From 1969, a black and white report on the complexities of being a Black cop and the questions of allegiances – to the community (Central Harlem) or to the NYPD.
In 1969 only 6% of the NYPD were Black officers. Kent Garrett produced this piece. You can see the corner of Adam Clayton Powell Blvd and West 124th Street here (The Greater Refuge Church).
Madame St. Clair on the History Chanel
The History Chanel has an article on Harlem’s policy queen, Stephanie St. Clair who was a Harlem entrepreneur with a head for numbers and organization.
Like most African Americans in the early 20th century, Madame St. Clair found herself barred from traditional, white-dominated financial businesses like banking or investing. Instead, she made her fortune in the underground economy of the numbers racket. Fearlessly facing down corrupt cops and violent mobsters alike, she became one of the racket’s most successful operators, while channeling some of her money into legitimate ventures and working to support Harlem residents.
We hope you’ll come out for our final HNBA meeting of the season (before our summer break) on Tuesday, June 14th at 7:00 PM.
To get the Zoom link:
We’ll hear from the Citizens Union about what is on the horizon for redistricting City Council that could change whether or not you are considered part of (central) Harlem or part of East Harlem. Dan (from Citizen’s Union) will talk about what’s on the horizon and how you can add your voice to the mapping changes that are coming.
We’ll also get a follow-up from Wilfredo Lopez on the DSNY’s budget – one that gives significantly more money to the UES compared to East Harlem.
Lastly, we’ll hear from Shawanna Vaughn who is challenging Inez Dickens for State Assembly from her base in Lincoln Houses.
Kioka Jackson Writes:
From Kioka Jackson:
Let me start this message by saying thank you to everyone who participated in the National Gun Violence Awareness Event which was in partnership with SAVE/GOSO; East Harlem’s Cure violence program. It was a day that displayed togetherness, love, and hope. Now after we take off our orange shirts and we have finished chanting and marching – what’s next? There is still some work that we have to do on a daily basis. Each of us has a responsibility to do something and we are all absolutely capable of sharing love with our community. Love is the first step toward healing and combatting this public health epidemic that we are facing around the country. Please see a few pictures and a news clip of the day. I am thankful to all of you for your continued support toward making our neighborhood safe.
Our next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, June 15th at 5:45 PM and it will be totally in-person. I will send out a follow-up e-mail letting you know if it will be outdoors or at the Precinct. It all depends on the weather. It is our final meeting for the summer so we planned to have a little bit of a light BBQ; Mix and Mingle. So let’s hope the weather Gods smile on us for that day.
I look forward to seeing you all soon. Look out for a message before the end of this week with further details.
Decades of disinvestment, planned neglect, and overtly biased policies followed the devastation caused by redlining. The 1938 map below of northern Manhattan shows how our community was redlined:
The on-the-ground consequence of both redlining and its aftermath is seen in short film, shot from a car in the 1980’s. It has taken decades of public and private investment to bring Harlem back from this abyss even if there is still more work to be done.
To view the film as the camera person goes across 128th Street West(?) and then turns south on St. Nicholas and Frederick Douglass Blvd. see:
The Park Avenue Viaduct — a.k.a. the dark brown elevated tracks that carry Metro-North trains north of Grand Central — was built in 1893 and is in need of an upgrade.
After 129 years of operation, the tracks have started to show signs of stress, so the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is making plans to replace sections between 115th-123rd and 128th-131st streets along Park Avenue.
I was struck by where former Lt. Governor Brian Benjamin chose to announce he was withdrawing his name from the ballot in the upcoming election. He made the announcement through a video he posted on Twitter near the spot where Arnold Newman photographed Langston Hughes in 1960.
This location (overlooking 5th Avenue) was also featured in the classic Harlem film, The Cool World:
Union Settlement House Presents: East Harlem Nights
A fun evening with food, drink, entertainment, and El Barrio welcoming all.
With state and congressional redistricting dominating the headlines, we want to make you are also informed about the council redistricting process, which is currently underway.
