You might have thought that the wonderful utopia of Sheepshead Bay was somehow free of the stop-and-frisk controversies igniting throughout New York City. You’d be wrong. New statistics released this morning by the NYPD show that, much like in the rest of the five boroughs, officers from the 61st Precinct are stopping and frisking black men and women at a rate that’s disproportionate to the size of the population.
The NYPD surprised observers this morning by releasing the 2011 figures in a detailed report. The report shows the total number of stops per precinct, the top suspected crime accounting for the stops, and the race of the persons stopped compared to their percentage of the precinct’s population using 2010 census numbers.
Although the vast majority of stops in the 61st Precinct were of white residents, at 49.4 percent, the number comes up short when compared to the number of white residents living in the neighborhood – 72.8 percent.
Conversely, black residents comprise only 3.4 percent of the precinct’s population, yet they accounted for 28.5 percent of the stops. Likewise, Hispanics accounted for 18.8 percent of stop-and-frisks in an around Sheepshead Bay, and yet they only make up 8.3 percent of the neighborhood’s population.
And although they’re the second-largest demographic in the area, at 15.5 percent, Asians were largely left alone by cops. Three-point-three percent of people stopped-and-frisked were Asian.
Read the report and more analysis of the local stop-and-frisk numbers.
At their June 27 rally, mosque opponents targeted politicians for their silence on the issue. Now they respond.
Brooklyn Paper has a pair of updates on the mosque issue, fueled by the deluge of comments they received from their initial report.
First up, they got in touch with most of the politicians with districts located near the mosque, getting their reading of the situation. The verdict? Freedom of worship is a constitutional right, and any attempt to stop the mosque from being built is an invasion of that liberty.
Keep reading to find out what the local politicians had to say, my thoughts on it, and what other developments have emerged surrounding the planned Sheepshead Bay mosque.
We just heard from a resident of East 28th Street off of Voorhies Avenue that NYPD investigators interviewed neighbors about the alleged bomb threat.
The reader told us that police knocked on his door after 11 p.m. They asked questions about the rally and the identity of the man who told Brooklyn Paper’s Tom Tracy that he would bomb the mosque if it were built. The reader was asked if he witnessed the incident or knew who the man was. They also asked who organized the rally, who spoke, and what the purpose was.
To our knowledge, NYPD investigators have still not found the man.
Traditionally, journalists are expected to protect their sources and not be involved in a story. Most states have laws that protect journalists from revealing anonymous sources, and courts cannot compel reporters to disclose their identity.
Those laws exist to ensure the media is a safe way for whistle-blowers and informants to disclose information without fear of retribution. This case is obviously different, but journalism purists would say revealing a source under any circumstance creates a slippery slope and undermines the trust potential tipsters may have.
Do you think Tom Tracy should help NYPD investigators identify the man that allegedly made threats?
The site of the proposed mosque at 2812/2814 Voorhies Avenue
(UPDATE [12:18 p.m.]: NYPD investigators have interviewed neighbors about the alleged bomb threat.)
The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY) is calling for the FBI and local law enforcement agencies to investigate a man who said he would bomb the Voorhies Avenue mosque if the proposal moved forward.
The man made his comments to Brooklyn Paper reporter Tom Tracy at Sunday’s anti-mosque rally, organized by Bay People, Inc. Here’s the relevant excerpt from Brooklyn Paper:
“If they build a mosque there, I’m going to bomb the mosque,” said one outraged resident who lives across the street from the proposed house of worship between East 28th and East 29th streets on Voorhies Avenue. The resident, who refused to give his name, identified himself as a former Israeli soldier who had lived on Voorhies Avenue for eight years.
“I will give them a lot of trouble,” he added. “They’re not going to stay here alive.”
According to a press release, CAIR-NY has reached out to the FBI, the New York Police Department (NYPD), New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and the Brooklyn Borough President’s office about the threat. The group says it parallels a mosque in Jacksonville, Fla., that was recently the target of a bomb attack, as well as an incident in which a Houston radio host called for the bombing of a proposed mosque and community center in New York City.
Keep reading to see how local Muslim-Americans are responding.
The organization seeking to halt the development of the proposed Voorhies Avenue mosque held a rally Sunday afternoon to publicize the predicted quality-of-life issues. But prejudiced and fearful statements from attendees revealed a rift in the group that could be undermining its credibility.
Bay People, Inc., organized the rally to convey a clear message: parking, traffic and noise complaints are at the heart of their opposition to the mosque. Speakers came to the sun-drenched podium, many with prepared statements designed to reinforce their defense that they’re not bigots.
