The NYPD's shameful message to black teens: "Get out of the neighborhood"

Witnesses allege that a group of black teens walking through Park Slope were told to leave the neighborhood

Published October 1, 2014 5:12PM (EDT)


According to witness reports, on Sept. 22 at 2:45 p.m., NYPD officers in a patrol car trailed a group of black teenagers walking through Park Slope, Brooklyn and told them via loudspeakers to "get out of the neighborhood."

Most appallingly: the NYPD isn't even trying to apologize. At a 78th Precinct Community Council meeting on Tuesday evening, Commanding Officer Capt. Frank DiGiacomo said he wasn't aware of the incident but that it did sound like something they would do.

"We've had large fights... and things stemming over to Barclays Center and things stemming over to robberies and assaults," he said of incidents at the Atlantic Center Mall. "When one or two are hanging out, it's never a problem, but when we have large groups of kids together and we don't ask them to move or go somewhere else, they become a larger group, and that's when we get assaults."

As Sara Bennett, a witness and former criminal defense lawyer, pointed out, the location of the incident (Ninth Street and Seventh Avenue) isn't anywhere close to the mall.

DiGiacomo continued: "Most of the crimes that happen in our command are from outside people committing the crimes... If [teens] are not playing basketball, you're not playing soccer, you're not doing something productive in the neighborhood, I can see [officers] moving them."

With that statement, DiGiacomo exhibits loathsome bias, alleging that these teens must have been outsiders only because of their race. And that congregations of black teens must be playing a sport in order to be permitted to hang out anywhere.

According to New York law, the teens were not breaking any laws by walking through the neighborhood (obviously), other than, potentially, the unstated social crime of "walking while black."

By Joanna Rothkopf

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Bias Nypd Park Slope Race