You are invited (on May 17th at 7pm on Zoom) to a presentation and training on council redistricting. The training will last 45 minutes with 15 minutes for questions. You can register for the training here.
The training will include:
The basics of Council redistricting. Why engaging in the Council redistricting process is important. An overview of the process and the criteria used to draw the maps. How to look at and create your own maps. How to testify before the Council’s Districting Commission. The essential elements of an effective testimony.
Considering the impact of new district boundaries, we welcome you to get involved and make your voice heard. See more information about our work at CitizensUnion.org/NYCRedistricting
Streetsblog has a fascinating article on how speeding and red light cameras function in light of conversations about bias in policing and traffic enforcement. The map of traffic cameras shows that relative to the rest of the city, few tickets are given in Harlem and East Harlem by these automated systems.
In the map below, darker colors indicate more tickets for speeding and running red lights:
In a more detailed view, the Upper West Side, and the South Bronx both have more tickets:
On the map, you can zoom i n to see the location fo the cameras – their size indicating the number of tickets served from that camera:
Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network painted red X’s on the doors of crack houses and establishments that were selling drugs and drug paraphernalia In Harlem and Bed Stuy. NAN waged a summer campaign against drugs and violence in the Community.
If you look closely. You will see Eric Adams in the march..
Boundless Theater Company at the Julia de Burgos Center
Boundless Theatre Company has announced a new residency at the Julia de Burgos Performance and Arts Center, sponsored by the Hispanic Federation! This residency is the latest step forward in a longstanding collaboration between the two nonprofits, and will take place throughout the course of the 2021-22 season.
Since 2015, Boundless Theatre has been instrumental in creating rich and diverse programming for the Julia de Burgos Center, which will increase during this inaugural residency. Programs will include two professional productions located at the center, including a Mainstage Production (December 2021) and a Spanish-language production (June 2022). Other programs will include El Barrio Raíces, a children’s arts workshop (March/April 2022 and July 2022), and Boundless Exposed, a workshop program for early-career theatre designers of color (May 2022).
Boundless Theatre also remains a key collaborator for the annual FUERZAfest Festival, produced by the Hispanic Federation. This festival is the first LGBTQ+ Latinx Arts Festival in the Northeast, and takes place annually at the Julia de Burgos Performance and Arts Center.
Boundless Theatre Company is a designer-led theatre company spearheaded by women and theatre-makers of color. Recent projects include NYC productions of Migdalia Cruz’s Fur and María Irene Fornés’ The Conduct of Life.
The Julia de Burgos Performance and Arts Center is located at 1680 Lexington Avenue. As part of this inaugural residency program, Boundless Theatre Company will be offering a discount on all productions for residents of East Harlem.
For more information about Boundless Theatre, please visit www.boundlesstheatre.org or follow @boundlesstheatre on Facebook and Instagram. For more about the Julia de Burgos Performance and Arts Center, please visit www.jdbpac.org.
Harlemites have been at the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic for two years, hard hit by the immediate health emergency and the longstanding challenges that the pandemic underscored. On our road to recovery, we must address High unemployment, rising gun violence, a houseless and affordability housing crisis, food insecurity, systemic mental health and psychiatric care failures, poor sanitation, and inadequate access to open spaces.
I am working in collaboration with New York City Mayor Eric Adams, local elected officials and community stakeholders to address the ongoing needs of our community and enhance the safety of West and East Harlem through criminal justice and health reform.
(photo: Espaillat tour with Mayor Adams, March 2022)
In coordination with key local stakeholders, the following suggestions to help address some of these issues have been put forth:
1. Amplify Neighborhood Safety Teams in West and East Harlem.
2. Reduction of Methadone Clinics and other related services in the 125th Street corridor by no less than 50%.
3. Crack down on the “Iron Pipeline” and “Ghost Guns” in the 125th Street Corridor.
4. Increase Violence Interrupters in the 125th Street Corridor – specifically in neighborhoods that currently have few or none.
