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Dear Clinton Avenue Residents…

June 25, 2008

            There’s been an acussatory email circulating from the Clinton Avenue Residents(whoever they are) that has accused the young men who congregate in front of 400 clinton ave. of “running an organized drug operation”. The email goes on to speculate that 400 clinton ave. is a “distribtution center” of drugs and that they hate to see the residents of clinton avenue terrorized by this “gang” . As one of the young men who sometimes congregates in front of this building I find these accusations atrocious, unfounded, dividing and dare I say racist. There are a lot of us longtime residents who grew up with each other from the time we were knee high to a grasshopper. We like to see each other kick it and converse IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD(you know how urban residents USED to do!). After being harassed out of the park by police, disallowed to hang on the corner, is there anywhere longtime residents who are black males can chill in the hood without the assumption of doing something illegal?! Now I’m not going to lie, the only thing in the email that had a ring of the truth was about smelling marijuana. Yes a few guys puff some herb…So what?!  They aren’t harming or bothering anyone. And think about it, if you want the police on a marijuana crusade(I suggest reading the book of the same title about the NYPD) then that stops police from paying attention to more serious crimes…you know like muggings!

            It’s very dangerous and irresponsible to circulate something like that without concrete evidence to back your claims. I also find it curious that this email is from clinton avenue residents when almost ALL of us that hang in front of the building are working men that were BORN and BRED on clinton ave., the older residents of clinton ave. watched us grow up and most of our parents remain on clinton ave. It is accusations like these that create the divide between new residents and us oldtimers.  WE love and have loved this hood before most of you even knew where it was located. WE are a family…We are the fathers of the hood, the sons of the hood, the brothers of the hood…WE are a community and WE will NOT take these accusations lightly. WE will be seeking a sitdown with a local prominent minister in the community as well as local elected officials. WE refuse to be treated like outsiders or “terrorists of clinton ave residents” in our own neighborhood.

48 Comments leave one →
  1. Lasonic TRC-931 permalink
    June 25, 2008 8:40 pm

    BRAVO! Take it to those yuppies!!! Some ppl love to talk out of the side of their neck, especially given the anonymous nature of the internet… I’ve read the comments from ‘newer residents’ given to launching false or unproven accusations and quite frankly I’m sick of it especially given their hypocritical liberal attitudes… Keep it up!

  2. la duchessa permalink
    June 25, 2008 9:18 pm

    Whoa. I’m really sorry to hear about this… that is total BS.

    And I agree about the pot smoking point. Choose your battles, people…

  3. hapbklyn permalink
    June 25, 2008 10:08 pm

    I don’t live on Clinton Ave., but I hear you. Not to take up for people making negative assumptions and accusations based on bias, but in regard to the pot smoking – we are always told that minor drug use creates a climate that can cause more extreme drug use and abuse, that in turn can cause people to begin to become aggressive and involved in criminal activity to support their habit. You may call this a bit extreme, but in order to enter into a dialogue with someone, as much as you believe them to be wrong, you have to try and see where they might be coming from.. There has to be some understanding on both sides. Brother, I know you’ve been there your whole life, but these folks are moving in and they don’t seem to be leaving anytime soon. You have to take their fears seriously, as unfounded as you believe them to be. I don’t know you, but I am proud of the fact that you are seeking a sit down with a clergy member and the newer members of your ‘hood so that the air can be cleared. To be honest, I personally don’t like large groups of teens and young men of any color just hanging out. The longer they hang out, the louder they talk, and they think less and less about remembering to respect others . The group mentality can cause people to act in ways they wouldn’t if they were alone. This may not apply to your group, but you need to understand that many people, myself included (I am a Black woman), have had very bad experiences stemming from a group of guys “just hanging out.” Maybe one of the main people attacking you has had a bad experience. When you have your meeting, don’t just speak to the fact that you and yours are insulted, speak to the fears of the newcommers and find common ground. You’ll make much more progress thay way. Good luck!

  4. bknesto permalink
    June 25, 2008 10:35 pm


    Your not comfortable w/ large groups of people congregating…I am. This is an urban center, I dont understand how anyone can just expect to hear crickets all night..especially in the summer. And your experience should not be applied to us, WE didnt do anything to you or anyone else in the hood. The email wasn’t about minor things like noise levels, it accused a group of people of basically runninig a drug enteprise, which is an outright lie! Just because ppl have hang ups about groups or groups of black men in particular does not mean WE should be subjected to these false, defamatory accusations. Yes, I know new ppl are moving in..I have no problem w/ thatbut does that mean all of us that lived here have to change our whole way of being to accomodate new folks?! Especially when our way of being impacts no one in e negative way? Who is that fair to? Just because ppl aren’t comfortable with us, should hideaway like a hermit and not be out in the hood we love, our kids love, our parents love? Yeah you said they aren’t going any where…WELL GUESS WHAT?! wE AREN’T EITHER!!

  5. June 25, 2008 10:55 pm

    hapbklyn has a point about people just hanging out. A person living in an urban environment has no right to expect crickets outside their window, but then again, they shouldn’t be subjected to a block party every night either.

    I would suggest that, like hapbklyn suggested, when you go to the sit-down you take some time beforehand to look at this issue from as many different perspectives as you can first. Try to walk a mile in the other guys’ shoes. Be prepared to listen to what they have to say and find some common ground. From the sound of things, the people behind the email need a little education, but if you want them to listen to you, you have to listen to them & see where they’re coming from.

    They’re new. You want them to recognize you as a friendly face in your neighborhood, not as a bad guy. Here’s hoping you get off on the right foot. It’s gonna be a long damn summer. No need to make it feel longer with a feud.

  6. bknesto permalink
    June 25, 2008 11:03 pm


    Why would they recognize me as anything else when I’ve done nothing to them but exist? I’m not suprised to see ppl empathetic to their point of view and not the point of view of a hard working, family black man accused of being part of a drug enterprise, a drug gang and terrorizing residents of the neighborhood for merely hanging in it. And were not talking every night and we’re not talking 20-30 ppl…so no it’s not a block party every night.

  7. Skeets McDonald permalink
    June 26, 2008 12:38 am

    Hmm, I was raised in an environment where a street with people on it was considered a safe street. I still feel that way. It’s too bad that others don’t see the benefits that come from people being social and interactive on our urban streets.

  8. sam permalink
    June 26, 2008 2:02 am

    BKNESTO–I live on your block and have met and talked to you on the sidewalk. I know that you guys are not a drug gang and I am sorry to hear about this email. But I also agree that in the interest of the greater good of the community you should try to hear what other people have to say, even if you think its unreasonable and paranoid. We are all living side by side in this neighborhood and if your neighbors have the wrong impression of something the most effective way of addressing it would be to sit down and talking about it, that is if you know who it is that wrote the email and know who to talk to. I sympathize with your position and hope that this thing works out mellowly.

  9. drkman permalink
    June 26, 2008 3:20 am

    Wow, interesting. It is good that you are going to sit down and get this taken care of. When people move into a neighborhood they need to understand the culture of the neighborhood and not believe the media hype that they may have been taught to believe. They definitely should not have sent an anonymous email making allegations that a group of black men are running a drug enterprise just because a couple of people are hanging out and talking with each other. Hope this gets taken care off and the Clinton Hill residents who circulated the email need to chill and enjoy the neighborhood without trying to make it into some kind of surburbia.

  10. June 26, 2008 3:21 am

    I am a white male, age 31, who has lived here on Clinton Ave for 10 years. I am humble enough to know that’s not a long time for this neighborhood, but it’s seen some changes in that time even still. Part of what attracted me to the neighborhood was that it was that – a neighborhood. With neighbors. I did not expect to be invited right away, and it did bother me that there were a small number of random folks who saw me as an element of the deterioration of the community. However, most of the people I have met and become acquainted with are some of the most genuine people I’ve ever known. Everybody seems to have their thing going on, and also knows that you’ve got yours too, so few feel the need to make assumptions based on color. That is society evolving! I firmly believe that there is recently a contingent of let’s say more affluent people (of many colors) finding their opportunity homes in our hood. These folks I think feel a certain amount of entitlement to their imagined living standard based on how high the entry fee was. This is nothing new, though, it’s just important to realize that the “group” is most likely a couple or very few people – totally not representative of the community as a whole. It has become, in this information age, very very easy to send out a missive with broad strokes of opinion and hiding behind words on paper, or on a screen. I’m not advocating ignoring it, I just feel that it does our discussion benefit by putting these complaints in context. People don’t like ruckus, annoyance, bad behavior, etc. no matter what race they are. Most folks out of fear refuse to get to know their neighbors and if they have problems, call 311 or put up flyers or send emails or whatever. Any efforts, including yours BK, should be applauded as furthering the means of communication among our community members. Most situations can be resolved just by learning about who we are, what we want from life, and minor quibbles can easily be defused before they become major battles. For me, personally, I live in a brownstone that is often an easy place for folks to gather and congregate. I am fine with this except for certain things. Since my apartment is a ground floor with street window, the noise would bother me if after 11PM weeknights and 2AM weekends. Also, as a non-smoker, I have problems with second hand smoke blowing in my window. It’s an easy fix – just sticking my head out the window and asking usually sorts it out, because most people will comply if any behavior of their group bothers another neighbor. It’s only people’s built in fears and prejudices that prevents them from the old fashioned direct-ness of a “say hey, can y’all keep it down?” I understand that there is a huge amount of the story of the many injustices affronted to black culture living in this country that I can never come close to relating to or understanding – I have respect for that and sympathize with people. I realize it is unfair to be targeted in this way because you are immediately put on the defensive for something you didn’t do! All anybody needs is the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they should not jump to conclusions about what’s going on, but maybe there are some behaviors that just make folks feel uneasy and unsafe. Talking about it is really the only even-handed solution. Good luck neighbors – I hope to see you out there having fun this summer…

  11. June 26, 2008 7:46 am

    the colonizer always spreads false and negative information about the natives. you all expect to much from folks. we all watch a bit too much t.v. and are under the impression that white folks are obligated to shine there light of approval upon the indigenous folk whose neighborhood they have settled in. fuck them and what they think. if there comments reach ears of harm, then brothers better be equipped to fully those unfounded accusations. fuck what weakness thinks!!!! We need to use these forums to build whats left. fuck the new colonizers. i love a battle field with a declared enemy who shows his face besides some weak and wicked bio genetic mutant from nebraska who hides his hideous jealousy and hatred of black male strength on a freaking blog. PENIS ENVY I TELL YOU!!!! FEAR DRIVES THE MINDS AND AFFAIRS of cowards. And can we stop calling these internet dweebs Racist.We give the weak and wicked way to much life. lets practice not looking at or paying any attention to them. just do us like we been doing. FUCK ALL PILGRIMS!!!! Ahk-Med a true CLINTON AVENUE REPRESENTER!!!!! We aint going no Where…..

  12. kyle permalink
    June 26, 2008 1:19 pm

    I’m a white guy and have been here for about 6 years. I live on Clinton ave., walk up and down it all the time and I don’t have a clue what building you’re talking about.

    As for the mj it should be legal but just be respectful of non-smokers and keep it away from the kids.

  13. crazypanys permalink
    June 26, 2008 4:37 pm

    Hmm…me and a large group of my friends like to congregate in front of a building for hours at end and some of blatantly smoke an illegal substance in full view of others in broad daylight. SHOCKINGLY some people seem to think we may be up to no good or actively engaged in selling the illegal substance that we SMOKE IN PUBLIC. ALSO SHOCKINGLY some people may be intimidated at the prospect of approaching a large group of young men ACTIVELY and BLATANTLY engaging in illegal activity.

    Do make sure you tell your pastors and community leaders that you and your friends were just hanging around smoking weed (not all of you just some). Let us know what your pastor says about that.

