East Flatbush Violence: Community Leaders React

Friday, March 15, 2013

Corner of Church Ave and 55th St. where a vigil for Kimani Gray is being held in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. Corner of Church Ave and 55th St. where a vigil for 16-year old Kimani Gray is being held in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

Details surrounding the shooting of 16-year-old Kimani Gray in East Flatbush are still emerging. And in the wake of the incident, protests and rioting have touched on larger issues of youth violence, police tactics, and economic development. We convene a conversation with Pastor Gilford Monrose, Mt. Zion Church of God (7th Day), activist and community liaisonShanduke McPhatter of G-M.A.C.C. Inc. (Gangstas Making Astronomical Community Changes Inc.); and Eric Waterman, president of East Flatbush Village, a community youth services organization.


Shanduke McPhatter, Gilford Monrose and Eric Waterman

Comments [60]

Jesse from Bronx

Anyone that's been in the streets knows what the D's look like when they hop out on you. (The D's being undercovers for the two of you that don't know.) This scenario they're tossing around about Kimani trying to defend himself from unknowns is bogus, and the fine gentleman from "GMAC" I'm sure knows that quite well. A LOT of people being extremely disingenous here, not least of all Kimani's mom. I wasn't there that night so I can't say for sure if he pulled a gun, had a gun, pointed a gun, etc., but it's likely he did. I have no particular trust for the NYPD and concede that they're a corrupt and oppressive organization themselves, BUT, the idea that they had a spare .38 on hand and then had time in the aftermath to put the kid's prints on it, plant it on him, etc. is totally unrealistic. The kid probably had a gun and brought it in view of the cops in a manner that they considered threatening. They're nervous as hell and know they'll get off, so if they perceive danger in the form of a firearm - they shoot. Everyone knows this, but chances are Kimani and his friends, like most sixteen year olds, didn't fully grasp the cruciality and finality of the scenario. Thing is, most sixteen year olds aren't in the streets at night with a loaded gun on them. It goes without saying that the police are out of control and that numerous factors, including in heavy measure institutional racism, contributed to Kimani's lot in life. I, however, don't think that it eliminates the role of personal and family responsibility in this. Mom had six children without a father in the home and clearly wasn't on her game. Kimani was, from some accounts, running the streets armed and initiating confrontations... things to consider.

Mar. 15 2013 02:56 PM
Carmen from New York

"Innocent people are being intimidated and harassed every day on the streets of this city and it's our responsibility to hold those in power accountable."
Innocent bystanders are killed EVERY SINGLE DAY by gang members all over this country, including dear BK. I choose to focus on those cold-blooded murders that happen on a much higher frequency, rather than the cops who, although sometimes tragically wrong, more often than not are working to clean-up the streets (very often the same streets on which many of them were raised) and are very much a target themselves. It's not F**k the police issue, it's a f**k the gang bangers who prey on their very own communities. Oh yes, I know your typical, tired response about, ha, crony capitalists are responsible. It's laughable, dangerous, and racist. Because gang members are too stupid to know any better about how to behave in a moral society, right? They're just animals who don't know right from wrong because of their circumstances and low wages, so it's really the corporate executive's fault, and the low-salaried beat cop? As a teacher, I hold ALL my students to the same standards, no matter what their background - no excuses. And they respect the fact that I treat them as fully-capable human beings, not just an animal specimen of their neighborhood circumstances.

In memory of of BK mom, Zurana Horton

Mar. 15 2013 01:15 PM
Bob from Brooklyn

Hey, Carmen honey... Read this:

Are you starting to see the picture? The policy of arrests at all costs?

Mar. 15 2013 12:41 PM
Bob from Brooklyn

Carmen, if you're concerned about the poverty and cycles of violence I suggest you come out strongly against the crony capitalism and the slave-wages and the debt people have to take on in order just to survive in this country.

