Park Slope Residents and Police Clash Over Reports; Safe Walk Program Starts Tonight

Police sketches of the suspect(s)
Police sketches of the suspect(s)

Park Slope residents think that police came close to catching one of the suspects in the recent string of Brooklyn sex attacks in the early hours of Wednesday morning, but the man gave them the slip. According to the Brooklyn Paper, residents say cops searched 13th Street at 1 a.m. on Wednesday morning and gave chase to a man who escaped towards 8th Avenue; they're assuming it was one of the suspects, though the police say the incident wasn't related. An officer at DCPI just confirmed to us that the incident isn't thought to have anything to do with the sex attacks.

An hour later that same night, a witness says he or she saw two white men approach a Hispanic man on Sixth Avenue and 18th Street, yell at him, and beat him up, possibly in an act of wannabe vigilantism (all descriptions of the attacker(s) indicate that he's Hispanic). Per the Brooklyn Paper, the witness called 911 and the cops took the man away.

DCPI just told us that that incident doesn't have anything to do with the attacks either. And the 72nd Precinct reportedly says that the man was drunk and was taken to a hospital, and that the case is closed.

The two incidents, with their conflicting citizen and police reports, illustrate the atmosphere of fear and tension in Park Slope right now. The most recent attack was September 21st, when a woman was groped from behind on Prospect Avenue shortly after 9 p.m. As we saw at the Take Back Our Streets rally that week, people are afraid and very fed up with the perceived lack of an appropriate police response.

As for what's currently being done: on Tuesday night, neighbors and local council members attended a Community Board 7 public safety meeting to discuss the issues and the police response. Police said that they've set up a mobile command post at Fifth Avenue and Prospect Avenue and that they've put 30 officers on patrol every evening in the section of the neighborhood bounded by 15th and 30th Streets and Fourth and Seventh Avenues.

And we've just received word that Safe Slope, the community group that sprung up in response to the attacks, is piloting their Safe Walk program tonight, tomorrow night and Saturday night from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. The initiative will provide free walks home for women and LGBTQ-identified people only in the area between 9th and 30th Streets and between 2nd and 8th Avenues.

To arrange a walk home, call Safe Slope at 347-709-8852 ahead of time and tell them where to meet you. You can also call if you're in the neighborhood and need a walk immediately. Safe Walk will also try to post people at subway stations to offer walks home to people getting off the subway.

[rgray@villagevoice.com] [@_rosiegray]

Go to Runnin' Scared for more Voice news coverage.


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