    Marijuana is illegal – I think its stupid that it is, but there you have it. Do something illegal in full view of others and you can’t be all offended if people think you’re engaged in illegal activities.

  14. bknesto permalink
    June 26, 2008 5:25 pm

    The email was not merely about some guys smoking weed, if it was this post would not have been made. The email FALSELY accuses a group of ppl of being a DRUG GANG, RUNNING A DRUG DISTRIBUTION OPERATION, TERRORIZING THE NEIGHORHOOD RESIDENTS OF CLINTON AVE. How does someone make the correlation of smelling some pot to a group of people being a menacing drug gang of terror? Thats some serious allegations to make based solely on the smell of smoke. Everyone seems to be missing that point…maybe selectively. Not to mention that this fallacy of an email was sent out to my kids school principal, pta, politicians and lord knows who else.

  15. June 26, 2008 5:26 pm

    This makes me sad.

    BK, much respect to you and yours for addressing this mess head-on. And I know how angering and hurtful this kind of BS can be, especially in your OWN turf.

    Meeting with neighborhood leaders and officials is a strong, positive approach to such an unwarranted and mean-spirited attack.

    Good luck. Keep us updated.

  16. kyle permalink
    June 26, 2008 5:46 pm

    Can you post the actual email?

  17. bknesto permalink
    June 26, 2008 5:57 pm

    the email wasnt sent to me. I was handed a printout of the email. All I know is the email originated from and was forwarded to the principal, pta groups in ps11 who then forwarded this fallacy of an email to DOE officials. Everyone’s quick to tell me me to put myself in the other sides shoes while negelcting to stand in my size 10 and a halves.

  18. crazypanys permalink
    June 26, 2008 7:02 pm


    I did not know that the email was sent out to the school and other agencies – I assumed that the email was sent to one of the local community blogs that consist mostly of people bitching about random things or trading neighborhood gossip. My mistake, I apologize. That being the case I better understand your outrage.

    That said your line of “Now I’m not going to lie, the only thing in the email that had a ring of the truth was about smelling marijuana. Yes a few guys puff some herb…So what?!” does suggest what I was sort of getting at in my post. I don’t think it’s that crazy to think that a lot of people out there would be hesitant to approach a group of guys out smoking weed in public.

    So while I do believe the email writers were out of bounds, esp. w/ the drug dealing enterprise stuff, I can see why they wouldn’t want to approach your group and ask you to quit smoking or move along.

    Question what would happen if someone bothered by the pot-smoking had called the cops and the police showed up and caught a couple of your friends in flagrante w/ you just innocently standing there talking?

  19. ESP permalink
    June 26, 2008 7:22 pm

    So scan & post the print out- if you dont want to “name names” then mark out any names on the email.

    By reading the actual email your readers will better comprehend your reaction
    Have you tried emailing, to try to clarify the situation

    I agree with you that no one should write an accusatory email without proof or at least speaking with some of you guys.

    I also agree with hapbklyn. As a woman if I see a group of young men, some smoking weed and talking loud ( and lets get serious bunch of young guys hanging on the street are usually pretty loud- sorry for the sexism but …) I would not feel comfortable and would cross the street

    I remember walking down lafayette across the street from LAPC in 1986 and a large group of young guys maybe 10-12 of them were walking towards me. I was a little nervous but didnt want to seem stuck up or scared ( so important when you are a 19 yr old) and it was middle of the day. Well we passed each other and one of them grabbed my butt. I turned around to yell and realized maybe that wasnt a good idea .

    You are asking me to put by 7 1/2 size shoe into your much bigger 10 1/2 and I cant do that . Your reaction to a group of guys hanging out on a corner will never be the same as mine … I am positive there are a lot of females with similiar experiences and reactions ( or unfortunately worst expereinces then my very mild expereince)

  20. bknesto permalink
    June 26, 2008 7:27 pm

    Honestly, I think if we remove the herb from the situation, this email still goes out, it even references ppls cars that they bought w/ there HARD EARNED money. And let’s be real puffing some herb doesnt automatically criminalize someone..if it does then there’s A LOT of newcomer criminals in the neighborhood(yeah I see y’all copping ALL THE TIME!)…yes, I know it’s is jaywalking..neither harm anyone. So let’s stop harping on that and diverting from the real issue in this post.

  21. bknesto permalink
    June 26, 2008 7:44 pm

    Wow ppl are really missing it. I’m not asking ppl to stand in my shoes as a man but as a person accused of serious false allegations that is being spread throughout the neighborhood. The scenarios you guys have been through or making up don’t exist in this case. Notice I didn’t state being accused of harassing women or anyone in general. That’s because WE dont engage in those type of things. The blanket generalization does not apply in this case. And the reaction should not be to spewl harsh UNFOUNDED ACCUSATIONS. I also forgot to mention that more than a few of my friends live in the building or have family in the building.

  22. SBK permalink
    June 26, 2008 11:07 pm

    Hey BKNesto…I’m sorry to hear that this has happened to you and that you now have the very unwanted task of having to defend yourself against accusations that don’t seem to be based in reality. It’s not something that anyone wants or needs to deal with in life, especially when it happens in the area that they call home. However, I gotta say this [and this is coming from someone who loves to smoke herb] – to some people out there, smoking weed IS a big deal. To them, it’s not harmless…to some [very naive, very close-minded people], it’s on par with smoking crack. They see or smell people smoking marijuana and they’re instantly up in arms…they associate any and all drug use with much larger crimes such as dealing and “running operations.” I’ve always felt that most people in Brooklyn were a little bit more open-minded about smoking weed, especially when it doesn’t really have any impact on anyone else, but unfortunately, there are people out there who don’t see it this way. They feel that it’s an “issue” that the community needs to be aware of without realizing that the very people they’re targeting are also a part of the same community! It also gives them a platform on which they can throw other accusations that they’re not comfortable with or want changed without reason. And of course, instead of actually speaking to each you and your friends, they send out an anonymous email to various outlets which does nothing but get a whole bunch of other anonymous people up in arms or upset.