Mar. 15 2013 12:32 PM
Bob from Brooklyn

Carmen, we are talking about our city and our police. No one is condoning gang violence or the murder of a baby. The story you're talking about took place in CHICAGO. There are plenty of other news forums where you can voice your concern about the baby getting killed. We are talking about plainclothes cops and Stop and Frisk and a kid who was shot under circumstances that are suspicious. This is about keeping the taxpayers' gang, aka the NYPD, honest and respectful in their dealings with the public. This issue goes beyond just this one killing in Flatbush. Innocent people are being intimidated and harassed every day on the streets of this city and it's our responsibility to hold those in power accountable.

Mar. 15 2013 12:29 PM
Carmen from New York

Bob, your inability to see the connection between the two stories is exactly why a climate of crime, gang activity and poverty continues to thrive in such communities. In case you were wondering how much outrage you should direct towards her death, the baby girl was black, unarmed, had no prior arrests, and was not shot by cops. I think she deserves just as much, if not more, outrage and protest from her community, her country, even. Alas, it's a story that few will hear - after all, she's just another anonymous victim of inner-city violence.

Mar. 15 2013 12:10 PM
Bob from Brooklyn

Dear Amy,

Stay in fort Manhattan and keep posting useless comments about what happens on the streets of Brooklyn.


Bob from Brooklyn

Mar. 15 2013 12:10 PM
Bob from Brooklyn

Oh, did you just hear the news update on NPR? CCRB is dismissing a bunch of cases because the statue of limitations ran out. WONDERFUL. Isn't that swell?

WHAT KIND OF GOVERNMENT DO WE HAVE IN THIS CITY!? We can't review, prosecute and penalize the police class in this city for misconduct and crimes? They are the only ones legally allowed to carry firearms and we have no recourse to hold them accountable.


Mar. 15 2013 12:07 PM
Bob from Brooklyn

Ayel is John from the Office? HAHA - maybe. Notice how they don't post at the same time!?!?!

Mar. 15 2013 12:04 PM


I agree with your comment regarding undercover police. If I'm carrying a weapon (legally) and two random guys come at me in a threatening manner, there is good chance that I will draw down on them and tell them to get the hell away from me. Undercover police should not be challenging people as if they were in uniform and identifiable.

Still, I think your search for a cause would be more successful if you looked at the gangs and the culture protects their existence.

Regarding saying that the kid had priors -- If people are rioting because they believe the mother's public statements (i.e., not a bad kid, never in a gang, never had a gun), then a little dose of the truth might help to reduce the violence.

Also... don't be too analytical about Ayel's comments. I'm betting that Ayel is really John from Office

Mar. 15 2013 12:02 PM
Amy from Manhattan

It amazes me how many people who weren't there & didn't see it are so sure they know not only what happened but what everyone's history & motivation were.

Mar. 15 2013 12:01 PM
Bob from Brooklyn

Yeah, Carmen. Way to go off topic.

Mar. 15 2013 11:59 AM
Deron from New ny

The problem has nothing to do with the child that was shot; the quality of police profession is inferior; 30 years ago the police department has officer that policed the neighborhood, and never ever drew there gun, because they had a level of integrity that commanded respect, today's police have a gun and a bullet proof vest and walk the street afraid; times don't change people do, there was always crime in New York City but the police personnel responding to the crime lack the skills or empathy they need to effectivly diffuse conflict. Most police just want to get a steady paycheck and do as little as possible. The most basic reflection of police attitude is the disregard for traffic lights and rules of the road, how many times have you seen police I the phone while driving or smoking while in uniform all of this diminishes the stature of the office of the police and call into question the level of competence, so they already have several strikes against them without. The normal stress of the job. Making a change in professional practice cost no money and will reform the department, So if there is a shooting the atomosphere around it will be one of trust.

Mar. 15 2013 11:54 AM
Carmen from New York

In Chicago, a 6-month-old baby girl was shot dead by gang members on Monday afternoon while having her diaper changed. Any plans to protest that, despite the fact that it was not police officers who shot her 5 times? Just wondering...

