Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Gentrification Policing in Park Slope- The Trauma of Brittany Rowley

Brittany Rowley, who claims she was tackled, cursed out and roughed up by police after an alleged shoplifting incident at a store in Park Slope, attends the girls High School, St. Saviour's right across the street from my house. Perhaps a third, possibly half of the students at St Saviour's are Black, yet virtually none of them live in Park Slope which has undergone a vast change in economic and racial composition in the last twenty years. The block on which I live, which was once multiracial ( Donald Byrd owned a brownstone half a block down) now has NO Black and Latino families, and only a small number of Black and Latino residents, and the same is true of most of the surrounding blocks including the ones adjoining the store which leveled the shoplifting accusation. This basically means that the neighborhood only has a significant of Black and Latino young people during the day, when the come in to attend local schools, particularly St. Saviour's and the schools in what was one John Jay HS. Given that dynamic, how the police dealt with those two young women- which has NEVER happened to any white kids I know who live in Park Slope over the last thirty years, even those who got in trouble- reflects a perception of young Blacks and Latinos as outsiders in a gentrifying neighborhood. If they thought they were local residents, with educated and wealthy parents, they would have handled the incident entirely differently. They might have run after the young women, but they would never have tackled them, cursed them out and threatened them. What we have here, in my opinion, is GENTRIFICATION POLICING, a double standard for how you deal with young people from the neighborhood, and how you deal with those who are seen as outsiders and potential threats to the neighborhood. Unfortunately, the marker of outsider status for the police was racial, leading them to traumatize a young Black woman who had done nothing wrong. All I can say is one thing. If this is good police work, why does it never happen to white people? As someone who loves seeing all the bright young women, half women of color attending the school across the street, and welcoming so many students from that school to Fordham, I am sick about this, just sick


mikey said...

According to the Daily News, "the store manager identified her as the suspect" and they had to go to the security tape to get her off. How about a boycott of the Rivet "boutique", which is just as guilty of profiling as the cops?

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