5. Establish additional bus routes from Randall’s and Wards Islands.
6. Support Mental Health Assistance throughout West and East Harlem and Enhance Homeless Services.
7. The establishment of an ad-hoc committee composed of senior leadership members of the offices of the Mayor, Representative Espaillat and the Governor, key agencies including OASAS and DOHMH, MTA, DOT, NYCT, DSNY, law enforcement including the NYPD and the Manhattan DA, and lastly- elected officials and key stakeholders on 125th street.
8. Engage and Support Youth in the 125th Street Corridor.
9. Mitigate Financial Stress in the 125th Street Corridor.
10. Increase the number of Park Enforcement Patrol officers at ART Park, Dr. Ronald McNair and Marcus Garvey parks to help discourage illicit activity and encourage a safe welcoming open space environment.
Adriano Espaillat Member of Congress
Los residentes de Harlem han estado en la primera línea de la pandemia de COVID-19 durante dos años, y han sido muy afectados por la emergencia sanitaria inmediata y los desafíos de larga data que subrayó la pandemia. En nuestro camino hacia la recuperación, debemos abordar los índices alto de desempleo, el aumento de la violencia con armas de fuego, una crisis de viviendas asequibles y de personas desamparadas, la inseguridad alimentaria, las fallas sistémicas en la atención psiquiátrica y de salud mental, el saneamiento deficiente y el acceso inadecuado a espacios abiertos.
Estoy trabajando en colaboración con el alcalde de la Ciudad de Nueva York, Eric Adams, los funcionarios electos locales y las partes interesadas de la comunidad para abordar las necesidades actuales de nuestra comunidad y mejorar la seguridad en el Oeste y el Este de Harlem a través de reformas de la justicia penal y de la salud.
En coordinación con participantes locales clave, se han presentado las siguientes sugerencias para ayudar a abordar algunos de estos problemas:
1. Ampliar los Equipos de Seguridad Vecinal en el Oeste y el Este de Harlem.
2. Reducción de clínicas de metadona y otros servicios relacionados en el corredor de la calle 125.
3. Tomar medidas enérgicas contra la “Iron Pipeline” (ruta de contrabando de armas ilegales) y las “Armas indetectables” en el Corredor de la calle 125.
4. Aumentar los Interruptores de la Violencia en el corredor de la calle 125, específicamente en los vecindarios que actualmente tienen pocos o ninguno de estos servicios.
5. Establecer rutas de autobuses adicionales desde Randall’s y Wards Island
6. Apoyar la asistencia de salud mental en todo el Oeste y Este de Harlem y mejorar los servicios para personas desamparadas.
7. El establecimiento de un comité ad-hoc compuesto por interesados clave en la calle 125, miembros de las oficinas del alcalde, la gobernadora y yo, agencias clave que incluyen OASAS, DOHMH, MTA, DOT, NYCT, DSNY, agencias de aplicación de la ley, incluyendo el NYPD y el fiscal de distrito de Manhattan y, por último, los funcionarios electos locales.
8. Involucrar y apoyar a los jóvenes en el corredor de la calle 125 a través de servicios de mejora de la educación y el empleo.
9. Mitigar el estrés financiero en el corredor de la calle 125 a través de oportunidades económicas.
10. Aumentar el número de agentes de la Patrulla de Vigilancia de Parques en los parques ART, Dr. Ronald McNair y Marcus Garvey para fomentar un ambiente de espacio abierto seguro y acogedor.
Adriano Espaillat Miembro del Congreso
Construction Has Topped Off
Construction on a massive new building east of the State Office Building.
