Locals chose between dueling public safety events on National Night Out • Brooklyn Paper

Locals chose between dueling public safety events on National Night Out

Children play with bubbles during the 78th Precinct’s National Night Out Against Crime in Grand Army Plaza on Aug. 6.
Photo by Caroline Ourso

Fun-loving Brooklynites partied it up at dueling community events promoting public safety in Prospect Park on Tuesday — one run by the Police Department and another run by a group of civil rights activists.

State Sen. Kevin Parker, 78th Precinct Captain Jason Hagestad, and Councilmember Brad Lander pose at the community event in Grand Army Plaza.
Photo by Caroline Ourso

The 78th Police Precinct’s National Night Out Against Crime street fair — an annual tradition aimed at improving relations between the community and police — rocked Grand Army Plaza with a bonanza of music, food, games, and a huge bouncy house.

State Sen. Kevin Parker addressed the crowd at the community policing event.
Photo by Caroline Ourso

“It was a great event. There were a ton of people who showed up, and it was a lot of fun,” said Charlie Callari, who spent the evening making balloon animals for local kids. “It’s a night that connects police officers with the community to teach crime prevention.”

Charlie Callari makes balloon animals for children during the 78th Precinct annual Night Out event.
Photo by Caroline Ourso

But this year, New York’s Finest festival had to compete with an alternative event hosted by a group of Kings County activists on the opposite side of Prospect Park near Parkside, where they hoped to provide locals an alternative paths to public safety that don’t involve handcuffs and firearms, according to one organizer.

Community members play make music at “A Night Out for Safety and Liberation,” a competing event less than two miles away from the 78th Precint event.
Photo by Trey Pentecost

“We were teaching people about tenant rights, immigration rights,” said Albert Saint Jean. “A lot of that information can save a lot of people from being evicted and having to go into shelters, and save a lot of folks from being locked up in cages — either in jail or the detention system.”

“Night Out for Safety and Liberation” organizer Imani Henry speaks on the topic of gentrification in Brooklyn.
Photo by Trey Pentecost

The activist event, dubbed A Night Out for Safety and Liberty, featured multiple stations where legal experts offered advice for navigating a complex justice system — including run-ins with law enforcement.

Chic Nunar preforms poetry at the event in Prospect Park.
Photo by Trey Pentecost

“A lot of people don’t know how to de-escalate a situation, especially with the police,” said activist Arlene Corona. “So just the fact that they were there teaching people how, when you’re in a situation where you’re panicking, to calm down and protect yourself.”

Organizer Albert Saint Jean speaks to the crowd about immigration and tenant rights.
Photo by Trey Pentecost

A Night Out for Safety and Liberty is a national movement created in 2013 in opposition to the National Night Out Against Crime, where law enforcement agencies across the country seek to build inroads into communities with free hot dogs and carnival events.

Reach reporter Aidan Graham at agraham@schnepsmedia.com or by calling (718) 260–4577. Follow him at twitter.com/aidangraham95.

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