Mar. 15 2013 11:51 AM
Jf from The truth

20%of murders in nyc are by cop. This is racist even though the cops are not white. They wouldnt shoot me an i know because i randomly yell at cops hundreds of times. I tell them marijuana cures cancer, they should not carry a gun they are not a judge and jury and,it is not a legal death sentance to resist arrest. I would be so dead if i was black. I yell not to persecute bike riders...

Mar. 15 2013 11:44 AM
The Truth from Becky

I feel sorry for children born into this particular hell, born to parents ill equipped to raise a child, suffering from their own personal traumas so this is one of the results.

You need to have a license to fish, and no training to raise a child! Assistance is available, but not required. Damn shame.

Mar. 15 2013 11:33 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Brian, nah.
The mayor may not SAY he was fired on because he had priors.
But the mayor and the comish will most definitely bring up priors when trying to justify a shooting, etc.

Mar. 15 2013 11:33 AM
Leo from Queens

The fact that the police officers are black or hispanic it does not excuse the fact that these officers are working out on the street without any proper training, undercover with arrogance and with the knowledge that they are operating with impunity.

Unless Bloomberg, Quinn, Kelly show some humanity, humility and put away their arrogance and greed and being some serious bottom up; top to bottom reforms to bring the police department to the professional level and accountability that is needed for this city.

REMEMBER: This city has become more minority for the past 30 years yet crime has dropped significantly so we are not more criminal than whites.
what we have now is an increasingly minority police dept unleashed against poor minority communities to terrorize them. The NYPD is now a version of the KGB and the Rio de Janeiro police - and that is NOT a compliment

Mar. 15 2013 11:30 AM

If your kids need help pastor, help them! And leave the rest of us out of it.

Mar. 15 2013 11:30 AM
The Truth from Becky

"If you did nothing wrong you have nothing to fear" is garbage!! I feel sorry for the innocents living in that neighborhood.

Mar. 15 2013 11:30 AM

Leo, I agree. The cops should be attempting to make more inroads into the community, not polarize it.

Mar. 15 2013 11:29 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Ayel ain't lying. I can empathize with her fear and frustration.
Course, solving a problem usually requires an understanding of its causes (ultimate rather than proximate causes). I detect no such understanding in Ayel's comments, Sheldon's comments, etc.
An effective solution would seem to start with fostering such understanding.
An effective solution would NOT seem to come from the blah, blah, blah of the so-called reps on the line, or from fleeing...

The caller's comment about UNDERCOVER COPS is a very strong one. His suggestion that undercovers ID themselves may be somewhat naive -- anyone can say they're undercover -- but the community and NYPD need to look at rules of engagement here.

Mar. 15 2013 11:28 AM

Steve, you're wasting your time with that "insular" fellow. Some people are just incorrigible.

Mar. 15 2013 11:27 AM
USCDADNYC from Queens NY

Bob from Bklyn wrote>>>...The policy is going to cause a major riot like we saw in LA 20 years ago. Look for it...
From my moniker, one can tell that I am intimately familiar w/ the Situation in LA twenty years ago. The Rioters vented (in part)on the Korean-American Community. Who is being "Racist" here? Racial Groups that Marginalized themselves Will ONLY Lose. Especially in this age of "perceived" Terrorism.

Mar. 15 2013 11:26 AM
John from NYC

Oh, so now "members of the clergy" are supposed to instruct kids on how to handle their guns. Wow.

Mar. 15 2013 11:26 AM

Caller says "If you did nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear". I call bulls^&t! The experience of growing up in Queens in the 80's exemplified just the opposite.

Mar. 15 2013 11:24 AM
mc from Brooklyn

The caller's remarks resonate with me. About 20 years ago in this same neighborhood, I and my companions were verbally threatened by two men in a car for a full 15 minutes before they finally jumped out and identified themselves as undercover police officers. And I was not a young male person of color. Makes me wonder how much worse the encounter might have been had I and my friends been a different demographic.

