Equality for Flatbush’s initiative calls on Brooklyn residents to post photos and videos of NYPD presence in their neighborhoods using the hashtag #NoCommunityOccupation

Equality for Flatbush founder Imani Henry. Photo courtesy of Imani Henry.

Brooklyn-based grassroots organization Equality for Flatbush (E4F) recently launched #NoCommunityOccupation, an anti-police brutality social media campaign, to bring awareness to increased police presence in Brooklyn’s most rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods. The initiative calls on residents throughout the borough to post photos and videos of NYPD presence in their neighborhoods using the hashtag #NoCommunityOccupation. The goal, explains E4F founder Imani Henry, is to create a community mapping project to visually highlight the neighborhoods exhibiting the heaviest police presence which, he claims, are disproportionately home to people of color.

“Gentrification often talks about rising rents and demographic changes,” adds Tom Knight, a videographer for E4F. “But police violence is an inseparable part of it, because we can see on the ground where these incidents pop up.”

Founded in 2013, E4F is a nonprofit organization dedicated to anti-police repression, affordable housing and anti-gentrification efforts. The newly-launched #NoCommunityOccupation campaign was inspired by intensified police surveillance following the NYPD’s “Neighborhood Policing” initiative, which dispatches police officers as “Neighborhood Coordination Officers” to give them a friendlier face. Henry dubs it a “snitch program.”

“This is a publicity campaign, but the heart of it is that they are trying to put more surveillance in our neighborhoods,” he says. “They want people to come and complain to them.”

#NoCommunityOccupation Campaign on Instagram. Source: Equality for Flatbush/ IG

He finds that police are often summoned even in nonviolent situations where nothing illegal has occurred and shares a few examples. Earlier this month, Henry was standing outside American Star Hardware in Crown Heights, handing out fliers to petition against the store’s closure after the owner, Mohammed Kamara, had been threatened with eviction even after he tried to buy the building where he ran a business for 20 years. Henry filmed two police cruisers that had stationed themselves outside of the store well before E4F arrived.

#NoCommunityOccupation Campaign on Instagram. Source: Equality for Flatbush/ IG

Last Wednesday, Henry arrived at a residence at 699 Ocean Avenue in East Flatbush after hearing that a Haitian family was being illegally ousted a day early and that real estate agency had already begun removing their possessions. Several neighbors gathered in the hallway to observe the proceedings, but no one tried to physically intervene, he says. Shortly after, two police officers arrived after being summoned by the superintendent.

#NoCommunityOccupation Campaign on Instagram. Source: Equality for Flatbush/ IG

“Calling the police on people basically gathering around in a hallway to sit and witness and support their neighbors is ridiculous,” said Henry. “People were so outraged.”

The #NoCommunityOccupation campaign is especially relevant now, Henry said, refering to statistics about increased police violence during the summer months.

“It is true that police violence increases during this time of the year,” he says, citing the upcoming three-year anniversary for the death of Sandra Bland as another example, which E4F will honor at a public event on July 13.

For information and to get involved with the campaign, click here.

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Kindra Cooper

Kindra Cooper is a freelance journalist and copy editor. She hails from Indonesia, where she wrote features for The Jakarta Post, Indonesia's largest English-language newspaper. Once in New York, she covered...

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