The New York City school year got off to a violent start with an increase in deadly weapons and the murder of a student in his school. Now some are calling for tighter security, but others are worried about criminalizing our children.
“When I go to school and I feel like I’m not safe,” Matthew, a middle school student, said. “I think I can speak for all people — it affects you spiritually, mentally and physically.”
Safety fears are a daily reality for a majority of students and teachers, according to the Department of Education’s own survey.
The number of weapons seized in schools is up by nearly 50 percent, with 328 for July 1 to October 1, 2017, compared to 222 for the same period last year. ”
The students have a sense they can do whatever they want in our schools, so they’re bringing in more weapons,” said Gregory Floyd, president of Teamsters Local 237, the union representing school safety agents.
Abel Cedeno, 18, allegedly used a serrated switchblade to stab and kill Matthew McCree, 15, at the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Management in the Bronx.
Brian Favors, an expert in urban education, said another layer of adult intervention would deescalate these situations before they turn violent.
“We need to really be intentional about looking at how do you create a village in the school,” Favors said. “That means training for teachers in cultural competence, and how to handle conflicts, because a lot of these conflicts could be resolved.”
The tragedy created an outcry for metal detectors, which were promptly installed in the school. Only about 6 percent of New York City middle and high schools have them. The concern by the administration is the undertone of criminalization.
“In addition to the permanent scanners that are in the schools, we have the ability to go to any given school on any given day and do scanning there,” said Assistant Chief Brian Conroy of the NYPD School Safety Division.
A growing number of community leaders and parents say kids should not have to face their fears on their own.
“When you’re trying to focus on school, you also have a whole lot of problems running through your mind, ‘Oh what if I run into this person this day or after school, what am I going to do?'” Matthew said. “That all affects your academics, which will affect the rest of your life, will affect your career. And that’s not good.” Some say school safety measures need to keep up with our changing times. –LISA EVERS
FEATURED CAST: LISA EVERS, Host and Executive Producer, Street Soldiers https://twitter.com/lisaevers
BRIAN FAVORS, M.ED., M.S.ED., Educator, Breaking the Cycle Consulting https://www.culturallyresponsiveteach…
DARRIN PORCHER, PH.D., Criminal Justice Professor and Former NYPD Lieutenant https://twitter.com/DrDarrinPorcher
MATTHEW, Middle School Student
LINETTE TOWNSLEY, NAACP Youth Advisor
What started out with a rapper from the Forrest Projects in the Bronx posting a plea on Instagram for people to help Puerto Rico has evolved into a massive humanitarian movement with hip hop leading the way.
Hip hop superstar Fat Joe’s from-the-heart message asking for help for the hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico was met with an overwhelming response.
In the Bronx, the five-hour donation drive organized by Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. with Fat Joe picking up the tab for shipping turned into a 24-hour affair.
“It showed the force and the strength of hip hop,” Diaz said. “I’m so proud and thankful to Fat Joe, Jay Z, to Remy Ma, and all those who were able to come together to help the people of Puerto Rico during this time of pain, suffering, and crisis.”
The turnout and the volume of supplies were overwhelming. Jay Z paid for a plane to take the donations to the island, but one wasn’t enough so he added four more. He got Tidal Music involved in a big way by sponsoring a major drive at the Javits Center. It brought volunteers, the music industry, and Army National Guard together for a good cause.
Recording artist Lumidee told me she spent every summer with family in Puerto Rico and that she is proud to see the surge of help and assistance, which now totals 3 million pounds from New York City. She believes Fat Joe’s involvement convinced many to get involved.
A plane full of supplies Joe collected with Pit Bull flew from Miami to Puerto Rico this week. Another plane will leave from New York this weekend. Tidal is putting on a huge benefit concert at Barclays Center later this month.
LISA EVERS, Host and Executive Producer, Street Soldiers https://twitter.com/lisaevers
RUBEN DIAZ JR., Bronx Borough President https://twitter.com/rubendiazjr
REMY MA, Hip Hop Artist https://twitter.com/RealRemyMa
LUMIDEE, Hip Hop Artist https://twitter.com/thereallumidee
JOELL ORTIZ, Hip Hop Artist https://twitter.com/JoellOrtiz
MELISSA QUESADA, Director of Latino Affairs for Gov. Andrew Cuomo https://www.instagram.com/mquesadaesq/
FAT JOE, Hip Hop Artist https://twitter.com/fatjoe
How police protect and serve the public, especially communities of color, is one of the most contentious issues in our country. While the debate rages on, the NYPD has been making moves to make sure all city residents get the same protection. But have they gone far enough?
There was outrage on the streets for months after the 2014 illegal police chokehold death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man, followed a few weeks later by the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown halfway across the country.
With frustrations at a boiling point, two NYPD officers were shot and killed in uniform. In an exclusive interview, Police Commissioner James O’Neill told me the tragedies became a turning point. “It was a very difficult time to be a police officer, with the demonstrations every day, Liu and Ramos were brutally assassinated on December 20th,” O’Neill said.
“It was a dark time for the NYPD. I think it was a dark time for the city and I think it was a dark time for the nation, too.”
Public outrage over racial profiling and excessive force intensified with federal scrutiny and outside investigations. That ramped up the pressure to make a drastic change, according to Charles Tucker Jr., a St. John’s University Law School professor.
