The call-and-response shouts that echoed up in Hunts Point went: “What do we want? “Safe streets!”–but the 150 locals who marched up Southern Boulevard last Thursday also wanted respect from the cops that serve them.
Mothers on the Move and the Hunts Point Awareness Committee led a protest march on the 41st Precinct to state their dual demand: that cops provide them with protection and respect. Marchers complained that the precinct’s cops use excessive force in making arrests and that patrolmen often make no effort to protect the confidentiality of phone-tip witnesses.
“We want the streets cleaned up, and we want to send a message to the police that we’re willing to work together, but we don’t want to be victimized,” said Rev. Jo-An Owings of the Bright Temple Church.
Arlene Mendez, a protester and mother, held up snapshots she had taken earlier in the day around Hunts Point Bridge, known locally as Needle Point Bridge, where many children pass on their way to school. The pictures showed human feces, discarded syringes and arm straps used during heroine injection. “We need someone to make it right for us and our kids,” she said.
The police flanked the marchers from Del Valle Square to the precinct, where the crowd chanted and marched in a circle while Nicolas Guareno, a MOM protester, took an enlarged, mounted letter of demands in to the Precinct Capt. Manuel De La Rosa.
De La Rosa, whom MOM members say has been evasive, agreed to meet with the community during the week of October 20.