Mar. 15 2013 11:23 AM
Leo from Queens

Bob From Brooklyn: You are right on!. THE IS THE PROBLEM that the police department now only works undercover and they are arrogant and don't know to behave and are inciting people to be disrespectful for them. and If they get a reaction they don't like then they execute the person - their defense if that they are cops and they were threatened.

The question is why is the NYPD moving into a secret police KGB model where they are intentionally putting police officers in danger without any regards to the damage they do because the police brass is not held accountable.

Mar. 15 2013 11:23 AM

Oh my goodness, the cops now need to pander to young kids acting like criminals.

My brother in law is a lieutenant and can't afford to live in NYC! Hello! Maybe they should be allowed to live in subsidised housing.

Mar. 15 2013 11:23 AM

The caller on right now (11:20) has made the best point so far.

Mar. 15 2013 11:22 AM
steve from manhattan

I have never commented on another listener's comment, but "John from office" has finally forced me to... In my opinion, his world view is very insular, and his definition of "normal" is either very old fashioned, or downright racist.

Mar. 15 2013 11:22 AM
The Truth from Becky

I don't know what happened but I DO know:
1) I would not want to be an officer assigned to East Flatbush on a daily and
2) You can't shoot people in the back unless they are facing away from you.

Mar. 15 2013 11:22 AM

Please address "undercover/plainclothes police. Too often mistaken identity results in violence and death. How is anyone supposed to determine in a spit second whether a cop is really a cop esp when dressed like a gangsta? Seems I've heard that sometimes "undercovers" mistake other "undercovers" and respond tragically.

Mar. 15 2013 11:22 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

THANK YOU CALLER re: plainsclothes cops

Mar. 15 2013 11:21 AM
antonio from baySide

@ John
The fact remains there is an unbalanced amount of death of a particular population...
It doesn't matter if the cops are black or hispanic, they're in a particular culture themselves...
Imagine if this happened on 7th avenue in park slope??

What is the problem is the lack of resources and or INCENTIVE to progress. They residents are buying into the only game in town..nothing.
Right now, today, anyone can learn be a to be a javaScript programmer...
Look it up. It's totally free. All you need is a browser. But you need folks who want to go in there who care..

Mar. 15 2013 11:21 AM
Amy from Manhattan

From what I've heard, the police who shot Kimani Gray were plainclothes officers. Do we know if they identified themselves as police? If they didn't, could whatever actions Kimani Gray took, whether or not he had a gun or pointed it, have been because he thought they were attacking or threatening him?

Mar. 15 2013 11:21 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Well said Bob - that's the million dollar question: Did these cops follow procedure?

Plain clothes cops, emboldened by "stop and frisk" are often rude and fail to follow police procedure - properly identifying themselves etc. Remember the Sean Bell?

Mar. 15 2013 11:21 AM

Bob from Brooklyn - i dont. but its always the same story. person displays behaviour that suggests they have gun and the police, who are people too, with families, have to disern in seconds whether or not their life is in danger. im not dead because i have never put myself in that situation. maybe the community needs to start turning on the gangs and not the police?

Mar. 15 2013 11:20 AM
Zuwena from Manhattan

My God, when are these community leaders going to get real. When is it all right for a 16 year old to have a gun; why is saying "you got me" e nough of a reason for the police to do nothing. If any of these guys had a son, daughter, father, brother or mother who is a police officer would they expect that relative to just stand there doing nothing, waiting to be shot. Moreover, police are not taught to be hesitant, they are taught to be decisive, aim accurately and not wait to see if the culprit is going to come back at them. There's no credibility in ignoring reality.

Mar. 15 2013 11:19 AM

Innocent until proven guilty applies to residents of Flatbush too. I'm A little disappointed in the conviction of this kid when all of the details haven't yet emerged.

Mar. 15 2013 11:19 AM

Didn't the undercover cops say they were cops? That is protocol isn't it? I don't believe he was shot and there was time for him to plead to the cops. This stuff happens within seconds. If a police officer sees a gun being pulled on them they are going to fire, more than 1 shot, they use semi-automatic weapons, that shot more than once. If there is more than 1 police officer there will be more than 2 shots fired. Each officer is going to protect himself and his partner. The community, parents need to work with their children and tell them not to pull guns on people, especially people with badges. Police officers are trained to use firearms and they are protecting themselves while trying to do their job which is to protect the community from gun crime. Obviously their is a gun problem if a sixteen year old has a gun. My heart goes out to his mother but she is biased in terms of this situation obviously.

