Open Thread Wednesday

What’s on your mind? Comment away!

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  • StudioBrooklyn

    South skies rainbow yesterday

  • bklyn84

    BQX news…
    “The Mayor’s Brooklyn-Queens Streetcar Plan Gets a Czar”
    by Justin Davidson, New York Magazine, July 15, 2016

  • tracedoris

    Dear all–

    We appreciate the open thread Weds! We are writing in response to the issue of the Brooklyn Bridge Park basketball courts and safety on Joralemon street.

    We see that some here balk at the suggestion that there are racial implications to the conversation. We have not been surprised to see some deny that there are such elements at play, claiming that the conversation would be going exactly the same way if the people in question—the groups of teenagers purportedly invading our neighborhood and threatening our safety—were white. But how could that be so? If a white kid punched a white man in the head on Joralemon Street that would make it to the police blotter but would it be considered newsworthy?

    It is extremely dangerous to claim that there are no racial questions at stake in this conversation, and to isolate it from the discourse nationally over race in America. It is in fact precisely such a stance—at once engaging in prejudicial language and denying that such positions have racial implications—that allows the continuance of systemic racism in this country. Saying that “it would be the same if they were white” is like saying “if my aunt had balls”: it is a logical impossibility.

    There are longstanding historical reasons for the fact that these so-called outsiders are black, (we happen to live in a neighborhood that conducted the Underground Railroad, helping the enslaved secure freedom) and denying those reasons, especially at this national moment, can only have the effect of perpetuating them. How can there be no racial, or socio-economic, implications, to what the New York Times claims is the most frequent suggestion from BH residents for what might replace the basketball courts: ie, tennis courts? It couldn’t be more black and white.

    We understand that from the perspective of every resident who is worried about this issue, they are simply looking out for their own and their family’s personal safety. But horrendous things have been happening in this country in the name of personal safety. Brooklyn Heights is a part of a city and people who choose to live in cities don’t live in gated communities. And so we ask, in what way does anyone have any more of a right to be on these streets than anyone else?

    Additionally, there are entire populations of people who live with the threat and reality of violence every day because of deeply ingrained national prejudices and problems. Others have benefited from much more so-called personal safety because they can afford to live in certain zip codes. But we shouldn’t mistake that historical imbalance for the suggestion that there are those who deserve to be more safe than others.

    This is not to say that residents should not do what they need to do for themselves and their families. Rather, that these are very complex questions that should be kept in mind when making public statements and calling for public policies. As we have seen all too much recently, even something so seemingly simple and unimpeachable as defending one’s personal safety can mask a host of other issues, and we would do well to always think about the implications of what we are demanding.

    The conversation about Joralemon Street mirrors national conversations about race, immigration, and the state of America. Calls to keep out certain groups of people from certain geographies because of fear of what they might do sound eerily like calls to build a wall, or make us great again. They also sound like Jim Crow laws whose hallmark were to offer white people separate and better parks paid for by everyone’s taxes.
    Respectfully yours from your neighbors,
    Emma and Tracy

  • StudioBrooklyn

    Dear Emma and Tracy,

    Thank you for your thoughtful remarks. I’m not sure how closely you’ve been following the conversation on this blog, but I feel the vast majority (something like 99%) of our neighbors who comment here showing concern about community safety (especially with respect to Joralemon Street) are able to simultaneously acknowledge the correlation between race and crime (via poverty caused by a history of systemic and other forms of racism), and also voice level-headed concerns about the culture of safety and considerateness that has been present in this neighborhood for a long time.

    We have made efforts to vocally distinguish ourselves from those who prejudge based on skin color and other arbitrary characteristics. The majority of us are revolted by the sentiments that permeate the GOP’s adopted rhetoric (to borrow your example) about race and immigration, and have been careful to identify ways in which the patterns through which we comprehend and deal with local issues absolutely do not mirror that rhetoric. Granted, “racism” can mean many different things in different contexts, and I think most of us would be ready to acknowledge the privilege and biases we bring to the conversation.

