More than 400 people marched through South Slope on Wednesday night to unite against the sex fiends who raped one woman and tried to attack nine others since March — a massive show of frustration over the NYPD’s inability to catch the villain and a call for neighbors to protect each other.
City activists, local pols and fed-up neighbors carried glow sticks and whistles, chanting so loudly that people stepped outside of their homes and cheered along the route from Fourth Avenue to Mayrose Park on 17th Street and Sixth Avenue.
“We’re all here because we care about our neighborhood and about one another,” said Jessica Silk, who helped form the new neighborhood watch group Safe Slope only two weeks ago. “It speaks volumes that we came together so quickly.”
Not everyone was in such a feel-good mood.
“Leave us the f—k alone!” read one sign held by a Bedford-Stuyvesant woman.
“I’m so angry — enough is enough!” said Rachel Levin, 25. “I came out here because some of my friends have been sexually assaulted or mugged. Awareness is our biggest weapon.”
At the park, one elected official handed out rape whistles, 72nd Precinct officers distributed safety tips, and Annie Ellman of the Center for Anti-Violence Education in Gowanus showed the crowd how elbow and punch a perpetrator.
A feeling of community permeated the hot summer night, but many participants had a tough message for the attackers.
Councilwoman Letitia James (D–Fort Greene), Councilman Brad Lander (D–Park Slope), and Assemblyman Jim Brennan (D–Park Slope) joined in — but James was the angriest.
“Whoever is responsible for these heinous crimes — we will find you,” James said. “Women need to partner up, we need to be aware, we need to yell and we need to kick them in the balls!”
Police announced on Tuesday that they were seeking two or more suspects in the series of attempted rapes that have rocked South Slope, Bay Ridge, Sunset Park, and most recently Park Slope.
In the latest attack, a monster attacked a woman on Sept. 9 near Seventh Avenue and Ninth Street at about 12:30 am. Police did not provide further information.
A day earlier, a Park Slope woman was on 12th Street between Eighth Avenue and Prospect Park West at about 11:30 pm when the creep grabbed her from behind. She screamed and her neighbors chased him away.
She described him as 5-foot-4 with dark hair, last seen wearing a black tank top.
Adding to the confusion is the existence of three police sketches relating to the same series of crimes.
Some residents have been critical of local police efforts, accusing cops of ignoring 911 calls and a tip from a woman who called Crime Stoppers to report a creep who flashed her on the subway and looked like the South Slope sex fiend.
After an Aug. 26 attack, police described the first suspect as a thin man, about 30 years old, standing 5-foot-6 to 5-foot-8 at 165 pounds.
Recent victims describe a more muscular suspect, at 28 to 30 years old, about 5-foot-6 and last seen wearing a red T-shirt and black pants.
Cops have increased patrols and passed out hundreds of “Wanted” posters since the end of August.
But some locals aren’t waiting for police or even elected officials to protect them. Safe Slope organizers are seeking volunteers for community safe walks and self-defense courses.
“Too often we feel police and elected officials should come up with a solution,” said Sarah Elspeth Patterson, a 27-year-old South Slope resident. “But we can do better for ourselves and for each other.”
Anyone with information on the South Slope rapists is asked to call Brooklyn Special Victims Squad at (718) 230-4415, not Crime Stoppers; free self-defense classes at CrossFit718 [712 Fifth Ave. at 22nd Street in Greenwood Heights, (718) 768-0090], Sept. 21 and Sept. 28 at 7 pm; Sept. 24, Oct. 1 at 1 pm. For info, visit crossfit718.com.
©2011 Community News Group
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