Brooklyn helped hand Barack Obama a historic win on Tuesday night — and then revelers spilled out into the streets in a cathartic victory party in several neighborhoods.
The Illinois senator, who did not enjoy the support of the borough’s political establishment during the Democratic primary season, was backed by 79 percent of Brooklyn’s voters and rang up more votes — 545,785 — than in any other county in New York State.
Perhaps no Brooklynites cheered more than blacks, who celebrated the momentous occasion just two generations removed from the days when, in some states, many were effectively barred from the polls.
“Most people are saying that they never imagined they would see this in their lifetime,” said Rev. Clinton Miller of Brown Memorial Baptist Church in Clinton Hill. “They thought that maybe their grandchildren might live to see this.”
He smiled as he remembered one congregant telling a story of how she teared up when she spoke of her grandfather, who had walked to the polls and signed his name with an “X” in the 1960s.
Obama’s victory, called by the networks at just after 11 pm, sent supporters rushing spontaneously into the streets.
From Kensington to Fort Greene, and throughout Park Slope, Prospect Heights, and down to Carroll Gardens and Brooklyn Heights, people carried signs and chanted “Yes we did!”
But in Williamsburg, three celebrants were arrested for blocking streets and five others received summons for public drinking at Bedford Avenue and North Seventh Street, police said.
The celebrations capped a historic day that began with long lines before polls even opened in complete darkness at 6 am. At some points, voters had to wait for up to three hours.
“I’m going to stay [in line], because you do what you have to do,” said John Gillick, who waited outside the state Supreme Court building near Borough Hall. “But it makes me angry to see [that] the wait is so long. These people probably won’t come back.”
But many more stayed so they could vote for Obama, who actually lived in Brooklyn Heights in 1983 after graduating from Columbia University.
During the campaign, Brooklyn came alive for Obama: kids held bake sales, women parodied GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin for Halloween and posters of the future president filled brownstone windows. — Evan Gardner
Residents hit the streets of Fort Greene after Barrack Obama was elected president on Tuesday, Nov. 5: