On behalf of the North Flatbush Avenue District Management Association and its Board of Directors, we share this message with you after a long weekend of unsettling events preceded by a time of unparalleled uncertainty. As the nexus of Flatbush Avenue where Atlantic Avenue meets the Barclays Center and a major transit hub, we have been a point of convergence for many people who desire to express their concerns, fears, and exhaustion in this cultural crisis.
We are grateful to have staff members, board members and our dedicated maintenance team in the area to report updates and help us navigate our district landscape; there have been some powerful displays of solidarity and certainly some disturbing incidents and reactions. We can report that we have had some property damage but any physical damage is minimal and is easy to repair. We have already deployed graffiti removal on planters and other assets, but we are also certain new occurrences will arise. Currently, the Department of Sanitation has collected the corner wire baskets and will be temporarily storing them off site until further notice. This is a temporary measure to decrease potential misuse and traffic obstacles. The NFBID maintenance team will be securing the Big Belly Solar cans to eliminate opportunities for community damage. And we have requested swift and consistent attention to street sweeping and residential garbage collection to avoid any other unforeseen issues. We request our businesses to coordinate any private collection efforts to aid us in this manner. And we ask our residents to avoid leaving garbage out into the evening hours and hold until the next collection.
We understand property owners, neighbors and merchants are having to make some very difficult decisions right now on how to best secure their buildings/premises. We can offer these suggestions to navigate during this or any future civil unrest:
- Remain vigilant. But remember that assuming actions before they happen, can feed racial bias.
- Please consider your personal safety and the safety of your staff at all times in making operational decisions;
- Continue to remind your staff and customers to wear appropriate PPE, maintain distancing especially in crowds;
- Articulate your daily safety plans with all staff regularly;
- Check in on others (especially Seniors) who may have heightened concerns about getting basic needs with the extra added tension of large groups of people
- Remove enticing or valuable merchandise from storefront;
- Install physical barriers on ground floor to prevent break-ins through storefronts or other ground-floor access points (points of entry/exit should continue to be operational);
- Leave lights on overnight on the ground floor;
- Check security systems, security cameras, security of entrances;
- Consider hiring overnight security;
- Do not buzz strangers into building;
- Place garbage (residential or commercial) out in the morning for collection during the day and do not leave garbage on sidewalk overnight as it poses a potential fire risk or used as projectiles (especially recyclables and cardboard/paper).
We will continue to share guidance for our community as we see opportunities and receive updates from City agencies and partners. As we continue to monitor the situation, please reach out to us on whatever channel works for you (email, phone, direct message) to discuss and share any specific conditions or hotspots (photo documentation is useful).
Equally important, we want to share some thoughts on ways to be an ally during this time. We fully accept these are not our original ideas, but ones that have been shared with our office that we think are worth passing along–(hat tip to those that have shared these concepts):
Actively Listen–to black leadership, to the frustrations of our youth, to the countless fighters who tirelessly point to the same issues, again and again.
Reject race-based discrimination–When you see bias that disproportionately impacts people of color, speak and act.
Educate yourself and others about our history–Learn more about issues like racial bias, systemic racism, white supremacy, and how these issues exist in our society– For an intro to this topic: @brooklynhistory’s “400 Years of Inequality” series, available on their website.
At the time of this writing it has been announced that the Governor of New York and Mayor of New York City have announced a curfew of 11pm-5am for tonight-June 1, 2020 and an 8pm curfew for NYC on Tuesday, June 2. We are hopeful that this will minimize the occurrence of damage to district property and, more importantly, injury to any person.
In service and solidarity,
James Ellis, 917-749-3179
Theo Boguszewski, 510-847-5781