Author Archives | agp2127

Sounding Off On Stop and Frisk

Tension between Bronx residents and police have been smoldering in recent weeks, in the wake of police killings of two unarmed young men.

Recent protests have followed a year of public outcry over reports that city police have disproportionately stopped and frisked Black and Latino young men, particularly those in the South Bronx, based on little more than police suspicion. Most recently, a five-borough protest spurred by residents took place last Thursday.

On Wednesday, Sept. 13, the Bronx Ink staff decided to find out if Bronx residents thought the stop-and-frisk tactics  might in any way be contributing to the growing unrest. Reporters scoured 12 community districts and collected the stories of 33 people, ranging from the ages of 19 to 72.  Of those surveyed, 43 percent were Black, 30 percent Hispanic, 15 percent White, 9 percent South Asian, and 3 percent Asian. Six were women, 27 were men. Occupations ranged from student to dishwasher to paralegal. The overall population in the Bronx is 30.1 percent Black, 53.5 percent Hispanic, 10.9 percent White, and 3.2 percent Asian.

Police argue that the stop and frisk policy has resulted in removing dangerous criminals from the street. But a majority of men interviewed complained about being stopped multiple times, even though weapons were never found. Data released by the New York Police Department last year showed that more than 400 stops occurred in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx last year, resulting in only 10 confiscated guns. Most residents surveyed said they felt they were victims of profiling based on their race. Police data showed that young Black men represent 25.6 percent of the NYPD stops but only 1.9 percent of the city’s population. The same goes for young Latino men, who make up 16 percent of the NYPD’s stops but only 2.8 percent of the city’s population.

Some of the Bronx residents’ memories were fresh, and raw. Louis Soltren said he was sitting outside his Mott Haven apartment building one evening, dressed in a suit, drinking a Gatorade, taking a rest in the open air after a long day of work. That’s when a police officer approached him.

I pulled out my ID,” Soltren remembered. “The guy actually refused to see my ID. Instead of treating me like a human being, he treated me like an animal.

The officer ordered Soltren to take off his shoes and place his hands against the wall of his apartment building.

I look way different than what certain drug dealers look like,” said Soltren, a 31-year-old Spanish and Italian resident of the Bronx. “I still fall in that category. The way I see it is because of my Hispanic race.”

The New York Civil Liberties Union estimates that police stopped on average about 1,900 people per day in 2011. The policy allows an officer to stop a person for a variety reasons, including walking suspiciously or having a suspicious bulge. The data shows that 88 percent of those stopped were not charged with anything.

Police records show that in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx, where Soltren has lived for 24 years, officers stopped and frisked residents 17,690  times – the fourth highest number in New York City.

Over half of the survey participants said they had been stopped. One-third of them admitted it happened more than once.

“One-hundred-one times I have been stopped by cops,” said Joys Reid, 53, a life-long Hunts Point resident, standing across the street from his apartment on Hoe avenue. “Everyday we get picked up for nothing.”

Of those interviewed, 77 percent said they opposed the practice.

“Stop and frisk I don’t think is going to stop anything because it hasn’t,” said Terrence Wilkerson, 36, a Highbridge resident for 30 years.

“Stop and frisk is borderline racism,” Wilkerson added.

The Bronx Ink poll reflects a greater trend among Black and Hispanic residents. According to a Quinnipiac University survey, 69 percent of Black voters and 53 percent of Hispanic voters disapproved of stop and frisk. In New York City overall, registered voters are split on the policy: 50 percent against, 45 percent for, and 5 percent undecided.

Only five of the people we spoke to supported the policy, two of whom were Hispanic.“I think it’s great. It’s extremely important,” said Robert Flores, 45, a Fordham resident. “I know a lot of people are against it but I feel that it needs to happen. Within this community, we are the only people robbing each other.”

Overwhelmingly, those surveyed said more positive police involvement in their community would prevent unnecessary stops. “If they see the same people everyday, they should know the community,” Peter Lorenzi, 19, a criminal justice major at Berkeley College said. “They should know people around them.”

Click on photos to hear their stories.


Additional reporting by Ana Ionova, Andrew Freedman, Annaliese Wiederspahn, Coleen Jose, Jan Hendrik Hinzel, Jika González, Kenny Suleimanagich, Margaret Badore, Natasha Lindstrom, Sadef A. Kully, Selase Kove-Seyram, Sonia Paul, Valentine Pasquesoone, Vidur Malik and Yi Du.


Posted in Bronx Neighborhoods, Crime, Featured, Morrisania, Multimedia, North Central Bronx, Northwest Bronx, Sizing up Stop and Frisk, Southern Bronx, Special Reports2 Comments

BronxInk at Paseo

Posted in Bronx Neighborhoods, Culture, Featured, Multimedia, Slideshows, Southern Bronx, Video0 Comments

Paseo: Dancing Along the South Bronx Culture Trail

Dancing in the Streets from Adam Perez on Vimeo.

Arthur Aviles is a professional dancer, who often performs center stage at venues like the Bronx Academy Arts and Dance.

But on one cloudy Wednesday morning in Hunts Point, the muscular modern dancer could be found rehearsing on the ledge above the door of an abandoned shop in the historical district of Longwood.

Fifty feet below on Beck Street, choreographer Joanna Haigood directed the Bronx native’s moves, as a Latin version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” blasted from a boom box on the sidewalk.

