Letters: Hey editor! Chose your words more carefully

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To the editor,

Like anyone else who remembers “the bad old days” of New York City, we can all recount some harrowing experiences with crime over the years. Despite crime in our city (and country) dropping every year since 1991, when you or someone you love is hurt (or even just feels unsafe) it’s still infuriating.

Which is why we agree that safety in Brooklyn Bridge Park (and in all of our parks) is a legitimate concern. It’s important to have community dialogue around it. We applaud our local organizations, police, and electeds who are engaged on this issue.

However, the race-baiting that is unleashed every time there’s a minor incident at Brooklyn Bridge Park is counterproductive at best. Here are some quotes from the comments section of your most recent article on the issue:

“Once you personally witness the parade of barbarians racing down the street you pay hard earned money to live on, you’ll be entitled to comment. The park serves as a thug magnet.”

“Thing has gone total ghetto. Just like the movie theater on Court St... I don’t set foot near either of those places.”

“There is, I believe, enough public support for any politician who would propose that the city simply raze the projects and pull the plug on NYCHA. It’s too costly and just bad for the city.”

We could go on. And if it were just some Internet trolls, we would leave it be. But what brought us to write this letter is when the print edition of this article’s headline described the group of mostly black students as a “horde.” Questions of political correctness aside, the article presented our overwhelmingly innocent Brooklyn kids who frequent the park as a menace to the community.

Brooklyn Bridge Park was created (and publicly funded) with the understanding that it would serve all of Brooklyn, not just the residents immediately adjacent to it. Those who have read (or lived) the history, will recall the alternative to a park was going to be a massive high-rise development without any public space at all.

Not everyone who expresses concern about crime is racist, and it’s unfair to brand them as such. Then again, it’s also unfair to assume that every black teenager headed to Pier 2 is plotting to mug you. Calls to “close the basketball courts” are both unrealistic and transparently bigoted.

Brooklyn Heights is not a gated community, and we are not in the midst of a crime epidemic. Moving forward, we would ask that your publication (and the local community) find the courage to try and do a better job of engaging on this issue — in our minds that means we must forego alarmism and demeaning language in favor of accurate reporting and thoughtful discussion.


Brooklyn Heights Residents:

Quinn Raymond

Gail Wiese

Alexander von Reventlow

Geneva von Reventlow

Rupa Bhattacharya

Gene Perelson

Meg Gleason

Jeff Gatrall

Cecily Cook

Heather Norton

Kristen Wicklund

Alexis Barad

Gabrielle Rubinstein

Holly Chase Foran

Annie Greenberger

Namrata Tripathi

Posted 12:00 am, May 8, 2017
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Reasonable discourse

stan chaz from Greenpoint says:
I agree with the letter writers.
Words matter.
The very essence of ugly prejudice is to lump people together into groups with negative characteristics (i.e. hordes) and to then unfairly judge or condemn them all on that basis.
In an effort to create flippant click-bait headlines and blurbs, especially in your crime section, the Brooklyn Paper sometimes uses words in a hurtful, insensitive or inappropriate way.
Your coverage of Brooklyn Bridge Park can serve to inflame passions, and stoke fear and hate, or it can help foster mutual understanding, fairness, and rational discourse.
Is that being PC?
No, it's simply asking for good and responsible journalism - journalism that your readers deserve and demand..
May 8, 2017, 11:15 am
Sean F from Bensonhurst says:
While I agree that tone and accuracy in reporting are important, "horde" is not automatically a derogatory word. It's primary meaning is "a large group, multitude, number, etc.; a mass or crowd". Good message, Brooklyn Heights Residents, but you picked a poor example.
May 8, 2017, 2:11 pm
Matt from Greenpoint says:
Hey, these residents actually appear to enjoy the cadre of young professionals that frequent their park. Good for them, best of luck!
May 8, 2017, 7:08 pm
samir kabir from downtown says:
I agree completely.
May 9, 2017, 6:57 am
Sandy from Greenpoint says:
Great letter! I hope Brooklyn Paper listens. I don't read it often because it often reeks of inflammatory headlines.
Thank you!
May 9, 2017, 4:42 pm
Quinn Raymond from Brooklyn Heights says:
Hey, thanks for publishing our note!
May 9, 2017, 4:48 pm
Fred from Windsor Terrace says:
Clearly just misunderstood youth bearing the burden of unreasonable behavioral expectations.
May 9, 2017, 9:55 pm

Comments closed.

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