On Thursday, 43 people were rounded up from off the streets of Brownsville and indicted with gang related charges in a mega sweep of two gangs the ‘Hood Starz’ & ‘Wave Gang’. A wave of murders hit the high-crime low-income neighborhood of Brooklyn when the rival gangs spun out of control for territory of public housing blocks.
When you look at the mugshots of these 43, your immediately struck by how young these kids are. Residents told the New York Times that these kids were bored with nothing to do, caught up in the street life, and either in gang activity schools or dropped out. Residents also said none of these kids were really big players in organized crime in Brownsville, nor were the gangs highly organized.
Then it hits you when you hear residents talked about how afterschool programs had been cut, and community centers shuttered. Walking around Brownsville and East Brooklyn, it becomes immediately apparent that what little there is to keep the youth off the streets is often overcrowded and cash-strapped. A neighborhood of some of the most highly concentrated public housing in America; residents face racial profiling and harassment on a daily basis as well as a vast amount of backlogged work orders in building that the underfunded housing authority cannot meet. On top of this, Brownsville is not well connected to the rest of the city, and needs more community programs, afterschool program, jobs, and new education facilities (A promise that was broken by the city) to ease the overcrowding of existing schools.
Then there is the problem of the unemployment amongst youth over 50% in the area, and a lack of opportunities to even make ends meet legitimately. In the nearby Spring Creek section of East New York, the Gateway Shopping Mall was praised for providing jobs to unemployed youth, however it soon became apparent that these McJobs were low-paying with few hours and high turnover rates.
The issue is that youth in vast numbers turn to street crime as a result of the exploitation and oppression that youth in the inner city face. As a result of a lack of opportunities, schools, community programs, daycare, jobs, amongst other rights that the capitalist system deprives Brownsville. The issue is not that youth from the projects are bad because youth and projects are bad, as the puppet politicians and real gangsters on wall street would have you believe.
The reality is that the real boss gangs are on Wall Street. They have more than half the wealth, which leaves people in streets all over New York fighting for the crumbs. Its not these youth that are to blame, it’s the system that forgot them. The system that exploited them from birth. The societal problems that exist in the city after hundreds of years of increasing inequality between classes. Hundreds of years of poverty in city slums. In order to prevent this from happening again and again, we must occupy our communities for the community services we need to give our youth a better future and keep them off the streets.
Instead, a underfunded NYCHA uses money that should be used to repair and maintain crumbling infested buildings to fund the coffers of the NYPD; supposedly “paying” the NYPD for patrols. Patrols which result in residents getting harrassed and locked up constantly all over New York for non-crimes or low-level crimes. What we see is that instead of creating preventive social services and after school programs, the City resorts to closing schools all over the city and locking people up in record rates. While the banks get bailed out, our communities are getting desperate from foreclosures and unemployment and over-policing is not the solution. The solution housing, jobs, and education as a right.