croft

A fifty-six-year old upper eastside woman was beaten and robbed last night in Central Park returning home from work. 

The victim told police she was walking home through the park after finishing her job on the westside.

She entered the park at 67th Street and Central Park West and walked eastbound on the pedestrian path. She passed four males, Hispanic and black, 15 to 17 sitting on a bench near the carousel about 9:30 p.m. 

Two suspects shoved her and smacked her iPhone out of her hands and picked it up and fled.

Two others pushed her to the ground and kicked her.

The theives took her black Gucci handbag with credit cards along with $500 dollars.

Her injuries included a bump on her head, cuts and bruises to her wrist and knee.

Police tracked the phone to 151st. Street and the Grand Concourse in the Bronx where it was turned off.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

City Buys Final Piece Of Long Promised Bushwick Inlet Park For $ 160 Million

The city has finally purchased the last piece of land needed to complete the long promised Bushwick Inlet Park along the Williamsburg-Greenpoint waterfront. The city announced it will purchase the 11-acre site for $ 160 million.  The 27 acre park was promised more than a decade ago in exchange to allow luxury high-rise housing.   (Image: Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park) Click on image to enlarge

The deal ends years of contention between the community and two administrations.  Much anger was also directed towards Norman Brodsky, the majority owner of the former CitiStorage site, who many park and open space advocates felt was holding the site hostage preventing the purchase from moving forward.

The city has now spent $358 million purchasing land over the past decade on the park plan. 

Brodsky gave credit to the local Council member.

“The deal was made possible because of Steve Levin’s work, period,” Brodsky said.

 “He put the whole deal together."   

"Today is the day we begin turning the full vision of Bushwick Inlet Park into a reality," Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. 

“After an extensive negotiation, we have struck a fair agreement to acquire the CitiStorage site. This is an investment in the future of Brooklyn, and in the children, longtime residents and newcomers in this community,” he said.

Read More:

City makes final land buy in long-delayed Brooklyn waterfront park
New York Post - November 22, 2016 - By Rich Calder  

New York Daily News - November 22, 2016 -  By Erin Durkin

A Walk In The Park - July 11, 2016 

A Walk In the Park - June 13, 2012 

A Walk In the Park - May 18, 2012 

A Walk In the Park - July 21, 2011 

Monday, November 21, 2016

High Line Assault


By Geoffrey Croft

A  good Samaritan was punched in the face yesterday afternoon on the High Line,  NYC Park Advocates has learned.  

A group of teens were up on the elevated park near 28th Street at 4:20pm.  when a park goer asked one of the teens if they needed help.

That’s when one of them turned around and suddenly hit him in the face.

The victim, a 40-year-old caucasian male,  suffered a bloody nose and cut on his hand.

The teens fled.

The assailant is described as a black male approximately 16-years-old and wearing a grey hoodie.

NYPD responded to the scene. 

Another Arrest In Illegal Bike Rental Fight In Central Park


By Geoffrey Croft

Another fight and another arrest involving the prolific illegal bike rental trade in Columbus Circle in Central Park over the weekend, NYC Park Advocates has learned. 

On Saturday two illegal bike venders began fighting, throwing fists after one accused the other of stealing a customer.

One threatened the other one with a knife and motioned into his coat to indicate he had a weapon and said he was going to stab him. 

At one point he picked up a metal pipe and threatened the man.

NYPD arrested Demba Diallo, 36,  of W. 141st St. and charged with Menacing and Disorderly Conduct.

Diallo was arrested in Central Park in July after he threw a rock at a person holding a camera.

He was charged with Criminal Mischief in that incident.

He was also arrested for subway fare evasion in the Bronx in September.