    I think there’s also a large number of newcomers to Clinton Hill [and Brooklyn in general] who just don’t know the ways of the borough…they’re just not familiar with it and either can’t be bothered to familiarize or don’t want to. They have very different ideas and expectations of where they live, without realizing that maybe they’re the ones that need to adjust a little. These are the same people who see large groups of people hanging out on the street as threatening and unwelcome and I think it just comes down to not being used to it. They don’t think “Oh, these people probably live here, or have friends who live here and it’s summertime, so why not be outside?” The associate large groups of people with shady activities or disturbances. And to be fair, there is some truth in that, but not all of it. Like some of your others comment posters, I too, am a woman and I know what it’s like to be harassed by a large group of rambunctious men [all races, ages]. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it’s frequent enough for it to be at the forefront of my mind. I also live across the street from a large apartment complex and I really don’t like being woken up at 3AM on a Tuesday night by a rowdy group of 7 or 8 guys just hanging outside their building, screaming and hollering. But I deal with it as best as I can because we all live here and need to at least attempt to get along with each other while judging each other as little as possible. It all comes down to respect…I think that’s something we all can work on if we try.

    And I think this is where you and your friends need to come and try to educate the way these people think. Have a discussion…a dialog….not an argument [and by all means, please don’t mention penis envy in your conversation!]. You’re doing the right thing in reaching out to the community to try to rectify the situation face to face. It’s a shame that these people didn’t have the courtesy to do the same to you and your friends, but this is where you have the opportunity to try to change that. The internet is like one gigantic “cop out” where people can hide behind their fears and a monitor instead of actually having to deal with it. We all know how crowded this city is…meeting each other face to face is bound to happen sooner or later. I just hope that when those chances occur, they’re positive ones and aren’t a repeat of this situation.

    Keep us posted on the outcome of this situation….your voice in the blogworld and the community is a welcome one.

  23. Skeets McDonald permalink
    June 27, 2008 1:31 am

    It just occurred to me but do you actually have proof that there is this “acussatory email circulating from the Clinton Avenue Residents” or is it just an urban legend?

    I think it would be good to post it if it does exist.

  24. bknesto permalink
    June 27, 2008 1:43 am

    Skeets you first comment was a good one. Your second one is insulting to say the least. This is not a game, it is my life. I explained about the email in one of my comments.

  25. June 27, 2008 6:07 pm

    Point is, it’s just NOT cool to make an unfounded accusation, especially when it has the potential to bring severe repercussions. It is, indeed, thoughtless and irresponsible.

  26. June 27, 2008 6:53 pm

    the only good thing that might come of this is that people may finally realize that the inflammatory statements of a narrow-minded group like ‘Clinton Ave Residents’ do not reflect the reality of the situation. i sure would love to see the full original email, not to mention who actually comprises this supposed concerned-citizens group (probably one lone doofus).

  27. June 28, 2008 1:13 am

    wow… thats some BS. Nobody likes the pockets of drug dealers scattered around the area… but does that mean its NOT ok to hang out on the block and relax with your neighbors/friends? Last time I checked, thats how a community becomes a community. More people oughta be hangin out on street corners (long as their not sellin drugs). In fact, next time I walk by there… assuming the “clintonaveresidents” havent gotten to you first… I’ll stop and say hi.

  28. June 30, 2008 2:17 pm

    It’s very sad that this seems to be the normal MO for many of these newcomers. I have read several posts falsly accusing various businesses and people of “drug operations” on the most disgusting forum. Actually seems like the daily norm over there. I really hope those people don’t accurately represent all the newcomers.I don’t think these people realize what a serious thing that is. People need to think about the peoples lives they are affecting before they open their mouths. This type of thing would have never washed for a second in the old hood. It would have been DEALT with and real fast too. Once a business is lied on like that they have grounds for a libelous slander suit. Perhaps the newcomers understand those words. It would be a shame to see people lose their $1.5 million brownstones because of some dumb racist lies they told.

  29. Newbie permalink
    June 30, 2008 8:50 pm


    As a fellow newbie to the neighborhood, I take offense to your generalization that all the “posts falsly accusing various businesses and other people of “drug operations”” have been posted by new people to the neighborhood. First, you have no proof of who posted these accusations nor do you even know for a fact that they are in fact false. Libelous slander works both ways you know.

  30. little Z permalink
    July 1, 2008 6:04 pm

    As a newish CH resident (5+ years), I consider it my duty to take time to understand neighborhood dynamics before jumping to conclusions, and ESPECIALLY before sending letters out. I appreciate people saying “yeah, weed, yeah, wear their (*our*?) shoes for a while, this is our children we’re talking about, etc” but I think it’s shameful that this letter was sent out the way that it was.

    Was I concerned when I first noticed the 400 Clinton scene? Yep, a little bit. I’m male (I appreciate the female perspective feeling a little sketch about approaching that scene), and it didn’t take much effort at all for me to see that these folks were nice and approachable. Personally, I’ve never had a problem, so I never had a reason to approach.

    We live in a fear-mongering society. It’s our responsibility to make some effort before panicking and accusing. Don’t fall into the typical fold, people, we’re better than this!!!

    The good thing about the letter is that it’s sparking some dialog. I love the ‘hood, I enjoy this blog, and hopefully some good will ultimately come out of this.

  31. July 1, 2008 6:27 pm

    newbie I am equally offended by your post. learn about where you are first. no long time neighborhood resident would ever post things like that. how do I know the accusations are false? because I intimately know each and every accused business and location. it is only newcomers who automatically cry drugs whenever they see more than 2 Black people hanging out. might not be all newcomers, but all the people who do that are NEW.

  32. la duchessa permalink
    July 1, 2008 7:14 pm

    there was a story on gothamist last week that made me think of this post, the one about the blogging community taking down the crack house:

    while the obvious difference between these posts is that there actually WAS a crack house in bay ridge the significance and power of words in the blogging community is present in each. it provides a direct relationship between words (cause) and action (effect). while there was a positive outcome in bay ridge it’s not such a positive thing when people are accused of things falsely and then have to deal with the consequences be them legal or economic such as loss of customers and tarnished reputation. it’s one thing to be armed with facts and a mission, it’s another thing to just have a mission.