“From a community standpoint, it represented an opportunity for the NYPD to be accountable,” Tucker said. “They’re looking for someone to be accountable in these instances.”
City Hall got that message. Since then, the mayor said every NYPD officer has been retrained in de-escalation techniques, stop-and-frisk has dropped 93 percent, and complaints against officers have dropped to the lowest level in 15 years. All at the same time, serious crime is at the lowest numbers in decades. It is a “180” from the old “Us vs. Them” approach. The cornerstone is neighborhood policing.
“It’s not a political strategy, it’s a real policing strategy,” O’Neill said. “If you look at the old model of policing, if you were in a sector car, all you did was answer radio runs eight hours a day. You had no time to make a connection to anyone.”
Now it is all about the connection. And nowhere is that strategy more visible than in the Brooklyn North command, where officers routinely check in with local businesses and residents. Assistant Chief Jeffrey Maddrey said keeping people safe is the top priority, with community engagement a close second.
“What I tell my officers, is to be the first,” Maddrey said. “Be first to stick out your hand, and say hello, and shake a hand to greet people.”
O’Neill said neighborhood policing is not just about feeling good. It is a key part of their crime-fighting strategy, along with precision policing as opposed to wide-net sweeps, new investigative techniques, and improved technology. He said the new model is in keeping with the times.
“Giving the police officers discretion, the ability to make decisions, solve problems with the community — if anything that’s what I’m most proud of,” O’Neill said.
Police themselves have changed, with the majority being ethnic and racial minorities and more than half living in the five boroughs. But critics say in some areas, the police department needs to be more proactive in disciplining officers who cross the line.
Street Soldiers held a groundbreaking town hall to discuss these issues with rapper Fat Joe, NYPD Chief of Patrol Terence Monahan, Council Member Jumaane Williams, and Police Officer Eric Morales.
FEATURED CAST: LISA EVERS, Host and Executive Producer,
Street Soldiers https://twitter.com/lisaevers
COMMISSIONER JAMES O’NEILL, New York Police Department https://twitter.com/NYPDONeill
CHARLES TUCKER JR., Partner, Tucker Moore Law Group https://twitter.com/sirchase27 https://twitter.com/tuckerandmoore
ASSISTANT CHIEF JEFFREY MADDREY, Commanding Officer,
Patrol Borough Brooklyn North https://twitter.com/NYPDBklynNorth
CHIEF TERENCE A. MONAHAN, Chief of Patrol https://twitter.com/NYPDChiefPatrol
COUNCIL MEMBER JUMAANE WILLIAMS, 45th City Council District https://twitter.com/JumaaneWilliams
POLICE OFFICER ERIC MORALES, 79th Precinct
He is a baby-faced teen rapper facing a death penalty murder case. But the 17-year-old artist known as Tay-K is quickly becoming one of the hottest sensations in hip hop and blurring the line between rap music and real life.
Tay-K’s real-life race was with the U.S. Marshals fugitive task force, which labeled him a violent fugitive. In late March, facing a murder charge as a juvenile, he hit the road. For three months, he was making music about being on the run while actually being on the run.
In my exclusive interview with his high-powered entertainment attorney, James McMillan told me Tay-K (https://twitter.com/TAYK47USA) is first and foremost a very young but focused artist.
“Clearly he took a risk by clipping his ankle bracelet and going on the run,” McMillan said. “But simultaneously he had the awareness to make a video and song at the same time.”
On June 30, 2017, the day he was captured by U.S. marshals in New Jersey, Tay-K’s manager released “The Race” song and video. It went viral, racking up more than 40 million views. The song is so popular it broke into the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
“This generation of kids, they’re really savvy about and aware of technology, and appearance,” McMillan said. “And how you can affect the world basically by the press of a button with one visual, one song.”
Taymor “Tay-K” McIntyre’s legal problems are much more complicated. He is charged along with six others in a home invasion that left a 21-year-old man dead. He is also reportedly implicated in another murder while on the run, as well as the brutal assault of a 65-year-old man. Former prosecutor and now a criminal defense attorney Charles Tucker Jr. said “The Race” video could be used in court and the gun play depicted in it especially could hurt his case. ”
Anytime you have a video that looks like it possibly could relate to criminal charges, obviously it’s not something you like to have a defendant involved in,” Tucker said.
Tay-K’s criminal attorney Trent Loftin told Street Soldiers: “Mr. McIntyre wholeheartedly denies these charges and allegations against him… and his entire legal team look forward to our future trial and maintain our innocence. We are certain when all of the evidence is presented, Mr. McIntyre will be exonerated.”
A judge ruled he must be tried as an adult, making the stakes that much higher.
“It’s now a death penalty case based on the serious charges that are now facing him in Texas,” Tucker said.
Whatever the outcome of his legal problems, Tay-K may already have made his mark as a part of a new age of gangsta rap, said Rob Markman, who just dropped his first EP “Write to Dream.” “It’s just in your face, there’s almost nothing poetic about it,” Markman said. “16-, 17-year-old kid, very jarring.”
It is possible rap could turn out to be Tay-K’s redemption. He has vowed that if he beats the charges, he will stop robbing and earn his money in legit ways. Right now behind bars, he is raking in about $2,000 a day from all the video views, his attorney said.