Trouble And Intolerance: Voices From Brooklyn Bridge Park

In an article titled “In Brooklyn Bridge Park Conflict, Neighbors See Trouble. Players See Intolerance,” the Times‘ Sarah Maslin Nir reports from our neighborhood and Brooklyn Bridge Park, talking to park users and neighborhood representatives about the issues that have arisen in recent weeks.

“Sometimes I try and avoid going on Joralemon,” said Aaliyah Johnson, 17, who is black and travels from Flatbush to play basketball. “It’s like they look at you, move their kids over like you’re going to do something, and clutch on to their purse. Your doing that — it just makes us not feel welcome. We just came here to play basketball.”

“The park planners have not done a good job at finding ways for people to get into the park and out of the park,” [Peter] Bray said.

Nir also reports that Brooklyn Bridge Park has received requests to replace the basketball courts with tennis courts, something that park president Regina Myer has ruled out.

“…getting rid of some of the most popular basketball courts in the city is decidedly not the solution,” she added, “and would fly in the face of everything this park stands for.”

Read the full story in the New York Times.

Update: The article got the attention of MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, who tweeted it to his more than a half million followers, giving rise to a whole other comment section on this topic (and where I took the chance to shamelessly plug BHB).


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  • MaryT

    Ah, jeez. It is NOT black v. white. It is loud, rude and, sometimes, menacing behaviors – which are not “Brooklyn culture”. Who’d tolerate that? And I had a feeling the tennis courts thing would crop up. It’s not about basketball. It’s about entering, exiting and crowd control. Shame on you, Regina. You and the board should take residents seriously as well. Thank goodness the cops are there.


    This article paints BH as a racist enclave. It’s a reminder that even the New York Times can get a story horribly wrong. Responsible journalism is long dead.

  • Concerned

    I actually believe the NY Times did an ok job on this article. It shows different sides to the story. Unfortunately, the reporter failed to discuss some more in-depth examples of gang activity.
    The quote that really sticks out to me is: “Courtside fisticuffs, they say, are just a result of teenagers being teenagers — and isn’t that what happens in parks?”
    The answer to that question is NO! Violence should not be tolerated anywhere. And what is even worse is this violent attitude is then taken up Joralemon street into our neighborhood. It is NOT ok to assault people. Assaulting people is NOT teenagers being teenagers. And our neighborhood shouldn’t have to deal with this. It does not matter if the fist is a black fist or a white fist. NO FISTS!!!!
    If you want to play basketball at these courts, act civilly at the park and outside of the park. If not, go somewhere else.

  • petercow

    FYI, this past Saturday evening, I was walking up Henry, and texting someone, and right in front of the Episcopalian church, a gang of 4 kids,about 16 yrs old. came running south, and one of them tried to grab my cell phone out of my hand.

    They didn’t succeed, and with a laugh, kept running south, toward Pierrepont.

    It all happened in like 3 seconds. I started to dial 911, when as it happened, I saw a police car coming southbound on Henry. I flagged them down, and we spent about 30 minutes canvassing the neighborhood, trying to find them – no luck.

  • petercow

    Myers is the classic definition of a “limousine liberal”.

  • Concerned

    Those are just kids having fun. YOU RACIST!!! And the cops looking for them. RACIST!!!
    Were you “clutching” your phone away from them? RACIST!!!
    Man, this is fun. I’m going to incorporate this into my life.
    Boss: “Your work is late.”
    Me: “YOU RACIST!!!”

    Wife/Husband: “Can you pay these bills?”
    Me: “YOU RACIST!!!”

    Doctor: “You really need to get some exercise.”
    Me: “Oh, because you did better on racist standardized tests and got into racist medical school where there are a bunch of asians and white people, you think you can tell me I need some exercise. You know what that is?”
    Doctor: “Let me guess. RACIST?”
    ME: “You said it!!!”

  • Clinton

    Walking home from the subway after work on Joralemon a few weeks ago, teenagers were running in and out of the street THROWING ROCKS at each other – damaging parked cars and generally terrorizing pedestrians.

  • ColumbiaHeightster

    Incredibly inappropriate.

  • StudioBrooklyn

    If a political system permits only liberals of the limousine variety to hold office, where exactly is the vein and what exactly is in the injection used to treat the disease?