At one moment, Haigood told Aviles to push off the wall and lean off the ledge.  She drew two concurrent circles in the air, demonstrating how he could use the space around him.

Then the San Francisco-based choreographer lunged up the fence, grabbed the iron-clad bars that cover the cement-filled windows and pulled herself onto the awning to demonstrate.

“It’s different from the stage,” Haigood said sitting next to Aviles overlooking the street. “It’s a lot smaller and you need more control.”

Local artist Arthur Aviles co-founded BAAD! The Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance  JAN HENDRIK HINZEL/ Bronxink

Both Avives and Haigood are some of the artists involved in Saturday’s “Paseo,” an interactive South Bronx culture trail designed for a roving audience to celebrate the rich cultural history of the Hunts Point and Longwood sections of the Bronx.

“I think the older people who live here are aware of the cultural richness of the place,” said Aviva Davidson, organizer of Paseo and executive director of Dancing in the Streets, an organization that promotes the Bronx’s dance history. “A lot of the younger people or people who just recently moved here don’t know much about it.”

Paseo is a part of The South Bronx Culture Trail’s two-year initiative organized by Dancing in the Streets and Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education to highlight historical locations in the community. The South Bronx Culture Trail, which is mainly financed by the Rockefeller Foundation’s NYC Cultural Innovation fund, will link known and lesser-known places in the Bronx where some of the borough’s well known artists got their start.

More than 80 dancers, musicians, poets, and actors, including more than 30 community members of all ages are expected to participate in the various live reenactments of historical scenes from the South Bronx that took place between 1945 and 1970.

Audience members are expected to see performances on fire escapes, alleys, bodegas, laundromats, and beauty salons over the span of 11 blocks from Casita Maria through Intervale Avenue and Beck Street, ending at the playground at P.S. 52.

Bronx Hall of Fame inductee and multi-Grammy nominee Bobby Sanabria coordinated all the music performances for Paseo, tracing back the community’s musical history from Salsa and Latin Jazz. From Arsenio Rodriguez, one of the founders of Salsa and Cuban Jazz to “The Last Mambo” King Orlando Marin.

Haigood, whose work focuses on site-specific dances, crafted the dance pieces during her multiple walks through Hunts Point and Longwood and discussions with many current and former residents.

“The purpose of the piece is to expose people who are not from the community to the richness of this area,” Haigood said.

“There’s a tremendous amount of incredible energy here,”Haigood said. “Some of the most extraordinary artists have grown up here and they have invented and created forms of music and dance that have been practiced all over the world.”

Joanna Haigood incorporates local residents into her performances, building on her 32-year dance career. ADAM PEREZ/ Bronx Ink

The event will begin at Casita Maria, 928 Simpson St. at 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 6, 2012.  Players from the band, LosPleneros de La 21 will lead participants through Hunts Point and Longwood’s main streets and will end at 5:30 p.m. at P.S. 52. There a dance party will be held, led by Sanabria’s nine-piece ensemble, Ascension.  Admission is free. The audience can join the Paseo at any point along the route.

The Bronx Ink staff will be live-tweeting the event with the hashtag #paseo.


Posted in Bronx Neighborhoods, Culture, Multimedia, Slideshows, Southern Bronx0 Comments


The Bronx Borough President tried for nearly a year to cajole dog owners to clean up after their pets.

He held a joint press conference last October with the city’s sanitation commissioner. He bumped up the number of enforcement agents, and warned “pooper traitors” that fines would be $250.

The Majora Carter Group offers Hunts Points residents free signs that they can post outside their homes. ADAM PEREZ/BronxInk

Still, the New York Daily News reported in March that summonses for failing to clean up were down by 28 percent, while the streets were as filthy as ever.

And Bronx residents have decided to try to take matters into their own hands. “Limpialo!” or “Pick it Up!” a grassroots initiative organized by residents and the Majora Carter Group was launched in February. It aims to use peer pressure where government enforcement has failed.

“Most of the folks around here have a difficult relationship with the police and government telling them what to do,” said James Chase, an advocate at the Majora Carter Group who helped spearhead Limpialo!

Chase’s solution was to take a neighborly approach. He designed a sign and posted it along Hunts Point Avenue and neighboring streets. The bright yellow sign has an image of a dog squatting with simple written message: Pick it up!

“These are your neighbors asking you to do something, obviously they are not going to fine you,” Chase added. “You depend on them and they depend on you.”

Some residents on Faile Street have resorted to make-shift signs warning dog walkers. ADAM PEREZ/BronxInk


Posted in Bronx Neighborhoods, Multimedia, Southern Bronx0 Comments

Hunts Point baby shooter arrested

Police arrested a man for gunplay that grazed a 2-month-old boy in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx, Friday, according the New York Daily News

The gunman, who broke his arm trying to escape, was detained at the Bronx hospital. 

Posted in Newswire0 Comments

Hunts Point Produce Market will stay, for now

The Hunts Point Produce Market will stay in the community, according to The New York Times.

The Hunts Point Terminal Produce Market, which employs over 3,500 people, threatened to move to New Jersey. But with the approval of new funds from the Bloomberg Administration, they are “…committed as ever to keeping the Hunts Point Terminal produce market in the Bronx, where it belongs,” said Benjamin Branham, a spokesman for the Economic Development Corporation

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor Andrew Cuomo approved $25 million in federal funds for redevelopment, Tuesday.




Posted in Newswire0 Comments