    My take-away is that we might be looking at a problem with no perfect solution, or worse, a Hobbesian choice between some concept of “us” and “them” in which we emerge either with a drastically different neighborhood (in a bad way) or looking to the rest of the world like horrible distortions of who we really are. Both of those outcomes seems tragic to me. The community’s frustration over the lack of a holistically beneficial solution is palpable in these comments threads. But if there’s one thing I hope gets through to the world looking on, it’s that Brooklyn Heights residents are among the most accepting and friendly inhabitants of this city, ready to share our beautiful views and streets with any visitors [who aren’t going to, you know, deliberately injure someone or steal their stuff].

    We all come from different backgrounds; some were born and raised in this neighborhood, others like myself came here only after living in much more dangerous and impoverished areas, so we all have different reasons for loving this beautiful and relatively safe place. We’ve searched our own souls, I hope that while we’ve opened up everyone else will see what we see.


    An artist who lives here with his family

  • Remsen Street Dweller

    You say,”If a white kid punched a white man in the head on Joralemon Street that would make it to the police blotter but would it be considered newsworthy?”

    I say that yes if anyone was punching someone for no reason at all, it would be newsworthy. I grew up in NYC when it was a dangerous place to be. When I lived in the Village, I was punched by a white guy for no reason. Also, when I worked in Jersey City, I was punched in the head by a black woman as I was crossing the street. In both situations,, I called the police and was upset by the incident.

    Those kids on Joralemon Street were playing the knockout “game.” Some game — you can easily be killed with a punch like that man received on Joralemon Street.

    I do not agree with your callousness to that and the other incidents that have occurred.

  • Michael

    You are conflating the discussion about safety with some preconceived notion of racial biases, which is inaccurate/flawed/off topic. Seven paragraphs? Really?

  • bklyn84

    As someone who has lived east of Court street for more than 30 years I’ve always remembered your disgusting 2015 remark about my neighborhood.

    From “Open Thread Wednesday, July 29, 2015″

    I emailed them to confirm ~Dos Toros is coming to Court b/w Livingston & Joralemon {~;”

    “Googling it wasn’t too hard. Too bad Court Street btwn Montague and Atlantic is like an open sewer.”

    Question for you StudioBrooklyn: Is it hard to talk out of both sides of your mouth at the same time?

  • StudioBrooklyn

    I’m sorry that offended you. I was talking about the literal amount of trash on the sidewalk though, so it seems you misinterpreted my remark.

  • bklyn84

    You don’t make it over to our neighborhood very often then because you’d see the DOE Fund workers are out every day of the year. I was amazed a couple of weeks ago when you posted a photo on the fence on State street. You must have gotten lost.

  • StudioBrooklyn

    It seems your mind is made up. I’m just going to wish you a pleasant Wednesday.

  • publicsafety

    Dear Emma and Tracy,

    Go $#%^ yourselves.

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

    – The un-PC

  • StudioBrooklyn

    I’ll also grant you that “open sewer” was hyperbolic. Hope that helps. ;)

  • neighboronhicks

    you are a disgusting human, if you can be called a human.

  • neighboronhicks

    beautifully said. wholeheartedly agreed.

  • DIBS

    The mere fact that the DOE Fund workers are required to keep it clean spaks volumes. I suspect the reason for it though is the transient workers in the neighborhood. I could expand on that but I won’t.

  • Safety1st

    The commentary on this thread often comes with strong bias from the commentor. But can we take a moment and discuss that one of the root cause of this doesn’t have to be considered racially driven. The city built an all-star park that attracts everybody from all the boroughs. However, they built poor infrastructure with only 2 real access points for the park: joralemon/atlantic and the squib bridge. The squib bridge has been out of service, which means joralemon is the MAIN access point of the park. We’re dealing with a neighborhood that had significantly less traffic is now dealling with a crowd control issue on a daily basis. If a large even occurs in any other park there is an increase in crowd control efforts (mainly more police). Crowds bring conflict. I saw two “white” dads in the park screaming at each other recently because of something their kids did to each other in an overly crowded water park. I saw a car drive “UP” joralomen from furman the wrong way because there was poor signage. The local precinct has only recently started to make an effort to control the crowds in this neighborhood, but unfortunately already too many incidents have occurred. So the question I have is, are they doing enough? Is there anything else that can be done to deal with crowds.

