Safety in our community

Safety in our community

Many of you have contacted me in recent days about a string of sexual assaults in our community. There has been a spike in these attacks, ranging from groping to rape, in South Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Greenwood Heights, and Sunset Park over the last few months. Police believe that many of these attacks were perpetrated by the same suspect.  All of us have the right to walk the streets our neighborhoods without fear of attack. We must bring the men behind these vicious actions to justice. 

More Police Presence
I have been in touch with the NYPD’s 72nd and 78th Precincts and want you to be aware of how the police are responding. Because of the urgency of the situation – and the right kind of pressure from the community – both precincts are increasing their presence in our community.

The 72nd Precinct has put many extra patrols in its northern sector (where most of the attacks have taken place), distributed thousands of flyers with a sketch of the suspect, and taken a number of undercover measures as well. Its commanding officer himself has done numerous tours in the area, and is continuing to do so. The 78th Precinct (where the most recent attack took place, near the 7th Ave F station) has increased patrols in its southern sector. In addition, the Transit Police have been involved, and have increased their patrols at the station.

This has obviously not yet been enough. I have asked both commanding officers to further increase patrols (both uniformed and plain-clothes officers). I’ll be out with them this weekend myself. And I plan to stay in close touch with them, and keep pushing for additional resources, until these predators are captured.

Community Organizing
There are also a couple of events that I hope you can attend in the next week to help address this issue:

  • On September 13th, the 72nd Precinct is holding its monthly precinct community council meeting. This is your opportunity to speak directly to those responsible for keeping us safe. The meeting will be at 7:30 PM at Marien Heim Center at 4520 4th Avenue.
  • On September 14 at 8:00 PM, Safe Slope, a new organization of members of our community, has organized a Take Back the Night rally to show our collective resistance to sexual assault. I will be there and I hope you join me. The rally will be at Prospect Avenue and 4th Avenue, by the R train stop.

Safe Slope is also seeking volunteers to help ensure that women and LGBTQ people in our neighborhood have safe spaces to go to or people to walk with if they feel threatened. If you would like to help, contact safeslope [at] gmail [dot] com.

Protecting Yourself
Sexual assault is never the victim’s fault, but there are some things you can do to help stay safe. When outside, always be aware of your surroundings and avoid wearing headphones, especially after dark. Try to walk along well-lit streets and walk with people you know.

In addition, the Center for Anti-Violence Education (a great local not-for-profit group) will be hosting a number of self-defense classes in the community:

  • Saturday September 17th from 4:00 to 5:30 pm at CAE’s space at 327 7th Street, 2nd Floor, between 4th and 5th Avenues. Free childcare will be provided. Space is limited (to 25) so interested individuals should RSVP to info [at] caeny [dot] org or 718-788-1775.

Councilwoman Sara Gonzalez has also arranged two additional opportunities for self-defense classes, at CrossFit718 (712 5th Avenue @ 22nd Street) beginning Saturday, September 10th, and at PS 10 (511 7th Avenue @ 17th Street) beginning Monday, September 19th and Tuesday, September 20th. You can get more information on these from her office at 718-439-9012.

If you see anything suspicious, or fear you are being followed, you should of course call 911. You can also call the 72nd Precinct (718-965-6311), the 78th Precinct(718-636-6411), or the Crime Stoppers TIPS line (1-800-577-TIPS). If you aren’t satisfied, you should call my office at 718-499-1090.

Times like this make it clear how terrorizing sexual assault is, but we should also not forget how prevalent sexual assault is in our society. Every day, women are attacked by men and too often their accounts are dismissed, downplayed, or not prosecuted. This indifference keeps victims silent, and attackers pray on that silence. We need to hold the police, the press, your politicians (yes, me too), and each other accountable, to take sexual assault seriously. That will go a long way toward making our neighborhood and all neighborhoods safe for women.