State Senator Montgomery's warning against Proposal 1, a fed-up resident and the issue of police responsiveness made for a heated meeting.
This week, Community Board 16, serving the residents of Brownsville, came together for its monthly meeting discussing issues such as the New York State Constitution, community-police relations and the community's crime rate.
The Community Board commenced its meeting on a somber note with a prayer for the victims of the hurricane and earthquake disasters in the Caribbean and Mexico.
After opening remarks from the board's Chair Genese Morgan, State Senator Velmanette Montgomery took to the floor. She announced she will be voting against Proposal 1 on Election Day in November, which proposes a constitutional convention, a prerequisite to develop changes to the state constitution.
Montgomery expressed her concern that a potential convention will be flooded with "dark money." She believed the convention will give millionaires the opportunity to come into the community and overturn constitutional rights aimed to protect the residents of Brownsville. The senator explained that neither citizens nor community board members will be able to vote on issues brought up at the constitutional convention. Instead, there would be three elected delegates to represent Brownsville.
Meanwhile, in the facility lobby, community members geared up to discuss their grievances regarding crime, their relationships with the police and emergency services. The frustration between Brownsville residents and emergency responders has been documented at the last board meeting in May.
Cleopatra Brown, a Brownsville resident, described her struggles in simply obtaining an incident report from the neighborhood's 73rd precinct.
"It shouldn't have to take a 311 call to be able to obtain an incident report," Brown said to 73rd Precinct Deputy Inspector Rafael Mascol who was in attendance. Mascol encouraged her and the crowd to continue to report suspicious activity, but he was met with similar complaints about non-responsiveness from other attendees.
Another resident, Dorothea Perry, reached her apparent boiling point. Calmly, Perry began to describe her issue with a street cart vendor who allegedly is selling food in the neighborhood under unsanitary conditions. She claimed that she contacted the authorities on numerous occasions to no avail. Her tone suddenly grew hostile as she unraveled a poster pasted with photos of the woman she accused of infiltrating Brownsville to serve unsafe food to the children of community.
Perry confronted the woman and, so she claimed, was met with threats and racial epithets. Perry's issue was dismissed after her tirade and she left the premises shortly after.
Up next was Deputy Mascol who reported that homicide has gone down by 45%, yet burglaries have gone slightly up. Despite the Brownsville residents' concerns with regards to police-community relations, Mascol stated that only with the community's cooperation the 73rd precinct can do their best to prevent crime.
Civilian Complaint Review Board Representative (CCRB) Timothy Harrell spoke next and encouraged Brownsville residents to report incidents of abusive authority and police brutality. Harrell said that the CCRB's objective is to investigate police misconduct no matter how benign or out of their jurisdiction it may seem.
"If 'Ms. Benita' sits in her house and gossips, and she calls and files a complaint everyday, we're going to investigate, everyday," said Harell. "If Ms. Benita calls and her complaint is not relevant to what we do, we are not going to hang up the phone on her."
In conclusion of the board meeting, Chairperson Morgan said she would immediately like to see more people to commit their time to Brownsville, emphasizing that the community's involvement can affect change.
"This will better help us ask better questions in the earlier stages of projects in our community and better negotiate the benefits for the community."
Community Board 16 meets the fourth Tuesday of each month at 7:00pm. The next planned meeting will take place on Tuesday, October 24.