A Matter Of Competing Rights
Donovan Richards has joined the Rockaway Youth Task Force in hosting an “Occupy the Hood” event at the Ocean Bay Community Center. That is a worthy event, and the group will discuss some vital topics: violence, drugs, unemployment, teenage pregnancy and harassment by police. Richards, who works for City Councilman James Sanders Jr. and plans to run for his seat once he becomes term-limited, has protested police harassment previously. The last march came right after a spate of shootings in which a number of black teens were killed and others were wounded. The term “police harassment” in Far Rockaway is a code for two things: the stop and frisk policy of the police department and the NYCHA policy of arresting visitors to city housing projects for “trespassing” when the police believe those visitors are up to no good. We can understand that people have a right to visit their friends and that people have a right to walk the streets of this city without harassment. We also understand that the majority of those trespassing arrests are made on known drug dealers and gang members who can make living in a NYCHA building something of a living nightmare. And, we understand that the stop and frisk policy takes guns off the street and saves lives – most of those lives are of young black teenagers. Do people have the right to walk the streets without harassment? Of course. Do cops have the right and the duty to take guns off the street, to check if they believe that somebody is carrying a concealed weapon? Of course. Richards can occupy the hood all he wants. His hood will not be safe until black politicians convince black teens that guns are not the answer. And, until cops are given the wherewithal to do their jobs and take guns off the street.