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Teen sweep: Police in Park Slope, Downtown, Fort Greene shoo youths

Police presence: From the Manhattan Bridge to Prospect Park, police are trying to keep teens from hanging out in large groups.
The Brooklyn Paper
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Move along, nothing to do here.

Police are breaking up groups of teens in Downtown, Fort Greene, and Park Slope who they say have been wreaking havoc when school lets out ever since the fall semester started, top cops said at a community board meeting at the Ingersoll Community Center on Monday night. The crackdown consists of officers tracking groups of kids across precincts and shooing them along when crowds get big, because that is when fights start, according to the commanding officer of the 88th Precinct, which serves Fort Greene and Clinton Hill.

“The larger the crowds get, the more things start to move and shake,” said Capt. Peter Fiorillo.

The clampdown started last month after 88th Precinct brass met with top cops from Park Slope’s 78th Precinct, Downtown’s 84th Precinct, the police Transit Bureau, school safety agents, and managers from Atlantic Terminal mall, the Barclays Center, and MetroTech Center. The meeting of the minds took place in the MetroTech office of the pro-business Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. The main consideration of that brainstorming session was figuring out how to relay information to monitor youngsters as they move across jurisdictions, Fiorillo said.

“We wanted to figure out how to coordinate and give updates as the crowds come through the area,” Fiorillo said.

Police called the meeting after a group of teens brawled with cops in the plaza in front of the Barclays Center in mid-September, disrupting a Brooklyn Emerging Arts in Theater Festival concert, and footage of the melee was posted to YouTube. Fiorillo blamed the concert, but DNAinfo reported that witnesses and organizers said the kids were unconnected to the event.

“That was little music festival that spiraled a bit out of control,” Fiorillo said.

The agreed-upon tactic that came out of the police-and-business powwow is for officers to cruise around ordering gatherings of teens to disperse.

“They come out of school and stick around,” said Capt. Sergio Centa, the 84th Precinct commander. “We want to get them home.”

When asked what the legal basis is for demanding people leave public sidewalks, Fiorillo declined to provide one.

“The point is not to make arrests,” Fiorillo said. “We don’t want to do that. We just want them to keep moving.”

Fiorillo said he understands why kids want to hang out after school, but he said when groups stick around too long, mischief starts.

“We know they’re kids. We know they’ve been pent up in school all day,” he said. “But the stagnant crowds cause our fights.”

Another issue is that once a gathering starts, word of it spreads online and draws youths from outside the neighborhood, Fiorillo said.

“The message gets out quick,” he said. “We have kids from as far away as East New York.”

A civil rights lawyer who often sues the Police Department blasted the policy, saying it violates teens’ First Amendment right to freedom of assembly and Fourth Amendment right to freedom from discrimination based on their age.

“It’s straight up unconstitu­tional,” said David Rankin, of the law firm Rankin and Taylor.

Simply asking kids to move along would be allowed, but for police to legally order teens to disperse, the group would have to be totally blocking sidewalk or road traffic, he said. Officers would never try it with another type of person that gives them agita, he added.

“Just because someone happens to be young and in a group is not a reason to harass them,” he said. “If there were 20 civil rights attorneys talking on a sidewalk, do you think they’d be asked to move along?”

The anti-hangout initiative sparked a public relations battle last week after a Park Slope resident at a police community council meeting reported cops telling black teens to “get out of the neighborho­od,” according to DNAinfo. At that meeting, Park Slope’s commanding officer blamed “outside people” for committing “most of the crimes” in the neighborhood, the website’s report states.

Police did not dispute the substance of the “get out of the neighborhood” exchange, but later claimed officers didn’t say the word “neighborho­od,” and that they were responding to a fight and told the kids to “go home,” the New York Daily News reported.

Tensions between police and kids came to a head Downtown in March, when police trying to oust high schoolers from a Chinese restaurant met resistance and, in the altercation that ensued, one officer pushed a 15-year-old girl through a picture window and fell through after her, according to police and witnesses. A hundred teens stormed Jay Street after the incident, onlookers said.

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260–8310. E-mail him at mperlman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Pawian from Greenpoint says:
I thought the 'teens' were Polish.
Oct. 7, 2014, 8:09 am
ty from pps says:
it was nice of them to get them shoes.
Oct. 7, 2014, 8:59 am
judahspechal from bedstuy says:
How is any of this Constitutional? NYPD keeps promoting sleazy policing. We are now living in 'Minority Report". In case no one is aware businesses are doing fine.