“This demonstration is not anti-Muslim,” said one speaker who declined to give his name to Sheepshead Bites. “We’re here to demonstrate against this specific project … this is about our quality of life. It’s about our peace and quiet.”
Keep reading about the protest’s message, and how some say it’s being undermined by bigots.
An interfaith group held a “Peace Walk” in Sheepshead Bay on Thursday, ending at the site of the controversial Voorhies Avenue mosque as a sign of unity with organizers’ right to build. But the walk drew dozens of critics, who hissed and jeered at participants, braiding zoning objections with bigoted rhetoric.
Sheepshead Bites was on the scene, capturing video and notes during the event. To this point, we’ve held off publishing our report, preferring to digest the happening to develop a more nuanced depiction. There was more than enough mainstream media chronicling the event and turning out predictable narratives hours later.
In a nutshell, the situation is thus: Though the Park Slope-based group behind the walk said they were only there to promote harmony, they were depicted by opponents as carpetbaggers intruding on a community issue. Still, with about 150 Muslim families in the area looking to exercise their right to pray and teach peaceful, moderate Islamic values, a local mosque is a prerequisite for a more comfortable life. But before that can become a reality, mosque organizers are contending with the specter of Islamic fundamentalism, brought upon by the mosque’s sponsor, the Muslim American Society. Compounding the problem, some critics have developed a coherent zoning argument around parking, noise and traffic issues. But, at Thursday’s counter-demonstration, that faction of the opposition was marginalized by a group spouting bigoted and hateful remarks; they even shouted and cursed at a 15-year-old American-born Muslim girl passing by.
For video and further explanation, read on after the jump.
Continue Reading »
2812 Voorhies Avenue - the site of the proposed mosque
Advocates for the Sheepshead Bay mosque are hosting a Park Slope group’s annual walk for peace in our neighborhood to demonstrate support for the proposed religious facility.
The Muslim Consultative Network advocates strengthening and unifying the New York City Muslim community. They’ll be holding their 7th Annual Children of Abraham Interfaith Peace Walk on Thursday, June 10th, at 4 p.m. The interfaith march will visit other area religious institutions, including St. Mark Catholic Church and United Methodist Church of Sheepshead Bay. It will kick off at Ocean Avenue and Avenue Z, down to Emmons Avenue, over to Bedford Avenue, then up to the proposed mosque’s site at 2812 Voorhies Avenue.
Organizers of the march are portraying it as a symbol of interfaith solidarity against intolerance.
“We’ll be supporting the emergence of this new faith community while deepening our interfaith connections and spreading the message that here in Brooklyn people from different walks of life experience mutual respect and friendship,” the press release states.
On their website, they write that “participation will be especially meaningful since some residents are trying to prevention the construction of a mosque in that community. Please join us to show support for an inclusive community.”
Read about the opposition’s response to the Peace Walk
Courtesy of NJ.com
The Russian community of Southern Brooklyn is getting extra attention to make sure its residents fill out their 2010 census forms.
Approximately 90 Census Questionnaire Assistance Centers have opened in the area, including at the Jewish Community House of Bensonhurst. The centers are staffed with a census employee three days a week to help people fill out the forms
In addition to the centers, census workers are kicking off door-to-door efforts, focusing heavily on Brighton Beach. During the last census count, Brighton Beach, and its large Russian population were considered “hard to count” because many residents did not return their census forms.
Valeriy Savinkin, a U.S. Census Bureau partnership specialist and liaison to the Russian-speaking community, credits the low return rate to the feelings of skepticism of the government held by many Russian immigrants in the area. Eastern Europeans, especially those that lived through the Soviet era, didn’t trust or rely on the government back in Russia and have carried over those feelings for the American government, according to Savinkin.
Find out what’s being done to increase Census return rates
Readers say portions of the flier prove that it's fake
If you haven’t been paying attention to the debate raging on Thursday’s post, “In Sheepshead Bay Mosque Debate, Fliers Go ‘Round,” many readers raised questions about the flier’s authenticity. They said the poor wording is something a mosque supporter would never let get around the neighborhood, and that many of the “mistakes” are made to scare community members into opposing its construction.
Well, we heard from Ibrahim Anse, a board member and assistant project manager behind the mosque. He wrote:
We, as sheepshead bay community center and mosque board, did not issue, write, circulate, niether think of making a flier and disterbute it in the area at all. And as, one of the board memebers, I deannaounce it as a whole. We have a cause, and we believe in it, serving the community not raising issues or making problems.
Similarly, a member of the mosque’s opposition has also contacted me expressing doubt that it was real. He suggested a misguided person on their side might have thought it would help, and he has asked BayPeople.org to consider removing it from their website.