Why don't the kids protest when their own peers kill their friends?

Mar. 15 2013 11:18 AM
John from NYC

What does this discussion even take place?

- Someone pulled a gun on cops and was shot. period.
- NYC cops fire their guns at less than have the rate of cops in any other large city.
- NYC crime is the lowest of any large city

- Why are we not criticizing a mother who lets her 16 year old out with a gun -- are there different standards for different groups?

Mar. 15 2013 11:17 AM

Ayel from Flatbush - well said. if a white person said that, it would be immediately called racist. The truth is gang culture has ruined the youth in the city. the gangs have to be dismantled for good. and shunned by black leadership

Mar. 15 2013 11:17 AM

PS i must admit i am heartened to see people protesting about something besides supersized sodas for a change.

but obviously more information needs to come out before anyone even know what to make of this.

if the kid did not have a gun then this is a travesty.

if the kid did have a gun then, although terribly sad for all involved, this is an open and shut case.

Mar. 15 2013 11:16 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

@ illfg - how do you know the cops didn't plant a ham sandwich?

Mar. 15 2013 11:16 AM
bernie from bklyn

it was the older brother's job to keep him off the street and make him do his homework? no, that was HER job and she didn't do it. how about her other son? this woman is a menace to society, she murdered her son- that poor kid never had a chance w/ a mother like that.

Mar. 15 2013 11:14 AM
loaded 38

"Ya Got Me!"

note to living humans: do not pull loaded 38 on cops unless you want to die.

honestly not sure what else there is to this discussion -- other than reminding everyone how brave our cops are?

Mar. 15 2013 11:13 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

Stop and Frisk has got to go. The quota on 250's is disgusting. Ray Kelly and Bloomberg are organizers of terror.

Mar. 15 2013 11:12 AM

its always the polices fault. never the person with the gun.

Mar. 15 2013 11:12 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

We don't know what happened that night. It's always unfortunate when a mother has to bury her son.

All mothers think their "babies" are angels. Based on her own words, her son had no male mentor-ship whilst growing up in an unstable home. He is only 16 but has been arrested - twice (and not for a dime bag of weed or riding a bike or the sidewalk.)

I'm not saying that he was a bad kid or deserved to die BUT it's not beyond the realm of possibility that he may have had a gun. It's clear that she did not have full control of her son. For her to say that the cops should have shot him not more than once, is naive. Someone pointing a gun at cops, or anyone - will be shot.

Taking away the "outside agitators" and "community activists." It's clear that a growing segment of young New Yorkers are losing patience with the Bloomberg's "stop and frisk" policies - which has led to poor relations with the cops.

Mar. 15 2013 11:10 AM
Bobby G from East Village

How does a sixteen year old get a gun in the first place? If Kamani Gray didn't have one he wouldn't be dead.

The people of the community should direct their outrage toward illegal gun traffickers, ostracize those in their community who possess illegal guns, and teach their kids to stay away from guns. Somebody in this community knows where all these are guns are coming from. Somebody knows where Kamani Gray got his gun.

Instead of impulsively opposing the mayor and the police maybe the community can join the effort to get illegal guns off the streets of Brooklyn and the City as a whole.

Mar. 15 2013 11:03 AM
John from office


She is a brave woman.
The good people are being run out of town.

Mar. 15 2013 11:02 AM
Ayel from Flatbush

I am black woman, living not 1/2 of a mile from East Flatbush. I understand that Kimani Gray had a difficult life. According to WNYC's reporting, he was apparently living for some time in overcrowded, marginal conditions as a result of domestic violence in his home. He was grieving the death of his brother without the benefit of professional counseling. He was living in a violent neighborhood.

