Mass Arrests in Harlem Don't Sit Well With Harlem Residents
- New York 06/06/2014 by Linda Perry (WBAI)

The NYPD with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office arrested men they said were members of three street gangs responsible for violent crimes throughout West Harlem.  The 103 suspected gang members, some of them as young as fifteen years old,  face charges including conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder and gang assault.

The arrests occurred at two Harlem public housing complexes, General Grant and Manhattanville Houses. This didn’t sit well with some Harlem residents like Will Reese.

“What happened on Wednesday morning, 5:30 in the morning, is that an army of police of over 400 police with helicopters, body armor, military style weapons invaded this neighborhood and rounded up and took away over a hundred people. They knocked down doors with battery ramps. They came in here genuinely like a military invasion and you had grandmothers and mothers trying to hide their fifteen year olds, reminiscent of slavery days.

And all of this is done under the umbrella of fighting crime and going after gangs. It’svery much connected with  stop-and-frisk., but the random arrest and criminalization of Black and Latino Youth. They said they arrested people from fifteen to thirty year olds”.

Reese says this can not become the new norm.

“If this system can waste the kind of human potential that exists in these youths and in this community, if they can waste it and criminalize it, if they can arrest it and put them in concrete cages, and can’t find the answers, then they need to get out of the way.” 

Audrey Smith is a Harlem mom with a fifteen year old son. She lives at Grant Houses. Smith says the NYPD destroyed the neighborhood when they came in.

“They also put a fear that people don’t want to come outside, you know just to go to the store.  We have to walk outside, you have to enjoy your community. You have to pick up your child. You might be coming from work. What is this? What’s going on? “     

“It’s Harlem, it’s not the Upper East Side, so here in Harlem, the police,  they take a strong stance”

Raymond Harris has been living in Harlem most of his life.

“This neighborhood has been gang related for like since forever, but I do feel that the police do overstep their boundaries with a lot of stuff man.  And you know this is New York City. The police can kill and get away with it, you know. I’ve been stopped in this neighborhood since f’ing ’93, since I was thirteen and you know the police look down on you in this neighborhood

For these residents, the way the police conducted mass arrests is not community policing. It's not the way to rebuild trust and ties within the community.

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