In the last six months, I have been very tempted to buy pepper spray or mace. As someone who has lived in NYC for 10 years, six of which have been in East Harlem, this has been the first time I’ve really felt threatened walking around my neighborhood.
Neighbors of mine have been mugged and buglarized in the past year. And a recent article in Gothamist makes me think that these are not isolated events.
According to the article, the 23rd precinct in East Harlem is seeing a lot more gang member activity. Not only that, but East Harlem was ranked first in drug-related deaths of any NYC community in 2009, with 22.9 deaths per 100,00 compared to 8.3 citywide.
The police department’s crime statistics don’t show a significant increase, but one has to wonder whether crime is being accurately captured by the department.
Eight-year-old Alex Pablo was fatally struck by a taxi on 112th street, between Lexington and 3rd Avenue.
There have always been accidents on East 112th Street. The street’s wide lane seem to be an incentive for cars to speed and try to weave around each other. A couple of years ago, I witnessed cops use the infamous “jaws of life” to get a driver out after a two-car collision on 112th and 2nd Avenue.
On Thursday, as I was walking home, I noticed there had been another major accident when I saw cop cars section off the block between Lexington and 3rd Avenue. Then I noticed the detectives, which I learned during my daily news reporting days, was never a good sign. A detective present during a car accident means someone is dead.
In this case, it was absolutely tragic. He was only eight. It could have been any child (which East Harlem is absolutely full of). It could have been my daughter.
There are so many conflicting reports about what happened. Some say it was the cabbie’s fault. He turned onto 112th from Lexington and was speeding. Others say the little boy darted into the street. Either way, a young life was abruptly ended.
Some residents are calling for Department of Transportation and Community Board 11 to place bike lanes on 112th Street, from Lenox to 1st Avenue. While DOT is involved in this process, the financial responsibility lies on Community Board 11.
Please, if you can email or attend a Community Board 11 meeting, and ask that something be done. East 112th is lined with schools, churches, public housing and a park. It will only be a matter of time before another needless pedestrian accident occurs.