  33. Newbie permalink
    July 1, 2008 8:44 pm


    Are you sure? Can you say you know EVERY “long-time” resident in the neighborhood? I doubt that highly. I’m not defending what was said – I no doubt know it’s just about as unfounded as your defense of who wrote it – just saying.

  34. July 2, 2008 12:19 am

    newbie, any long time resident KNOWS their hood. you don’t.

  35. July 2, 2008 4:26 pm

    And id like as a young white male who grew up confused as sht with a fro pick falling out of his too straight hair because he was rarely reminded of HIS(MY) minority back then by others and made to feel at home…….wait i lost my train of thinking here, o yea.uummmm,
    id like to say in other words that as a young man grown up right near and at points went to same schools as everyone here that i too ditto everything said. No matter what you were racialy or class back then it may have had its turmoil but it was ours and most didn’t know we even existed behind the WillyBurg Bank Towers shadow. Now all of a sudden i feel like Palestine losing its gaza strip territories to the Israel machine. Some of you may have bettered up stuff here and thier but i dare you too get so cocky as to deny the right of the original to exercise their right to live as they have back in the day any differnt today as they did 20+yrs ago. Cause if you do i myself will be first or second to cry mabye not racism but prejudice. I may self will not stop playing handball at p.s. school courts with my hood rats and our heinkens in a bag!

  36. Sick of YOU permalink
    July 6, 2008 10:07 pm

    I am so tired of all these type of storied that we are seeing far too much of. I also am tired of the Brooklynian site , the most racist site I have ever seen in my entire life outside of Stormfront. From what I read there, and reading this, no wonder the tension is at an all time high. If you are Black, go and post your opinion on Brooklynian and watch what happens. WHO DO THESE PEOPLE THINK THEY ARE???!!! They came and invaded OUR NEIGHBORHOODS and want to try and tell us how to live???!!! WTF kinda crazy shit is that??? Brooklynian is really helping the “newcomers” win friends in Brooklyn. They about to make the tension EXPLODE. White people put that website in check as it is making life much less safe for all of you due to the actions and views of what i hope is just a few who represent themselves as “the authoritative site on Brooklyn”. GTFOH!!

  37. July 15, 2008 6:39 am

    no neighborhood is “owned” by anyone. they’re all part of New York City where people come and go and places change. trying to make claims to places and say who was where first is not going to get you very far. didn’t you get the newsflash? all of these neighborhoods have changed many times over throughout their history. sorry to throw some truth out there but it needs to be said sometimes.

  38. stop the drug war permalink
    July 19, 2008 9:27 pm

    I’m glad bknesto has put up this post. You hit on some good points, bknesto, but I think many of the folks posting here are missing them. For me, the outstanding factor here is that folks of color, especially young Black men, have been systematically removed from most public spaces in NYC, largely via the criminal justice system. Even in longtime majority Black neighborhoods, especially those where many white folks (like me) are moving to, like Clinton Hill or Crown Heights or Bushwick, this process of policing and corralling young Black men is accelerating, often to make neighborhoods “safe” for new investments and development.

    We live in a society that still operates through INSTITUTIONAL racism, and furthered by the racist fear mongering that takes place throughout the big media outlets. I don’t know what it’s like to be a young Black man accused, yet again, for some bullshit even though he’s just hanging out on the block he grew up on with his buddies. What I do know is that Black and Latino people, especially Black and Latino men, are under attack by the NYPD and the courts. That’s not an exaggeration. I encourage folks to check out the 1999 NY Attorney General report on NYPD’s stop and frisk policies:, which finds that the cops focus their stop and frisk policies almost exclusively on young men of color. To see how they justify this practice via the drug laws, check out the recent NYCLU report about the “Marijuana Crusades” of the NYPD (referenced by bknesto), which outlines how over 40,000 New Yorkers–nearly all Black and Latino young men–were arrested for marijuana possession last year alone. The report details how most of these arrests are bogus, constitute a violation of civil rights, and are racially motivated (i.e. racist). The report also shows how white people proportionately smoke (and sell) more weed than do folks of color. In fact, white folks use and sell more illicit drugs than nearly every other racial group–and yet, in NY, over 90% of the people locked up under the Rockefeller Drug Laws are folks of color. Say what?

    These reports highlight the seriousness of the situation, and why bknesto wrote, above, that this situation was about his life. Clearly if a group, legitimate or not, is falsely accusing some young Black men of being a drug gang, there is ample reason to be concerned and take preventative action.

    No doubt most of us get nervous or concerned or even afraid from time to time when we’re traveling around the city, or even, at times, in our own neighborhoods. Hopefully we can talk to each other and learn from one another. Neighborhood debates and discussions, like this one, are usually good. Get’s us talking, discussing, etc. And yes, of course, we shouldn’t be quick to judge, because we don’t know what other people have gone through/are going through. And hopefully the white folks in the neighborhood who are hip to the game of developers and the NYPD will speak out against these practices and emails like the one that charged bknesto and his friend with being a drug ring. Solidarity can go a long way.

  39. stop the drug war permalink
    July 19, 2008 9:35 pm

    By the way, here is a link to a short YouTube video about the the Marijuana Crusades report:

    And the report itself along with related fact sheet:

  40. kjrhee permalink
    July 21, 2008 8:30 pm

    dear bknesto,

    my name is kj, and i work with an organization called Prison Moratorium Project (PMP). You can check out the links below (at the bottom of this post) to get a general gist on PMP, as our website is being revamped.

    I am contacting you because we are in the process of launching a campaign on NYC’s marijuana arrest policy and practice, specifically in conjunction with the findings of the NYCLU report that you allude to in your blog posts. We just recently had a teach-in called “Up in Smoke! NYC’s marijuana arrest madness”. I am posting the invite letter below for your reference. I also live on Clinton avenue and have been a resident here since ’97 so much to discuss on that front as well.

    would love to connect and invite you to join the campaign, if you are interested. we just had a teach-in and there will be follow-up meetings, events and etc. soon.

    i can be reached at and my name is KJ.

