A Letter to The Mayor from a Greater Harlem Coalition Member

To: The Honorable Mayor DeBlasio

Good afternoon Mr. Mayor, I hope this email finds you and your family all safe and healthy. This is the fourth email I am sending you over the last couple of months. I want to begin this correspondence by saying thank you for all the hard work that you and your staff are doing to help guide our New York City citizens through these harrowing times. I am very sad to hear about the one year old baby being murdered in Bed Sty over the last several days. The uptick in gun violence this year may be an anomaly compared to recent years due to multiple factors, but please understand that us New Yorkers are in need of the protection of good police officers to protect us. I hope that there is not a policy in place that is stopping the police from fighting to get illegal guns off our streets.

As before, the matter I am writing about concerns the rampant, open market heroin sales and use that has infected specifically my block on Malcolm X Boulevard between 123rd and 124th Streets. When I first visited the 28th precinct about 12 months or so ago to alert the police and ask for help, I was noticing only a few strangers walking up and down the block or standing outside in front of my house in the middle of the sidewalk selling bags of heroin to customers while families were walking their kids in strollers up and down the street.  There was no action taken by the police to address this problem for over a year.  My neighbors and I have been seeking help from the narcotics north division as well as from other city officials, but the problem has only gotten worse and worse.  Since the Covid 19 shut down, the heroin problem on this block has spiked exponentially. Now, each and every day, there are up to 20 different drug dealers who have set up our sidewalk as an open air market to sell and use heroin in public. There are addicts and homeless people who are trespassing on my property as well as on the property of my neighbors to buy and use heroin all day long and into the night.  The same drug dealers are working this block like a corporation, beginning work at 9:00 AM until. I came outside this morning to do errands and the first thing I encountered was a man leaning against my front gate, sniffing heroin in front of pedestrians passing by.  This is a disgusting and disgraceful condition that the residents who live here have been abandoned to live  with daily with no help from the police or from the Department of Health or from any other city agencies who are responsible for addressing this matter.  I don’t know who else to ask for help from at this point except from you personally.

They are not hiding but conducting business blatantly with no regard for the people who live here. Not one of these people who loiter daily on this block to sell and use heroin or any other drugs in public lives on this block.  Instead, they come here daily, drink malt liquor in public, throw trash and food waste onto the street, disturb the peace, loiter and ask everyone including myself if they want to buy some dope. What has happened to this block is disgraceful, depressing and very dangerous for the people who live here.  There is nothing on this block except for a corner store, a restaurant, several brownstones, a school and a closed-down church.  These dope dealers have been allowed by law enforcement for months to sell heroin directly in front of the church as well as the school, on camera with no consequence. The only reason our sidewalk is infested with loiterers and drug addicts is because local law enforcement has condoned the use of our block as a safe haven for heroin dealers to conduct open-air business with no consequences.  There was nothing done about this before the pandemic so I question whether this complacency on the part of the police has anything to do with anything else that came after the pandemic including Black Lives Matter protests, anti-protests, the recent spike in homicides, etc.

I understand that our police are under a lot of stress now dealing with gun violence but I am also concerned that our police are conducting some kind of passive strike upon our community in retaliation for community calls for police reform.  I don’t know the current policy of law enforcement when it comes to handling open market heroin sales but I do know that what is going on is definitely illegal.

I know that we are just one block in all the five boroughs, that there are so many other pressings issues on your plate and that we are not “special.” On behalf of my mother, my neighbors and myself, I am nonetheless humbly begging you to please, please, please direct the officers of the 28th precinct and of the narcotics north detective squad to arrest and remove this organization of heroin dealers from off of our block post-haste. We have spoken to and asked for help from city council officials, prosecutors, police officers, etc. with no results. The detectives have pictures of the same people who are destroying the public safety of our block but have yet to do anything about it.  I am hoping that you will assign a mobile police unit to our block for at least a few months until winter in order to stem the increasing tide of outdoor drug activity. We are only two blocks from the precinct but I never see officers walking a beat to remove this problem.  I am honestly afraid that one of the residents on this block will soon become a victim of homicide if nothing is done to control the plague of criminals that has besieged our block.  Please Mr. Mayor, please, I am begging you personally for your help. Thank you in advance.

With all due respect,                                                                                                                            

Mr. Ray Roberts

Malcolm X Boulevard United (MXB)

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