Anglers aren’t the only ones baiting guppies at the Canarsie Pier.
Gang members were, too, as they fished for new recruits, police were stunned to learn recently.
Two mini-gang conclaves, the largest being about 500 according to some estimates, were seen at the Canarsie Pier over Memorial Day weekend, cops said this week.
The onslaught of youths congregating and flashing gang colors reportedly put residents living along Rockaway Parkway in a panic, with at least one resident telling the 69th Precinct Community Council that some youths were hanging out in his alleyway as they made their way to the pier.
“There was a complete lack of control,” the resident, who wished not to be named, told Captain Milt Marmara, the new leader of the 69th Precinct during last week’s council meeting. “It was getting so bad that some of them [gang members] nearly came into my home. I almost sicced my dog on them to get them off my property.”
While the resident said he saw “5000” youths flashing gang colors going to the Canarsie Pier, Marmara said the actual number was far less.
“By my count it was about 500 people,” said Marmara, who described the Saturday evening incident as a “gang initiation.”
Officials said that cops responded to the pier May 24 after a report of shots fired.
Once they saw the small army of young males in their late teens and early twenties – who were reportedly either led or celebrating with known neighborhood Blood members — cops called for a Level 1 mobilization, which sent cops from area precincts, as well as an NYPD aviation unit, to the area.
Cops shut down the pier and dispersed the crowd, arresting one of the young men with disorderly conduct.
A cop was injured as he tried to arrest the rowdy teen, Marmara said. No civilian injuries were reported by the alleged shooting or the crowd of people on the pier.
Two days later, on Memorial Day, another large crowd of youths reportedly sporting Crips colors were stopped before they could go down to the pier. At least 21 people were charged with disorderly conduct and other crimes, Marmara said. Most of the teens, he explained, were from Sheepshead Bay and other areas, he said.
“We got all of them in one sweep,” he said. “From what I’ve been told, nothing like this has happened at the pier before. So on Saturday we weren’t 100 percent prepared to handle it when it happened.”
But that changed Tuesday when Marmara called up both the U.S. Parks Police and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. The three units are beginning to discuss strategies on how to handle similar incidents at the pier when the crop up again.
The Captain explained while his cops will continue to remain vigilant, the NYPD can’t arrest even the most reputed gang members until they do something criminal.
“In the USA you’re allowed to wear red or blue T-shirts, so we can’t simply arrest people for what they’re wearing,” Marmara said. “We have to go on their behavior.”
“We’re very serious on about stopping gang activity in the neighborhood, but we have to go by the boundaries of the law.”
The week before cops were called to the Canarsie Pier, Gateway National Recreation Area announced that the pier would be closed to cars from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m. daily. The pier will also be closed to pedestrians from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m.
The new measure was put in place to allow maintenance crews free access to clean the pier as well as curb complaints of illicit activities at the pier and complaints that the neighborhood launch is being used “by transients who sleep in their cars for days or even weeks,” according to a statement the Gateway National Recreation Area.
At a recent Community Board 18 meeting, residents challenged Gateway’s reasoning. Some board members said that there have been no crime complaints at the pier of late.