    Letter of invite to Up in Smoke teach-in, 7/17/08
    July 9, 2008


    This is an invitation letter from Prison Moratorium Project asking for your organizational participation in Up in Smoke! NYC’s Marijuana Arrest Policy, a teach-in on New York City’s marijuana arrest policy and practice. In hosting the teach-in, our initial goals are to:
    • gain a comprehensive, in-depth and working knowledge of the findings around NYC’s marijuana arrest policy and practice as well as the direct connection to the larger drug war policies and practices
    • discuss the challenges and opportunities regarding these findings and issue, organizationally and politically;
    • develop a dedicated working group to change the marijuana arrest policy and practice in NYC

    Up in Smoke! NYC’s Marijuana Arrest Policy teach-in will be held from 12-430pm, Thursday, July 17, 2008, at Drug Policy Alliance (70 West 36th Street, 16th Floor. Lunch will be provided. As the space is limited, you must RSVP to by Tuesday, July 15th in order for us to make adequate provisions for food and seating. Please note that the space only accommodates 22 people. However, there will be additional teach-in’s and meetings following this event.

    Please find enclosed below a brief background information on NYC’s marijuana arrest policy based on the recently released report, The Marijuana Arrest Crusade in New York City (April 2008).

    Thank you for your work and dedication. Please feel free to contact Chino, or KJ, with any questions regarding this event.

    In Struggle,
    Prison Moratorium Project

    Background Information
    Many of you have read the recently release report by the New York Civil Liberties Union, The Marijuana Arrest Crusade in New York City (April 2008). The report finds that while the marijuana arrests have been rising nationwide since the early 1990’s, the increase in New York City has been the most dramatic in arrest numbers and racial disparity.

    • In 1978 New York State law made possession of less then an ounce of marijuana (28 grams) not a misdemeanor but a violation, like a traffic citation.
    • From 1997 to 2006, the New York City Police Department arrested and jailed more than 353,000 people simply for possessing small amounts of marijuana. This was eleven times more marijuana arrests than in the previous decade, and ten times more than in the decade before that.
    • The report finds that the surge in arrests is largely a byproduct of an aggressive “stop and frisk” program in which police pat down young men they (supposedly) suspect of criminal activity, ostensibly to make sure they’re not carrying weapons. The targets of these pat-downs are disproportionately black and latino, and so are the people arrested for marijuana possession.

    • The marijuana possession arrests in New York City are racially skewed. From 1997 to 2006, about 54% of those arrested for possessing marijuana were Black, 30% were Latino, and 14% were White. In the last ten years, New York has arrested and jailed nearly 200,000 Blacks, over 100,000 Latinos, and over 50,000 Whites just for possessing small amounts of marijuana. About 91% of the people arrested are men, and most are under 30 years of age.


    • The dramatic increase in marijuana possession arrests in New York are NOT the result of an increase in marijuana use, which hit its peak around 1980.

    • New York’s arrests are NOT the result of a similar nationwide rise in marijuana arrests. From 1990 to 2000 marijuana arrests in the U.S. went up about two and half times while marijuana possession arrests in New York City increased by ten fold.

    • The arrests are also NOT mainly of people smoking in public. Most of the people arrested in New York City simply had a small amount of marijuana in their possession, usually in a pocket.

    • Finally, the marijuana arrests are racially skewed NOT because Blacks and Hispanics use marijuana more than Whites. In fact, Whites use marijuana more than Blacks or Hispanics.

    Background info on PMP
    1) For an 8 minute video that features some of our work and flavor, please go to and click on video on the left hand side. We do have a copy that we can forward of course and a longer version (22 minutes) that explains our work and the prison industrial complex.
    2) For coverage of PMP in the press, please go to
    3) For an op-ed on school safety initiative in NYC, please go to

  41. Hill Observer permalink
    August 7, 2008 6:13 pm


    PART #2

    Because, the first stage is just to evict as many tenants as possible, raise rents, and get apartments de-regulated. The second stage is to convert the building to coops or condos, which means that each apartment will no longer be rented out, but SOLD, individually, to a new owner. That price will probably be about $350-$1,000,000 (yes, one million dollars) depending on the size and condition. He will put a little money renovating the apartments and then he will sell them for HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of $$$$ profit for each individual apartment. He paid only $2.5 million for the building! There are 35 apartments in the building. 35 x $350-$1,000,000 = $12-35 million. Why was the building sold so cheap? Because it is rent regulated and the owner cannot raise the rents. But, the old owner probably wasn’t as sophisticated or brutal as Westeich, or didn’t have the money and knowledge so he didn’t realize he could de-regulate the building. Westreich will make a HUGE profit on this building. To the tenants living there now: you are sitting on a gold mine. This is like the Americans having to kill the Indians to take over the West in the 19th century…the Redman was in the way of the Whiteman’s plans and they had to be removed. History is replaying itself here: your neighborhood is being taken over. YOU are in the way of Westreich’s profits. You MUST be removed. By any tactic possible. DO YOU UNDERSTAND NOW? Do you understand why the ‘drug letter’, why the parking lot lights, why the razor bars, why there is probably a hidden video cameras in the building, why you are being fed misinformation and lies by his eviction specialists, why you are being sued, why you are being manipulated, why he is offering you buyouts of $25k- $60k, chump change compared with what your apartment is worth as a coop or condo (if you accept a buyout, do not accept for under $150-300k).


    Read a little further dear reader, we are getting to that!

