Ridgites march against the scourge of drugs

for The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Members of Bay Ridge’s Muslim community came together last Saturday to highlight a growing scourge in the neighborhood — an epidemic of drug overdoses.

More than 60 people gathered at Leif Ericson Park and walked to the Islamic Center of Bay Ridge in remembrance of nine local youths who died from opiate overdoses in the past year.

“The number of deaths from drug overdoses has escalated in our community since 2001, with one of nine youths taking drugs. If our kids are destroyed then everything is destroyed,” said Dr. Husam Rimawi, a local physician.

Bay Ridge has the third-highest concentration of drug overdoses in the city, and the problem is especially acute among Arab and Muslim youth, who are often too ashamed to admit addiction and seek help.

“We have to stop placing a stigma on these young men and women. Let’s start taking preventive measures,” said José Solis, a Muslim Latino who lost his cousin to a drug overdose earlier this year. “Two months ago, I lost my own flesh and blood. I lost my cousin. He had nobody to turn to. A lot of us share the same story. This is a common occurrence. Somebody help him.”

The imam of the Islamic Center of Bay Ridge, Dr. Mohammed Elbar marched alongside Khader El-Ya-Teem, pastor of the Salam Arabic Lutheran Church, and local elected officials also joined the demonstration.

State Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge) offered no-questions-asked assistance to those seeking help.

“The only way to stop it is to say something. Heroin is killing our kids. My office is on 74th Street and Fifth Avenue. We will guarantee no one will know who you are, we will get you treatment,” he told the crowd.

Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) said that he is working with the 68th Precinct to make sure more officers in the neighborhood are trained and equipped to administer naloxone, a heroin antidote that can reverse an overdose. He has also asked the NYPD to establish a new narcotics unit in Bay Ridge.

One of the final speakers outside of the Islamic Center was Donna Mae Depola, president of the Resource Training and Counseling Center, a drug rehabilitation facility at 39th Street in Sunset Park. Depola announced a fund-raiser on June 26 to fund the opening of a new satellite office in Bay Ridge which would offer low-cost stigma-free help for addicts in the community.

“It’s discrete. We don’t deny people because they have no money. We are a nonprofit,” said Depola.

Resource Training and Counseling Center fund-raiser at the Greenhouse Cafe [7717 Third Ave., between 77th and 78th streets in Bay Ridge, (718) 833–8200] June 26, 6–9 pm.

Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

London Pine says:
I guess the influx of hipsters into Bay Ridge is bringing an increase in drug use.
June 12, 2014, 5:26 am
naabt says:
Get help for heroin and painkiller addictions in a doctor’s office with the prescription medication buprenorphine. Go to - a nonprofit organization providing a free and confidential way to find certified doctors who can help. Learn more about bupe at
June 12, 2014, 7:09 am
Jay from Bay Ridge says:
cars double parking waiting for teens to get on and deal drugs are too common in Bay Ridge. especially 73 to Ovington AV on Narrows to 6 AV. Drug dealers are targeting Arab youth who dressed like gang members, and then these gang-like teen try to influence other Arab youth. It is all too common sight on streets and sidewalk. Their parents should also diligently monitors their kids as many of them roam like wild gang on the streets of 3 AV and 5 AV, without much respect to others.
June 12, 2014, 7:51 am
bkmanhatman from nubrucklyn says:
no London Pine. Even before the hipsters bayridge had a history of drugs and greedos.
June 12, 2014, 7:52 am
Marcus from Bay Ridge says:
I've got so many calls into the 68 to report a drug dealer doing business on my block and even though they "know who he is" he's still dealing.

When does Marty want to start putting pressure on the police to put the dealers behind bars?
June 12, 2014, 9:43 am
The Chooch from The Bohemian Magic Show says:
The Arab community in Bay Ridge will not be gentrified as other communities have been. On the contrary their culture thrives on economic turnarounds and shake-ups like gentrification. And this initiative to take out the trash is just a case of getting with the program. Old problem, nothing to do with hipsters, now it's time to gentrify, and spruce up the neighborhood. A no-brainier for Muslims, business as usual, hardly even a story.
June 12, 2014, 11:13 am
Vinny Polack from Greenpoint says:
It's not hipsters who are responsible for this.

After the recent crackdown on opiate prescriptions, a lot of vicodin addicts switched over to heroin. It's an epidemic in Long Island also. There was a good article in the New Yorker about this last month.

"Heroin in New York City, by the Numbers"
June 12, 2014, 11:43 am
Brad from Bay Ridge says:
It's the Muslim youth that live near 69th and 5th that are dealing the illegal drugs.
June 12, 2014, 4:30 pm
Advocate from ACLU says:
What's wrong with a lifestyle choice if no one is getting hurt?
June 12, 2014, 4:48 pm
Fry from Bay Ridge says:
Taking drugs and driving is often observed in Bay Ridge, I am sure this "lifestyle choice" is harmless until someone get hit by a car while driving under drug dosage.
June 12, 2014, 5:50 pm
Lars from Greenwood Slope says:
This is all covered in the 2014 breakthrough concept album "Another Kid from South Brooklyn" by local music sensation Alex Ritty.

Ritty's hit single "Ridge Get It (Bay Ridge)" is a no-holds-barred meditation about the trials and tribulations of local dope peddlers who have to contend with the Staten Island mafia amongst other sordid entities. Check it out on youtube today.
June 12, 2014, 8:24 pm
Brad from Bay Ridge says:
Lars, that is just the kind of crap nobody needs to check out.
June 12, 2014, 9:44 pm
Buzz Nightfalls from Bay Ridge says:
The new Bay ridge Narc unit should check out the Narrows Botanical Gardens on Shore Rd, those guys that hang out there have been growing and selling weed out of that garden for years!!!
June 14, 2014, 9:02 pm
Ready to Retire from Brooklyn says:
Bay Ridge has a NARC unit? I thought it was a NORC unit.
June 14, 2014, 10:10 pm
Brooklyn Bart from Bay Ridge says:
Drug dealing on 79th and 3rd by the massage parlor. No one does a thing to stop them.
June 16, 2014, 12:44 pm
magoo from ft ham says:
When Bay Ridge was happening 15 years ago, it was because of drugs. Everybody was tooting. TNT (NYPD narcs) came around, and locked up some kiddies for 20 years. It became a ghost town. What is left...hookah bars, and 99¢ stores.
June 23, 2014, 10:02 pm

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: