ATLANTIC: "The Criminalization of Gentrifying Neighborhoods"
December 21, 2017, 09:05 AM
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From The Atlantic:

The Criminalization of Gentrifying Neighborhoods

Areas that are changing economically often draw more police—creating conditions for more surveillance and more potential misconduct.


In the early hours of Labor Day, Brooklynites woke up to the sound of steel-pan bands drumming along Flatbush Avenue, as hundreds of thousands of people gathered to celebrate J’ouvert, a roisterous Caribbean festival that commemorates emancipation from slavery. But having been marred by gang violence in recent years, this J’ouvert was markedly different, as The New York Times described. The event, which derives its name from a Creole term for “daybreak,” was heavily staffed by the New York City Police Department. Floodlights and security checkpoints were scattered along the parade route, and many revelers were piqued by what they saw as excessive police presence—an overwhelming show of force in response to a comparatively small number of bad actors.

“There’s a criminalization of our neighborhood,” Imani Henry, the president of the police-accountability group Equality for Flatbush, told me recently. After the NYPD declined Henry’s public-information request about security ahead of and during the festival, citing safety concerns, his group decided to sue for it. (The NYPD did not respond to a request for comment.)

Henry believes the stepped-up law enforcement at J’ouvert is part of a larger pattern of increased police surveillance in gentrifying areas. The lawsuit—which has since made its way to the New York Supreme Court—argues that the NYPD recently increased “broken windows”-style arrests in Flatbush and East Flatbush, and claims that these “police actions have coincided with increased gentrification.”

That claim is not just speculative. Over the past two decades, gentrification has become a norm in major American cities. The typical example is a formerly low-income neighborhood where longtime residents and businesses are displaced by white-collar workers and overpriced coffeehouses. But the conventional wisdom that image reflects—that gentrification is a result of an economic restructuring—often leaves out a critical side effect that disproportionately affects communities of color: criminalization.

Before 2017, the annual West Indian parade in NYC had just insane levels of murder. For example, from the NY Post in 2016:

Student killed at J’Ouvert wanted man to stop grinding on her: cops

By Larry Celona, Tina Moore and Shawn Cohen

September 6, 2016 | 11:26pm

An all-American college student was fatally shot in the face at the J’Ouvert festival in Brooklyn for having the nerve to tell a man to stop grinding against her, police sources said Tuesday.

St. John’s University student Tiarah Poyau, 22, was walking the pre-West Indian Day Parade route with three pals early Monday when she was accosted and told the man, “Get off me,’’ according to a source.

Her friends, who were walking ahead of her around 4:15 a.m., then heard a shot and saw her fall at Empire Boulevard and Franklin Avenue. Poyau had been shot in the eye “at close range,’’ the source said.

“This young lady is just a stellar person,” said Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce. “No issues in her life whatsoever, and none before either.”

The boozed-up 20-year-old thug who shot her was nabbed Tuesday morning while drunkenly driving on three wheels and with a Caribbean flag wrapped around his bloody hand, according to police.

Before his bust, suspect Reginald Moise told pals, “I think I shot somebody on the parade route. I didn’t know the gun was loaded,” sources said.

Moise, who has five sealed prior arrests, first fled to his girlfriend’s Crown Heights apartment after shooting Poyau, according to police sources.

The year before, a top aide of Governor Cuomo was murdered at this parade.

Unlike a lot of police departments, the NYPD has plenty of tax revenue to do what it takes to crack down on crime, which it largely has. That it took until 2017 for the NYPD to keep West Indians from murdering each other at the West Indian day parade probably reflects West Indian political clout in NYC.

Let’s think about this from a slightly different angle. What this article shows is that black occupation of much of the potentially most valuable urban real estate in the country — e.g., much of Brooklyn, some of Manhattan, much of D.C., the south lakefront in Chicago, South-Central Los Angeles, Oakland, even parts of San Francisco — has been dependent upon criminal violence keeping out law-abiding folk.

How much are black politicians complicit in all the black violence necessary to keep black communities concentrated in potentially desirable locations?

For example, according to “Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance” by Barack Obama, the first conversation Obama and his spiritual advisor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, ever had was about political turf in Chicago. Wright’s secretary told Obama she was moving to the suburbs so her son could grow up away from black gangs. Rev. Wright disagreed sharply with his secretary.

Obama did not divulge his opinion in his memoir.

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