Brownsville Reacts in a Murky Case

Marcus Garvey House, Brownsville, Brooklyn (Wikipedia via The Amsterdam News)

Marcus Garvey House, Brownsville, Brooklyn (Wikipedia via The Amsterdam News)

In the latest turn in a mystifying and murky case, five teenaged defendants who had been accused of rape were ordered by Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson to be released on Thursday, Jan. 14. As reported in the New York Daily News, Thompson said: “Because we are determined to get to the truth about what happened in that park, we need more time to investigate this complex case and gather more evidence.”

In the wake of the initial reports of the Jan. 7 alleged rape in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, Saeed Shabazz of The Amsterdam News went to the neighborhood to speak with residents about the case. He spoke with homeowner Theo McLeod, 61, a retired construction worker.

McLeod’s home sits two blocks from the Osborn Playground, where five young men allegedly committed the rape of an 18-year-old woman. “We have talked about it at our dinner table, but one thing is for sure,” he said. “This is not normal behavior for our community. Rape? No brother, we don’t have rape around here. And trust me when I tell you, it ain’t something that we are going to tolerate.”

At the playground where the rape allegedly occurred, The Amsterdam News noted “a pristine area with an NYPD spotlight.”

“What you witnessed was a Parks Department cleansing.” Andre A.T. Mitchell, director of the Man Up! program, told the AmNews. “Last Thursday that park looked like a desolate wasteland. The NYPD put the spotlight there after hearing complaints during the January 10 press conference, but we want real lights in the park.”

Mitchell, a long-time community activist proudly boasts of being a Brownsville native and of the activities of his organization. “We have been in this area for eight years now,” he said. “We run a youth center exclusively for the youth of the Noble Drew Ali complex.” In addition, Man Up! operates programs in nine schools and two after-school centers.

“Are the young people talking about the alleged rape? Yes,” Mitchell admitted. He added, “But many of them seem confused by what is being said in the media.”

Go to The Amsterdam News to learn what Sharonne Salaam of the Harlem-based Justice for the Wrongfully Incarcerated has to say about the seeming rush to judgement about the five young men.

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