  • Teresa

    Ditto what neighboronhicks said. Thank you for such a thoughtful, considered response to a troubling and complex situation.

  • Concerned

    This post makes me sad. Seriously, very sad.
    “If a white kid punched a white man in the head on Joralemon Street that would make it to the police blotter but would it be considered newsworthy?”
    The overwhelming answer is “YES!!!!!” We just want SAFETY. No one cares what color a fist is coming at our face. We just want NO fists coming at our faces. Respectfully, if you can’t get past this point, where can we go in our conversation?

  • Claude Scales

    Please confine your comments to reasoned argument; not insults.

  • Claude Scales

    See my response to “public safety” above.

  • Concerned

    Vendetta!!! Usually reserved for Gothamist and other lesser websites….
    I blame BBP and the Pier 2 basketball courts.

  • Concerned


  • Michael

    This is wrong headed nonsense. I understand you feel strongly, for what I cannot surmise. The dialogue is about safety, not race.

  • lauren

    Interesting mention about a former time capsule at Cranberry and Henry! (I hadn’t heard this before, but maybe others have…)

  • redlola

    i love the obsessive focus in this post on the national discourse. as if racial issues now only matter cause they are in the spotlight. for these people to speak on any of our hearts or mindsets without knowing the first thing about us, is the very definition of prejudice. my black husband is disgusted at the unnecessary bullshit that has been happening here. the knockout game is not needed to enjoy the basketball courts.acting like this should get a pass is the worst kind of limousine liberal racism. it says that ppl of color deserve a pass on anti-social behavior cause they can’t do better. seriously? i would bet a grip that no matter how poor you assume they are or how bad the environment you assume they come from is (implicitly racist assumptions by the way) at least 75% of the kids who engaged in bullshit behavior have a parent, grandparent, aunt, sibling someone who has taught them better and expects better. stop acting like all these kids are les miserables. if we set no expectations for behavior, what is the motivation? the worst part is by reinforcing these stereotypes that black kids are all so fucked up all they can do is damage makes it harder for my biracial (black in society’s eyes) kid. that is a complex concept that only people who live in a racial reality understand. peeking in fhe liberal limousine window and throwing around empty assumptions and platitude is frankly a waste of internet space.

  • Jorale-man

    I can see that these writers are trying to make a nuanced point here, which is appreciated. I do think it still comes down to a basic issue for the majority of Heights resident: we take care of our neighborhood and don’t want to see our hard work destroyed by ruffians on their way to and from the park.

    I’ve seen more trash and even the smell of urine (a recent first), on Joralemon this summer. That combined with the incidents of violence are a problem. If it originates with people who use the basketball courts, then those people should be dealt with by law enforcement. Let’s keep this on the radar of local elected officials and hopefully the problem can be properly managed.

  • Claude Scales

    A gentle reminder of this, from “Lifehacker’s guide to weblog comments”: “Chances are something someone says in a comment or post is going to irk you. Still, personal attacks are unacceptable, useless and can quickly degrade a discussion to a third grade “Yo Mama” flamefest. Resist the urge, and be respectful and objective at all times.”

  • StudioBrooklyn

    Not to invalidate anything else you said, but I just want to point out that some urine smells may be attributable to our fuzzier friends, whose physiognomy prevents them from using conventional toilets. I hope that’s not a racist thing to say.

  • Jorale-man

    I wondered about that. I don’t have a nose for the different varietals so it’s entirely possible that’s what I’ve detected…

  • StudioBrooklyn

    Yes, I was trying to be very careful about wording there… ;)