Police Officers stop a civilian at Myrtle-Broadway two weeks after a 20-year-old farebeater was sent to the hospital by a violent encounter with an officer at the same station.

Police Officers stop a civilian at Myrtle-Broadway two weeks after a 20-year-old farebeater was sent to the hospital by a violent encounter with an officer at the same station. Photo by Emilie Ruscoe for Bushwick Daily.

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014- A grand jury decision is expected to be announced regarding the death of Staten Island resident, NYC Parks Department horticulturist and father of six Eric Garner, possibly as early as today and likely within the week, and the city, especially the NYPD, is preparing for strong reactions to the news. Bushwick Daily reached out to members of the community to talk about the current political climate and to get a sense of how the Eric Garner decision will be taken in the neighborhood.

[Update: News broke yesterday that the officer in the Garner case won’t be indicted.]


Frank, a Brooklyn native who’s lived off the JMZ for 46 years, reflected on the root cause of incidents like the Garner case and the August death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, noting that occurrences like this “are going on a lot. Maybe the training that they’re giving the officers is not–how you say, conducive? It shouldn’t happen, but it’s happening, and it’s happening more often than ever. When I was growing up it wasn’t like it is now, and it’s gotten worse and worse and it seems like it’s an everyday occurrence that an officer of the law is either shooting someone or strangling someone or beating someone. I don’t know what it’s going to take to stop it.”

Another gentleman declined to comment for the piece, beyond noting that with cases like these, “for the record–it sucks.”

Samuel Saldaña, the pastor of Iglesia de Dias Pentecostal M.I. on Myrtle Avenue and a Bushwick resident for 17 years, had this to say: “People should be treated right, and the way the police department is doing this is too strong, they’ve got to be more cool and careful with people. It’s very hard, because [when civilians are hurt] it’s going to hurt the whole country, it’s gonna hurt whole families, it’s gonna hurt everybody. If it happens today to somebody, you never know when it’s going to happen to somebody in your family. That’s what I think, it that it’s real, real bad. And the way the country feels about it? It’s a reaction of the people, because somehow, some way, we have to let the government know what’s going on and how we feel about it.” At the same time, Saldaña acknowledged that the police presence at Myrtle-Broadway has made a difference in crime rates around his church and home: “Right on the corner [of Myrtle-Broadway] there’s still a little bit of trouble but now it’s getting better because the police department is always checking the corner over there. At Finest Nails [across the street from Iglesia Pentecostal de Dias M.I.], they killed a man about a month ago, right there. The police were in there the whole week. That’s how they do it.”

Within days of the Grand Jury decision in Ferguson, Brooklyn-based visual artist Danielle Mastrion completed a portrait of Michael Brown on Myrtle Avenue, next to Mr. Kiwi’s grocery near a quote from Mos Def’s song “Mathematics:” “I’m blacker than midnight on Broadway and Myrtle” (For the uninitiated, the song, and the rest Black on Both Sides, the album it’s from, are well worth a listen; released in October of 1999, many of the social issues it addresses remain prevalent). Mastrion’s portrait of Brown includes the short euology “find peace.”

Mural for #MikeBrown goes up in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn,NY #FergusonDecision #MikeBrown pic.twitter.com/Ga2SF7Qup1

— Devin Cobbs (@DevCNYC) November 27, 2014