After 3pm across this city, you can find groups of kids hanging out.
Still grouping everyone together is plain racist. Not surprise.
Police policies continues to violate the Constitution, so if I go down town after 3pm w/2 friends & we are all black & Hispanic the NYPD can move me along. Seriously, what is Freedom?
Oct. 7, 2014, 10:12 am
jjm from c. hill says:
They have no right to tell anyone to disperse if there not doing anything wrong. They can stand & gather anywhere they want to. I bet if it were a bunch of blue eyed children, they wouldnt even be bothered.
Oct. 7, 2014, 11:20 am
Crime stats from 78th precinct says:
The cops wouldn't bother with groups of blue eyed children because that's not who commits most of the violent crime in the 78th precinct. The reference to 'outside people' is that while young black males comprise about 4% of the demographic in this precinct, they account for over 70% of the violent crime (CompStat). That being the case, it is also true that the vast majority of black kids in the neighborhood at any given time are not violent criminals and shouldn't be treated as such. It's not clear what the cops should do here other than respond quickly when crime occurs.
Oct. 7, 2014, 12:15 pm
jjm from c. hill says:
These teens should get a lawyer & file a suit against the NYPD for violating their right to gather in a public place. @crimestat, you say young black males commit 70% of the crime in that neighborhood but what gives you the assumption that every single young black male is up to no good just because they're walking together in a crowd and/or just congregating in public? You cant paint everybody with 1 brush, you juat cant.
Oct. 7, 2014, 1:06 pm
Common Cents from Crown Heights says:
If the NYPD wanted to prevent these crimes they would work hand in hand with the DA's office to ensure the few violent youth out there are punished accordingly. Instead they set an example to youth that there aren't consequences for their actions. The DA even wants to raise the age for criminal responsibility. But this is not about preventing violent crime, it's about image in certain areas and protecting businesses that don't want it too dark in front of their stores shooing away would be customers. The NYPD is the new Gestapo they are not here to enforce the law. They are here to protect the wealthy, increase the city's coffers by writing tickets and to keep the peasants in line by busting heads.
Oct. 7, 2014, 2:09 pm
claire from cobble hill says:
I have observed junior and high school students in my neighborhood for years after school lets out. They do indeed congregate and start trouble. It has nothing to do with skin color. Kids like drama and they like to show off. The resulting fights are scary and they affect businesses, residents and passersby alike. Something needs to be done.
Oct. 7, 2014, 2:29 pm
jay from nyc says:
ummm no this has nothing to do with race, and has everything to do to with parents who let their kids run amuck.
When a kid gets done with school he/she should either be involved with an after-school activity such as say sports, or studying, not hanging out on the other side of the borough doing nothing but stupid. That is NOT responsible parenting and if a parent is not going to take control of their kids then the cops damn well will and make no apologies for it, so shove the race card in your fourth point of contact cause race has zero to do with it.
Oct. 7, 2014, 8:58 pm
Jack Rescoe from ex-East Flatbush says:
jay from nyc is right, 100% right. I want to spout off, but Jay has said it all. No mercy, no coddling. Just treat these budding young thugs like they are. Stand back and thank the cops for their sacrifice. I'm sick of demonizing cops. Cops are human; some go bad, but that does not condemn all cops.
Oct. 7, 2014, 9:23 pm
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
This is a disgusting violation of constitutional rights that has been systematically put in place over the past years. I guess if you're under 18, the NYPD thinks the Bill of Rights doesn't apply to you. The ACLU and the NYCLU need to become actively involved in protecting the rights of these citizens.
Oct. 8, 2014, 11:52 am
Charles from Bklyn says:
This is not about Constitutional rights. Constitutional rights are about big things, such as political protests, illegal search and seizures, equality under the law, etc. This is about a specific local public nuisance and crime issue. The truth of the matter, known to all New York residents with experience, is this: if you are civil to others, respectful and behave, you don't have an issue with residents and police. However, if you are disrespectful, uncivil and looking for trouble, you will get trouble from residents and the police. You cannot breach the peace and then blame others for your wrong doing. It doesn't work that way. Lets keep it real here people.
Oct. 8, 2014, 12:22 pm
jay from nyc says:
Jim you don't have a Constitutional right to commit crimes and cause mayhem. Go read it for yourself if yo don't believe me.
Oct. 8, 2014, 5:21 pm
jim from boerum says:
Before any passes judgement why dont you guys go down to Barclay center the atlantic mall the atlantic terminal and see what goes on disruptive kids sometime close to 150 gathering causing trouble blocking traffic a few weeks a police officer was attacked. Has nothing to do with race color or creed grow up stop using the race card.... ok there is no need for 150 kids to be hanging out on 1 corner... just a few blocks away there was a huge fight with same kids jumping on top of cars broken windshields wiper blades... these are the same kids that you are trying to protect saying its unconstitutional gather all the facts be4 claiming race card. Grow up
Oct. 15, 2014, 1:18 pm
brooklyn guy from heights says:
I say that we should have more kid from fort greene and east new york ,come to park slope and mingle with the Park slope people and kids , i plead with you people in the slope ,lets ahve a big block party and set up barbcues before it gets to cold , comeon people get with it it all great fun , bring on the kids and dont forget the wycoff houses, those kids need an outlet too .
Oct. 16, 2014, 7:41 pm
Ferguson from Prospect Heights says:
I don't care what the constitutional rights are of these kids, they can NOT be allowed to congregate in huge numbers because of the threat they pose to people and to property. Years ago, it WAS against the law to loiter. Somehow judges decided differently - judges who lived in protected areas and had no idea that the people they were foistering on the public were not as well mannered as they. Blame the school system, the welfare system, the public projects system, the lack of any effort to teach responsibility, deportment, anything smacking of the possibility of a good job. The fact is that 40-50 years after the introduction of social systems that cared only for the bureaucracy and nothing for the kids or their families, we now have flash mobs. Pity the NYPD, and pity the law abiders in this society. So support the NYPD in its effort to stop problems with these kids before problems begin. The kids alone are probably wonderful. In a mass...NOT. PS: I am over 70, and I remember when we were taught how to walk and talk and behave ourselves.
July 14, 2015, 12:28 pm

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