    What is the outcome of this process? Displacement. Otherwise called gentrification. Gentrification is a polite term for a very brutal, dirty, and greedy business. What the landlord is doing, is he is forcing people out of their homes. He is forcing them out of their neighborhoods, often the neighborhood they were born and raised in. He is destroying the community. He then replaces the old rent regulated tenants with new ‘yuppie’ tenants. This is class warfare. Yes, it is often replacing black with white, but not always…often it is replacing poor or low income black or white tenant with a higher income professional black tenant. In order to rent an apartment that used to rent for $750 a month for $3,500 a month, he has to make not only the apartment but the building appeal to that new sort of customer. A bunch of black men (and women) hanging in front of the building is going to repel that sort of renter. Westreich is trying to drive those people out of their building. It is a subtle form of harrasment. He recently installed 3 POWERFUL halogen Quartz lights in front of the building shining down on the entrance…it lights up the entire corner and even the building across the street. The pretext is drugs. He also put razor spike barriers on all the masonry that rings the building entrance and property so that NO ONE CAN SIT DOWN OUTSIDE THE BUILDING. A NYC tradition, people sitting on their stoops…he is trying to stop this from happening. He wants you black dudes out of his building and this is one of his many tactics to drive you out. He will try many more. He is a sleazy reprehensible man. He wants profit at the expense of you losing your home.

    What you do not understand is this has NOTHING to do with drugs.
    If you throw a brick at any gathering of people in NYC, you are likely o hit someone smoking a little weed. So this is a convienient strategy. Plus, folks that are scared of a gathering of black youth will fall into line and support these charges because they play off stereotypes and fears. Anti-Drugs is a multi-use topic…it is something that everyone can sort of get behind and support. I am, btw, a white middle aged man who lives in this neighborhood. To those that are puffing, I recommend you do it discretely. If you are dealing/distributing from a rent regulated apartment and get convicted, the landlord can use that conviction (only if it is a felony [?] I am not certain, you need to check further into the laws) to evict you. Landlords can also pursue eviction proceeding for tenants who are a ‘nuisance’: but to charge black men who are just sitting in front of their building or hanging out on a stoop with their guests, is going to be VERY hard to impossible to prosecute in housing court…after all, sitting on a stoop on a hot summer night is a NYC tradition.

    What you are witnessing by these ‘drug’ charges, and all the rest is a front, a cover for something much much larger. This is a war for Clinton Hill. Will the old tenants – who lived here through the tougher times of the nabe and made this a great neighborhood that other people now want to move to – will these older residents be pushed out and replaced by yuppies from elsewhere? This is a war over housing. This is a war about $$$. This is a war about class. This is about culture. This is a war about GREED. This is NOT about smoking a joint. Do not be fooled. DO NOT waste your energy fighting a diversionary topic. Go to the source. You need to fight Westreich and Gc Clinton LLC (the name of his company that bought 400 Clinton Ave.).


  42. Hill Observer permalink
    August 7, 2008 6:19 pm

    Go to and type in a search for 400 Clinton Avenue. You will find out the history and stats as well as the price on the building. Go to ACRIS and research the records of the sale and deed of the building.

    These predatory landlords depend on your ignorance for their success.

    Good Luck.

  43. Hill Observer permalink
    August 7, 2008 8:14 pm

    One more thing about the increasing the regulated rental amounts:


    Whenever someone moves out of the apartment (or is evicted) the landlord automatically can increase the rent by 20%. He can tack on even more increases ON TOP of those increases if the tenant has lived in the apartment for 8 years or more. This is why it is imperative for the landlord to EVICT tenants from 400 Clinton Ave, 420 Clinton Ave. and other buildings like this. He needs to get the increases to get the apartments off of rent regulation (off of rent stabilization and rent control). This is the first step in converting the building into his cash cow. THE CURRENT TENANTS MUST BE DRIVEN OUT! Otherwise it is very hard for the landlord to get the rental increases to deregulate the apartments, and that deregulation is a CRITICAL VITAL NECESSARY first step to carry out his grand plan. The vacancy rent increases, the annual rent board increases, the MCI rent increases and next thing you know the apartment is off rent regulation, forever! Hell, if the Landlord has to put 2 refrigerators in the apartment to bump up the MCI to get it off rent regulation, he will. This is the dirty underbelly of NYC Neighborhood ‘Gentrification’. The landlord’s hatchet men are in these two buildings now. WAKE UP TENANTS! GET ORGANIZED! Or else you WILL lose you homes, guaranteed. This is a well oiled systematic machine to destroy your home and seize it from you. While you sleep (and puff that herb) your home is being pulled out from under your feet! GET INFORMED! Get ORGANIZED! Do it NOW!

    From the New York State Division of Housing & Community Renewal website:

    “II. Vacancy Allowances

    For an apartment that is vacant on June 15, 1997, landlords will be entitled to the following vacancy allowance:

    For two-year leases, upon vacancy of an apartment, the landlord shall be entitled to increase the rent by 20 percent, plus any additional vacancy increases as noted below.

    If the lease is for one year, the 20 percent increase shall be reduced by the difference between a two-year increase and one-year increase as authorized by the NYC Rent Guidelines Board.

    For example, if the Board approves a 3 percent increase for one year and a 5 percent increase for two years, the two-year lease shall increase by 20 percent and the one- year lease shall increase by 18 percent.

    In addition to the vacancy allowances noted above, for a vacant apartment where the previous tenant had lived for eight or more years, the landlord shall be entitled to a 0.6 percent increase above the 20 percent vacancy allowance for each year the previous tenant occupied the apartment.

    For example, if the prior tenant was in the apartment for 10 years, the landlord would be entitled, for a two-year lease, to increase the rent by the 20 percent vacancy allowance plus an additional 6 percent. If the tenant was in occupancy for 20 years, the increase would be 20 percent plus an additional 12 percent.

    For apartments that rent for less $300 per month in addition to the vacancy allowances as noted above, the rent would increase by $100 upon vacancy. In the event the rent for the apartment was $300 to $500, upon vacancy the landlord would get the vacancy allowances noted above or $100, whichever is greater.”