But Kimani reaped what he sowed. He was a gang member, with an arrest record, and he pointed a gun at two men of color -- who just happened to be NYPD. If they had not been police, there would have been no march, no outrage, just typical retaliation.

This year, I will be leaving Flatbush. I will be selling my home here and divesting. While I have the deepest empathy for the innocents here, I cannot continue to live in the midst of this raging, violent dysfunction.

In this neighborhood I have had my purse snatched by a young black man.
I have had my car stolen by a young black man.
I have see a neighbor, Fatima Gordon, murdered literally on my doorstep by a young black man.
While the police can be callous, racist and worse, the primary issue for people like me is the violent dysfunction of young black people.

I am disgusted that community leaders would march alongside active members of the Bloods. I am disgusted that the justified, though tragic, shooting of a menace to our society --MY society-- is being twisted into some sort of martyrdom.

I feel very sorry for the Gray family. I wish their son had led a longer and better life. But nothing is going to get better until we as black people start some serious introspection and problem-solving.

Mar. 15 2013 10:59 AM
USCDADNYC from Queens NY

Bob from Bklyn wrote>>...and he tried to defend himself...
Isn't this the George Zimmerman Defense? I guess Some People want it Both Ways. Do as I say, Not do as I do.

Mar. 15 2013 10:56 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

Ever deal with a plain clothes cop on the street? They're vicious animals and generally impolite. They act like princes and they treat people like dogs. They're mentality is different than those who wear the uniform every day. There is less accountability on plainclothes cops. This dragnet stop and frisk policy is backfiring on those in power. The policy is going to cause a major riot like we saw in LA 20 years ago. Look for it.

Mar. 15 2013 10:52 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

Please don't remove comments today. It's really annoying. We can't follow the conversation or debate when comments are removed.

Mar. 15 2013 10:40 AM
bernie from bklyn

carol gray is responsible for kimani gray's death. she and all those out rioting on church ave will never understand this fact so it's pointless to try and convince them. debate over, investigation over.
now can we move on to some real, relevant news please?

Mar. 15 2013 10:37 AM from nyc

If all police are trained to react the same then we should see more shootings across racial lines. Why is this only happening to young black and latino males? You have cops being transfered out of crown heights for giving a hasidic a parking ticket while you have cops being promoted for shooting black males? Even you Brian know what the problem is (how do you react when you see a young Black male in your area)? This is police murder. Why dont you see more Black and latino cops who are quick to use deadly force against whites? BECAUSE THEY KNOW THATS IS WHEN THEY WILL BE DISOWNED BY THEIR OWNE AND PUT IN JAIL. We need federal oevrsight over this police department. kelly does not mind this. He is presiding over a most racist police deepartment: why when a Black male commits a crime they always say BLACK MALE? If its a light skinned black male they still say BLACK MALE. If its a dark skinned black male they still say BLACK MALE. It puts the whole city in a state of fear of any BLACK MALE. When they are looking for a white guy they say A MAN> Nevr a jew or italian or irish but hust a MAN. Kelly is setting the stage for confrontation. Why not have your police department treat every area like you treat the hasidics??Is it really that hard? Or you would be out of a job if you didnt have an enemy?

Mar. 15 2013 10:31 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

I love how the NYPD immediately came out to say this kid had priors. It's an automatic defensive posture to avoid a real investigation. It doesn't matter what the race of the cops. This is about the power to harass and kill at will.

We don't know if this kid attempted to signal the police that he had a weapon, or it was planted after the fact, or he got scared when 2 unidentified men came after him with weapons and he tried to defend himself.

Mar. 15 2013 10:24 AM
John from office

[[We've edited this comment to remove a line about the picture, which has been changed. - BL Producer]]

Will this case now be a daily dose of COPS = BAD = racist.

Also you have never mentioned that the cops were hispanic and black, I am sure you would have highlighted their race if they were white.

How about an examination of him and his family and the disfunction that results in a 16 year old gang member hanging on a corner.

Mar. 15 2013 10:06 AM

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