Simone Marques writes (and you can see our recent HNBA guest, Wilfredo Lopez who is running for New York State Assembly in the photos):
Hello dear Earth keepers!I hope you had a beautiful winter! Here, I’ve been doing lots of winter sowing… Yes, no reason to stop gardening during the winter if you can create mini green houses with translucent containers! And I’m reusing all kinds of containers, including 50 water bottles I rescued from the NYC Marathon last year. It’s a fun project! Just plant your natives seeds (the kind of seeds that go dormant and need cold stratification) and leave them outside all winter. When the time is right, they will germinate. Many of our natives can be direct sown too, so now it’s a good time to get your seeds. I bought them at Prairie Moon Nursery and on their website you can do a search by germination code. Code A is for direct sow. If you prefer plugs, I believe you can still order them. I’m officially a crazy plant lady 🙂 I have around 400 containers in my courtyard. If all goes well, I’ll have seedlings to give away. Fingers crossed!
What’s in the container? Native plants of the North East that will feed many pollinators like bumblebees, butterflies, dragonflies (they eat lots of mosquitoes) and many others. These plants are gorgeous, NYC strong and they are very beneficial! Every little garden can make a life or death difference. Bumblebees are extinct in 8 states already and endangered in New York. The use of pesticides is the main cause of insect death at alarming rates. No insects = no birds. No birds = no spreading of keystone plants seeds. It’s all connected! What can we do? Buy organic, compost, plant natives, replace turf grass with other alternatives, add pollinator gardens, no harmful pesticides… think global, but act local!
Many of our street tree beds are now colorful with daffodils and crocus because hundreds of wonderful volunteers planted these bulbs last Fall, all over the city. Hopefully we’ll be adding more natives ephemerals this year (they are the first plants to bloom and they feed the bees).
We already hosted two community clean ups this year. So much litter!! But hopefully we are inspiring more neighbors to take action too. Here are some pictures and some shocking facts about the 4 trillions of cigarette butts that every year are contaminating our water and soil with thousands of harmful chemicals. Did you know they can be recycled? Terracycle is the only company doing this here, as far as I know, but I hope that our Sanitation Department will do something about it ASAP. Smokers can make a difference by using the ashtrays until we have a better solution. After all the hard work, we had lunch @bargoyana Yum!! Amazing Brazilian-Belgian food and drinks.
We are getting together this Saturday morning on our beautiful East River Esplanade. Join the fun? Access on 96th St (cross under the FDR underpass). Water fountain and restrooms at the Stanley Isaacs Playground on 1st ave & 96th St.
I hope to see you soon. Please share and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.
Gratefully, Simone Marques
Green and Blue Eco Care
Lieutenant Governor Benjamin Facing Federal Corruption Investigation
Various media sites are reporting that Harlem’s very own Lieutenant Governor Benjamin is facing a federal corruption investigation.
Last Friday, the DailyNews reported that Southern District of New York investigators had recently subpoenaed state officials and State Senate employees regarding grants Benjamin had lined up in his former Harlem district. Per the News, “The inquiry is related to funds doled out through the State and Municipal Facilities Program, or SAM, a lump sum appropriation in the state budget administered through the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, according to the source.”
On Sunday, the Times reported that with regards to the campaign-finance issue, after Gerald Migdol was indicted late last year, SDNY prosecutors “subsequently issued several grand-jury subpoenas late last year seeking records from Mr. Benjamin’s campaign committee, some of its paid staffers and firms consulting for the campaign, according to three people with direct knowledge of those actions.”
The Times notes that it remains unclear if Migdol is cooperating with federal authorities, or whether or not Benjamin will face any charges.
A spokesperson for Benjamin insisted in a statement that “neither [Benjamin] nor his campaign are being accused of any wrongdoing, and they are prepared to fully cooperate with authorities.”
Busses and Trains
The MTA would like to know what you think of their busses and trains:
We’re writing now to ask you to join with other bus and subway customers worldwide to answer a brief survey (only five minutes). Everyone will be asked the same questions about buses and subways in their home cities. The transit systems around the world will then share and compare the results to learn from each other.
We hope you will accept this invitation to participate. Please note, there are two separate surveys below, one for buses and the other for subways — we hope that you will complete both. Follow each of the links below in your preferred language.