Brower Park in Crown Heights is ground zero for what the Daily News is calling a "turf battle" between residents and roving bands of teenagers who "skip school, smoke pot, and drink alcohol during the day." 13 people have been shot in the area this month, including Denise Gay, who was killed. While an NYPD spokesperson claims they "will do whatever it takes until they stop shooting," they acknowledge that "these kids are trying to take over the park. It's a problem."
"You don't feel safe; it's unfair," says the 33-year-old mother of a 21-month-old son. They live across the street from Brower Park but she has to "travel to Brooklyn Heights or downtown when I want to take him to the park." Another mother of a 12-year-old said, "I wouldn't let her come here by herself. A lot of kids smoke weed on the benches. A lot of shootings around here. Cops come through here a lot."
The paper notes that the area has been "attracting a diverse crowd as Crown Heights becomes whiter and wealthier," supposedly evidenced by Shakespeare stagings in the park and a real estate ploy to rechristen the area along Washington Avenue "Pro-Cro." Videos of the "Brower Gang" rapping and hanging around the park can be seen on YouTube, as well as a few grainy fistfights. A reporter for the Daily News asked a group gathered at Brower Park recently if any were members of the "Brower Park Boys," and "laughter erupted." "Did the cops send you?" one asked.
A 74-year-old woman who has lived nearby for 15 years believes that Bloomberg's to blame: "There was law and order when Giuliani was around. We didn't have this foolishness…They are getting too bold." Indeed, at least when Giuliani was around, the trains ran on time.