    So, if a tenant at 400 Clinton Ave was in the apartment for 20 years, and due to ignorance of his rights gets evicted, moves, is forced out, or bought out for chump change (30K is chump change for a buyout with the value of these apartments)….the landlord automatically bumps the legal regulated rent up to $1320. A little bit of a renovation and the MCI increase bumps this apartment rent over $2,000, then it of OFF rent regulation ….forever. Deregulated. He pays the tenant $30,000 to move. He rents the now fixed up $1,000 apartment for $3,000 to a Yuppie. He makes his buyout profit back in 15 months….and has no more aggravating rent regulated tenant in that apartment with special rights and protections from the rent regulation laws in NY State. In a year the landlord may choose to not renew the lease for his new market tenant, evict the unprotected, unregulated market-rate tenant, and double the rent if he wishes. He needs to renovate the apartment anyway for when he converts the building to condos in a year or so. After conversion, he sells the apartment for $500,000. Meanwhile, the evicted/bought out old original Clinton Hill tenant cannot find an affordable apartment in Clinton Hill anymore…why not? Because they are becoming deregulated! Whenever anyone moves out of a rent regulated apartment these days, chances are the Landlord has this scheme in mind to take it off rent regulation. Thus, affordable housing in Clinton Hill – and all of NYC – is destroyed, a thing of the past. A relic. This is the nuts and bolts of gentrification. In fact, there are Wall Street investment funds that do nothing but buy regulated properties and with these predatory…but legal tactics….bump up the rents and/or convert to condos, and the profits are shared by those owning shares in the fund. This is not about community, this is about profit and unrestrained greed.

    VOTE! That’s one way to stop this tide. The real estate lobby pays to get their politicians into office and then they get the laws changed for their advantage, eroding tenants’ rights. Step by step, they destroy the laws that prevent them from robbing your affordable housing in NYC. VOTE!
    Find out your local, city, and state politicians and candidates who truly represent tenants’ interests. Put them in office or vote to keep them in office. They will introduce new tenant laws and protections and as well they will vote down bills introduced by the landlord’s representative. You fight the landlords in your backyards, in your apartments, and in the streets…the politicians will fight the big fish in Albany.

    Also, go to DCHR at 55 Hanson Place, 7th floor. Bring a copy of your lease, a letter sent to you, a utility bill…a couple things with your ADDRESS and name printed on it. Request a DCHR Rental History Printout. Rent regulated apartments have to have their rent and leases registered with DCHR every year. Landlords run a scam by forging leases for a higher amount. They changed the laws so that you cannot challenge this sort of overcharge for more than 4 years back (it used to be 30 years, but again, the real estate lobby got their politicians in to change the laws). If the landlord is overcharging you, which is common because tenants are ignorant of the registration process, you are entitled to get back the overcharged amount….and if it is a willful overcharge, you are entitled to get back 3x the overcharge. You could get back $50k. DHCR will do the investigation for free. And you will get your rent reduced. And, it will make it harder for your landlord to pump your rents up to take the apt. off of NYS rent regulation.

    If your lease says your rent is $800 and you pay only $800, it doesn’t mean anything. That can be a deception to keep you happy. The landlord goes and forges a lease and files it with DHCR for $1,600. You do not know this. After 4 years it BECOMES THE LEGAL RENT(!) because they changed the laws so you cannot challenge the rental amount after 4 years. Research your apartments. You move, and the landlord puts the 20% vacancy increase and next thing you know, the rent is now $2,000…..and off rent regulation.

    The time for remaining blissfully ignorant is over! You have a new landlord, he is a predatory landlord, he doesn’t want your back rent, he doesn’t want your money. He wants you OUT. He wants the apartment. Dig?

    Get informed. Or get crushed. Think you have nothing to worry about? Your apartment is next….

  44. Hill Observer permalink
    August 7, 2008 8:27 pm

    Someone do me a favor and print out 40 copies of my posts and put one under the door of each tenant @ 400 Clinton Ave. Sprinkle them on the lawn, on the sidewalk, in the lobby, in the elevator as well. Post them in the bodegas. In Tillys.
    The tenants in this building are unfortunately clueless. As is the Clointon Hill community Nobody dreams that this sort of thing happens to them: the next thing you know, you are out in the street. Copy and post me messages on other forums and get the word out. We all need to learn. And we need to share what we know to stop these sort of landlords.

    They need a wake up call.
    They need some help.
    They are going to need to become educated very fast if they wish to keep their homes.
    The rest of you out there, learn this and learn this well. The Real Estate market is crazy volatile now. Your building owner will be offered a buyout and there is nothing you can do. If predatory barracudas buy your building, you will be in the same shoes as 400 Clinton Ave. and 420 Clinton Ave.

    Tell me now, truthfully: do you really think this is about ‘Drugs’? You all really think this is about a few homeboys smoking a joint and hanging out enjoying the sweet summer Brooklyn night?

  45. Hill Observer permalink
    August 8, 2008 2:11 am

    Here are a couple good online resources.
    These websites refer to different landlords, so some tactic will definitely be different, but it will give you a general idea of what you will need to do to survive and what you can expect:
    Good Luck!

  46. you're a hypocrite permalink
    August 8, 2008 4:23 pm

    You are a hypocrite for accusing every newcomer to the neighborhood of being some evil gentrrifier who is out to accuse you of crimes and destroy your neighborhood. You don’t know who sent this email or what other supposed newcomers think of it.

    As for you being so old school, how old are you anyway? My parents grew up here long before you were born and to them, YOU are the newcomers. Get a little perspective and realize that your limited history is not the full history of the neighborhood. It’s also not the future.

  47. bknesto permalink
    August 8, 2008 5:14 pm

    It’s funny that of all the things said in the comments along w/ the post, this is what you selectively want to focus on. PLEASE tell me where it is said that EVERY newcomer is evil or that ANY are evil?! PLEASE tell me where it’s stated that they are out to destroy the neighborhood?! So the hypocrisy you are referring to is non existent. And obviosly you havent been to this blog before because if you had, you would know that I’m 4th generation in this neighborhood, my kids make 5. So instead of getting so emotional and making false inferences, why don’t you read first then come with some rational perspective.


  1. Informative post from “Hill Observer” Part 1 & 2 « Clinton Hill Chill Blog

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