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:
Alexander von Reventlow
Geneva von Reventlow
Holly Chase Foran