What do you get when you cross Dr. Martin Luther King with Malcom X? A street you can’t walk down. Only a day after celebrating the vision and accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King, a new study has been released showing that peace is hard to come by on streets named after the icon.
Martin Luther King Jr. Houses on Malcolm X Blvd in NY is just one of many housing developments that have seen significant crime increases over the past year.
Violence in city housing developments spiked last year, led by a sharp increase in Bronx murders and Harlem shootings, statistics show.
Residents were not surprised.
“You can’t avoid it,” Bronx resident Maria Rojas-Garcia, 61, said of the violence. “We got everything here. Just last summer a young man was shot in front of our building.
“There is no peace.”
Rojas-Garcia lives with her 83-year-old mother in the Edenwald Houses, the Bronx’s biggest housing project and one with a persistent gang problem.
The Edenwald Houses is one of 14 developments covered by police officers assigned to Police Service Area 8, a division of the NYPD’s Housing Bureau in the east and north Bronx.
Police did not have statistical breakdowns by housing development, but the numbers show that PSA 8 investigated 14 murders last year, up from two in 2009. There were 37 shootings at those houses, compared with 14 in 2009. Edenwald residents said they don’t need numbers to tell their story. Be careful, they say, or be ready.
“People are animals here,” said Jason Miller, 17, an admitted member of the Inwood Jungle Kids. “They hurt each other for no reason. You have to hang with the right crew.
“We’re the top crew so nobody messes with us.”
Police said the increase follows a year of sharp decreases.
“Nonetheless, any murder or shooting is one too many,” said top NYPD spokesman Paul Browne. “We address crime spikes experienced in public housing with housing impact deployments, sometimes coordinated with precinct and transit impact teams, among many other strategies.”
Shaquin Cameron, 20, has her own strategy – she moved out and is majoring in sociology at SUNY Albany. Her friend, Ta’Neyah Frazier, 19, would love to follow suit. “I want to leave here too.” she said. “It’s all I’ve known. I wonder what life is like, life outside here.”
Such an option is less likely for Daniel Lewis, who has lived in Harlem’s Martin Luther King Jr. Houses for all but one of his 57 years.
The development is just a few blocks from the north end of Central Park, but his surroundings are anything but pastoral. Busted door locks invite troublemakers, gunshots are fairly common and kids can’t play in the courtyard without fear.
“It’s getting worse,” he said.
Police statistics show 54 people were shot at Manhattan projects last year, compared with 37 in 2009.
The sharpest increase occurred on the grounds of the developments in Harlem, East Harlem and Spanish Harlem, with shooting victims rising from 21 in 2009 to 40 last year.
“I don’t even let my kids go to the window – and I live on the 12th floor,” said Christina Andrades, 34, a stay-at-home mother of three. “The bullets fly around here.”
It looks like the only thing these people have a dream about is bussin’ a cap in your azz.