NEW YORK—Following three nights of social unrest in East Flatbush, Council Member Jumaane Williams called for outside influences to leave and make way for a cooling off period between the police and the community.
“We need both sides to be responsible and stand down,” Williams said at a press conference in East Flatbush on Thursday.
On Wednesday night, outsiders—some believed to be with the Occupy movement—joined a community march down Church Avenue to protest the death of 16-year-old Kimani “Kiki” Gray who was shot by undercover NYPD officers on Saturday night. The march on Wednesday night grew from a peaceful protest, to a disturbance, resulting in 45 arrests, and one injured police officer, according to Williams.
Williams said many in the community were unaware that if they are on parole, an arrest at a protest could revoke that parole and jeopardize their future.
“Where will you be then?” Williams asked of the outsiders, whom he refused to identify.
Williams said he understood why people wanted to come help, but urged them to let leaders from the community lead the way.
Pastor Gil Monrose, who helped Williams quell the disturbance on Monday night, said, “This community is not short of leadership. We don’t need anyone from Manhattan to come and tell us what to do.”
Monrose said the sentiment was felt throughout the community. “If you are going to come into our community, please honor what we want,” Monrose said.
Shanduke McPhatter, founder of Gangstas Making Astronomical Community Changes (GMACC), spoke at the press conference. He shared his story of growing up in the Bloods gang in Brooklyn, recruiting youth to join in the violence. He does not actively participate in the Bloods now, and is trying to be a more positive member of the community.
“Today I recruit the youth to do something different,” McPhatter said. He urged the youth who have become angry over Gray’s killing to not be exploited by the anger. “That doesn’t get us the answers we need.”
He called on youth to “find the group leaders and voice your opinion.”
Williams said he was not telling youth to be silent, but to speak out in more productive ways. “We want our young people to stay angry, but to channel that anger,” he said.
Crystal Davis, whose sister, Shantel Davis, was shot by NYPD officers nine months earlier, said: “We are angry, but at the same time, we cannot tear up our community.”
She invited those wishing for change to attend a meeting on March 18 at 7 p.m. at 39th and Church St. to present ideas for change in the community.