Outside City Hall, Ministers Call on Churches to Do More to Fight Gun Violence

Five days after a 4-year-old boy was shot and killed in a Bronx playground, a coalition of clergy members and politicians gathered at City Hall on Friday to call on city churches to play a larger role in preventing gun violence in their neighborhoods.

The clergy members, all leaders of black or Hispanic churches, pledged to build personal relationships with local police officers, to use their pulpits to speak out against carrying guns and to steer local youth away from gangs through mentoring.

“We’re asking them to not just have their activities on Sunday mornings,” said the Rev. Joseph Mattera, the senior pastor of Resurrection Church in Brooklyn, standing in front of a crowd that held up signs with anti-gun slogans. “We’re encouraging them to be more holistic to serve their communities.”

He and the other speakers pinpointed family problems and the lack of jobs for young people as root causes for the violence — issues that community leaders could work to address, they said. Mr. Mattera said he hoped clergy members could persuade local business owners to hire young people to keep them busy and off the streets.

But most important, they said, clergy members could use their influence to draw awareness to the issue and serve as intermediaries between the police and youth, turning churches into safe spaces where people could turn in guns or report gun possession. Others suggested using churches as places where those convicted of misdemeanors could perform their community service.

“There is power in the pulpit,” said the Rev. Michael Faulkner, the pastor of New Horizon Church in Harlem. “That power has to be used to bring stability and security to our community.”

Several of the clergy members spoke about the gun violence that has broken out across the city this summer, like the gunfight on Sunday that killed the 4-year-old, Lloyd Morgan.

State Senator Malcolm A. Smith, a Democrat from Queens, who is pushing for state legislation that would prohibit people with certain mental health issues from buying guns, said the city’s shootings were reminiscent of the crime that gripped the city in the 1980s. “We won’t go back, and we can’t go back to the way things were,” he said.

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Update on the Cause of Action Lawsuit

Some of you have probably thought to yourselves sometime recently, “whatever happened to the lawsuit against Governor Markell?” After accusing us of being a right-wing think tank who opposes jobs for the middle class, Team Markell has asked for an extension of time to respond to the Cause of Action Lawsuit. No official word on whether the five named members of the Public Service Commission have responded to the suit, but we believe they too have asked for an extension to review the lawsuit. None of them commented on the case at the time it was filed.

Additionally, Mr. Nichols filed an appeal of the Coastal Zone Industrial Control Board’s (CZICB) decision last month to deny him standing to pursue a grievance against Bloom Energy. His court date against them will be in September. A win for John means the CZICB will have to re-hear John’s case. A win for the CZICB means the decision in June will stand, and no further challenges can be made.

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In Subway, Activist Records Stop-and-Frisk He Says Proves Its Dark Side

The video shows a police officer striding toward a young man standing on a platform at the 45th Street subway station in Brooklyn. A few seconds later, the officer pats him down. Shortly afterward, the young man appears to fidget against a wall and the officer slams him to the ground, ripping a subway ad from the wall in the process. The officer does it again, then puts the young man in a headlock and handcuffs him.

That scene was captured by David Galarza, a local activist, who said he recorded it last Thursday night. At a news conference on Thursday in Brooklyn, Mr. Galarza and other local activists said the officer’s confrontation with the young man, Sean Pagan, 19, was another example of the police’s mistreatment of the predominantly Hispanic and Asian residents of Sunset Park.

This time, however, they say they have a video to support their contention.

“These are young people of color who are victimized many times, and this kind of excessive force, sometimes it’s captured, sometimes not,” Mr. Galarza said before screening the video for reporters at a Latino community center in Sunset Park. “There was an arrest of a young man, but not of the officer who did the groping, and who did the choking.”

Mr. Galarza said he had witnessed many instances of police violence, so he instinctively pulled out his phone to film when he saw the officer approaching Mr. Pagan, who works at a clothing factory nearby. Mr. Pagan said he was waiting for the train to Coney Island when the officer told him to put his hands against the wall. The officer searched him, he said, and then Mr. Pagan found himself on the ground.

Mr. Pagan said he did not know why he had been stopped in the first place, but a police spokesman said Mr. Pagan had entered the subway station without paying, then refused to show the officer his identification and resisted arrest. He was charged with theft of services and resisting arrest. According to the police, Mr. Pagan had been arrested nine times prior to last Thursday and once since then, for offenses including criminal mischief, creating graffiti, intent to damage property, telephone harassment and criminal contempt.

Mr. Pagan, who is Hispanic, said the officers at the precinct house where he was taken joked and laughed about his body-slamming.

Without the video, he said, he would not have known how to draw attention to his arrest. Even his mother did not believe his story until she saw the video, he said.

“It would’ve been his word over mine,” he said. “He would’ve said I was resisting and going crazy. It would’ve been brushed under the rug.”

The Rev. Samuel Cruz, a pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Sunset Park, said he had spoken with a public relations officer at the 72nd police precinct house about the episode. But he said it seemed clear that the officer was not going to look into the matter. Mr. Pagan’s lawyer, David Rankin, said Thursday that they had not yet decided what action to pursue, if any.

During the news conference, Mr. Galarza and Mr. Cruz spoke against what they called police brutality and the atmosphere of fear they say it has created in Sunset Park. Mr. Cruz said he would give video cameras to members of his congregation so they, too, could record evidence of police misconduct.

They, like other activists across the city, have criticized the Police Department’s so-called stop-and-frisk practice for disproportionately targeting young minority men, like Mr. Pagan. In recent months, attention to the issue has grown, and last month thousands of people took part in a silent march to protest the tactic. But Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg contends it has contributed to a reduction in crime.

Mr. Pagan said he had been stopped and frisked about five times before.

Mr. Rankin insisted that his client had complied with the officer’s search. “There was no reason for this officer to do this invasive of a search at all,” he said. “From that overreaching, even just a twitch results in two body slams to the floor.”

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Two Dozen Firefighters Hurt in Brooklyn Fire

A fire in an apartment building in Brooklyn on Thursday sent two dozen firefighters to the hospital for injuries mostly related to heat exhaustion, a spokesman for the New York City Fire Department said.

The fire is believed to have been started by lightning and tore across the top floor of the seven-story building at 665 New York Avenue, the spokesman, Frank Dwyer, said. The building has more than 100 apartments.

More than 200 firefighters worked over three and a half hours to bring the fire under control.

The injuries were mostly minor, although one firefighter reported that he was experiencing chest pains, Mr. Dwyer said.

The fire began shortly after 10 a.m. There were multiple lightning strikes in the area, Mr. Dwyer said, adding that about 15 minutes earlier a building just a few blocks away had been struck.

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