Sara Bennett, who lives in the predominantly White neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York’s Park Slope area, reportedly witnessed a New York City policeman yell over the loudspeaker of his cruiser to a group of strolling Black youths, “Get out of the neighborhood!” states DNA Info New York.
According to Bennett, the alleged incident occurred on the afternoon of September 22 at about 2:45 p.m., which is typically school dismissal time. Bennett reported what she had witnessed at a 78th Precinct Community Council meeting on Tuesday night, telling forum attendees that there were about six or so young male teens who were trailed by a cruiser with a flashing dome light but sans a siren.
Suddenly and without provocation, the teens — who were not involved in any kind of mischief — were ordered by the officers to remove themselves from the area. Bennett, who was apparently taken aback by the unprovoked form of harassment said, “I was really really upset and disturbed, not by the kids, but by the way the police were yelling at them to get out of the neighborhood,” she expressed at the meeting.
The precinct’s commanding officer Capt. Frank DiGiacomo told attendees how the incident was not brought to his attention. Seemingly defending his officer’s actions, DiGiacomo explained that officers often attempt to move large groups of strolling youth due to the history of disturbances at a nearby mall caused by such groupings.
“We’ve had large fights…and things stemming over to Barclays Center and things stemming over to robberies and assaults,” DiGiacomo said. “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.”
After listening to DiGiacomo’s response, Bennett, who is a former criminal defense lawyer, pointed out that the mall is not close to where the incident she witnessed took place. As a matter of fact, Bennett stated that the mall in question is at least a mile away from her neighborhood.
DiGiacomo reportedly responded to Bennett with the following excuse, “Most of the crimes that happen in our command are from outside people committing the crimes.” He added, “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.”
So walking while young and Black in predominantly White areas is still a crime.