  • ColumbiaHeightster

    Point of clarification. My “Incredibly inappropriate” comment was in response to a since deleted post (which, it turns out, was in fact inappropriate enough to be deleted), and NOT in response to petercrow.

  • petercow

    Myers is not an elected official.

  • Andrew Porter

    I think the NYT article is quite fair. A telling point: someone actually brought a gun to the park, then packed it so that it fell out onto the street. Who brings a gun to a park? And who packs it for easy access while in that park?

    I totally agree on your fists comments. I never, ever, thought of fighting when I visited parks when I was a kid. If kids want to fight and kill each other, they should do it where they live.

  • getrid

    Get. Rid. Of. The. Goddamned. Basketball. Courts.

    Problem solved.

  • Bornhere

    Some sort of uproar is a nightly event on Joralemon. Nightly. What is going on is not a “times change” sort of evolution; what’s happening is a reflection of the selfishness and greed on the part of BPC, who cared nothing about the effect of BPP on the neighborhood, in general, or its insanely chosen access routes, specifically. And had the park been opened as … a park … I do believe the negative ramifications would have been fewer. BPP makes Cadman look almost Edenic.

  • KXrVrii1

    Back in January I saw some teenagers throwing discarded christmas trees at each other, which then hit cars! This was also on Joralemon.

    A couple of weeks ago, I was running up the Columbia Heights hill from Old Fulton, was about to go by two kids with basketballs when one of them lunged at me, got his face a couple of inches from mine and screamed. They then ran off laughing.

    I feel bad that good kids like Aaliyah notice some apprehension, but unfortunately there is a reason for some of it.

  • StudioBrooklyn

    Fair enough, but I didn’t say anything about “elected”.

  • Corey Lewandowski

    Here’s a simpler solution – Trump style.
    Build a Wall!
    Wall off the crossing at Joralemon.
    Sell brick sponsorships to pay for the wall.
    Create a neighborhood garden in that new enclave.

  • Jorale-man

    Yes, the way it’s presented it suggests that the kid was being picked on for accidentally dropping a personal item. A gun – and flying fists – don’t belong in the park under any circumstance. I’m sure the majority of kids that use the courts aren’t looking for trouble but a few bad apples can spoil it for the rest.

  • rid

    You’re joking, but that’s going to have to happen.

  • Teresa

    It’s obviously terrible that that happened to you, but similar crimes have happened or been attempted in the neighborhood for years, long before the Park opened.

  • ColumbiaHeightster

    That’s a good point. I share the sentiment that it stinks that this happened to you, but what’s the correlation between this and the park, particularly if you were not on Joralemon?

  • Arch Stanton

    Maybe then you would have a place to burn a cross.

  • Arch Stanton

    As I’ve said before. Make everyone using the Pier 2 facilities show ID and sign in.

  • getrid

    right – because there’s no correlation between the fistfights and gunplay and the courts. it’s the 5 year olds playing soccer on pier 5 who are the problem. or maybe it’s the folks taking in the gardens on pier 6? maybe the kids using the swings?

  • petercow

    I and the cops agree, it was likely kids coming from the park.

    Do I know that for sure, no?

    They may have been on their way to/from Bible study.

  • Concerned

    That escalated quickly…

  • Concerned

    This would work. And would probably require much less police.

  • Mark

    I agree. NYTimes undoubtedly casts the neighborhood as racist just in the context of the story, not through any presentation of facts or quotes. For example, “It [the park] has become the emerald trim of a jewel-box neighborhood of handsome brownstones” and “residents in the well-off neighborhood, which is mostly white…complain that their quaint streets.” I am very sorry that the Times has done this & hope that other Brooklynites recognize that the characterization is not representative of Brooklyn Heights. Disappointing, but “responsible journalism” is an oxymoron.

  • Arch Stanton

    I never said there is “no correlation between the fistfights and gunplay and the courts”. But it would be totally interpreted as racism if the courts were removed. There are solutions that allow the enjoyment of one of the most popular sports and eliminate the few troublemakers causing all the grief.

  • Sen. Bob Forehead

    Yes, it’s true these crimes have happened before the park opened. But now they are happening with greater frequency and severity than in the past, including the ten years before you moved here. There was never any regular rampaging up and down Joraleman, that’s new and directly attributable to the park, and specifically to the B-ball courts.