Bed-Stuy’s National Night Out de-glorifies crime
Photos of Rikers Adolescent Detention Center shown at Armstrong Houses
By Stephen Witt
While Bed-Stuy’s annual contribution to the National Night Out Against Crime on August 7 features the usual eats, face painting and tips and programs on keeping the community safe, one local political activist is heading to the Louis Armstrong Houses to get real with at-risk youths.
Robert Cornegy, president of the neighborhood’s powerful Vanguard Independent Democratic Association (VIDA) clubhouse, is bringing along former Rikers Island Correction Officer Lorenzo Steele.
Steele worked in Riker’s notorious Adolescent Detention Center (ADC), which to this day is known as one of the most, if not the most, violent adolescent centers in America.
He is bringing along 25 framed photographs he took while working there of inmates stabbed and slashed as well as other depictions of life in 8-by-6-foot cells and prison life at Rikers.
Steele said the ADC houses prisoners charged with misdemeanors and felonies from the ages of 14-19, and some get sodomized and raped.
“The photos are not part of a scared straight program,” said Cornegy, “but it de glorifies what happens in prison.”
Cornegy said the event is part of the city’s public housing police (PSA3) National Night Out. The photographs will be shown at 414 Lexington Avenue near the corner of Tompkins Avenue.
The Armstrong Houses stretches roughly from Tompkins Avenue to Nostrand Avenue, and from Clifton Place to Gates Avenue. It is under constant police surveillance, and like much of Central Brooklyn, has a high unemployment rate, and its community center battles for funding from the city every year.
In recent months, Armstrong has also had several confrontations with police, including allegations of gunmen taking shots at police off the roof of a building, and several cops being injured after bleach was poured out a window on them.
Just around the corner at Von King Park, the 79th Police Precinct is holding their National Night Out from 3-8 pm.
In northern Bed-Stuy, the 81st Police Precinct will hold their National Night Out from 4-8 pm at the P.S. 309 Reinaldo Salgado Playground on Monroe Street between Ralph and Patchen Avenues.