Friday, July 24, 2015

[Updated] Schoolchildren protesting NYPD patrol tower in Tompkins Square Park



A group of kids with the Middle Project JustArts Kids Camp were in Tompkins Square Park around noon to protest the NYPD patrol tower that arrived on Tuesday...

EVG correspondent Steven said that the campgoers are from the JustArts day camp, a collaboration between the Lower East Side Girls Club and The Middle Project, part of the Middle Collegiate Church on Second Avenue at East Seventh Street. The campers were chanting "No justice, no peace."





Edited to reflect the name of the day camp and affiliations

Updated 7-26

There are comments here from both Lyn Pentecost at the Lower Eastside Girls Club and the Rev. Jacqueline J. Lewis from Middle Collegiate Church (and executive director of the Middle Project).

Here is what Rev. Lewis had to say:

I want you to know the Church and the Middle Project have not yet made judgment about the tower in the park. It just got there and we have not yet discussed it. When we know, we will say. In the meantime, we will not rush to judgment, we will engage with you and the police about it, and we will do all we can to help make our community safe.

So our little people were not expressing an official opinion from the adults who shaped the camp. What they did in the JustArts Camp was to talk about justice, to talk about what it means to be citizens of the world responsible to use our voices to create a more just society, and to reflect on/do art in service of justice. Some of our children have marched for justice issues. What they did in this case was a concert in the park, and chanted No Justice, No Peace. with their drums. The camp art and conversation was focused on justice--economic, racial, lgbti, environmental...

What is great about art is it creates a space for us to reflect, to project, to imagine. All who gathered likely had different interpretations of what was happening. And each child, each family represented, might feel different about the art, about the tower, about the city, about the events in our nation that call forth voices on police reform, safely, etc. We encourage not only justice work but freedom of thought, speech, etc.

I am fascinated by this conversation, and glad for it. It is the best result of our intent. Our voices, our art, invoke/evoke/provoke conversation, reaction, new ideas, dialog, resistance, encouragement. A good conversation helps us to know each other, to be stretched by each other, to find solutions together that we hope change the world for the good. I am thrilled that EV Grieve told of this event and hosted this conversation. Thank you!

Yes, Middle Church is justice forward, working to heal our souls and our world. The Middle Project is our non-denominational non-religious partner. It works to to teach ethics to children, youth, young adults and clergy that lead to a more just society. I know you share our passion for justice. We believe that when we know justice, we will know peace.

Thank you parents, thank you LES Girls Club, thank you Middle Project Team for helping our little people use their voices. Thank you neighbors for watching the concert, for watching out for all of our community children, encouraging them, being a village for them. And thanks for engaging in this dialog.

61 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm really NOT okay with either of those. Brainwashing a bunch of kids to be anti-police is just as bad a putting up a cop tower in the middle of a peaceful park.

Richard Morrison said...

So, are people supposed to teach their children that police intimidation and surveillance is good and normal behavior. I don't think so.

JG said...

The children united, will never be divided!

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with anonymous 12:57...did these people get permission from the parents to make this statement? WTF?

Anonymous said...

What is the point of this tower? Why not simply have plainclothes police and regular police patrol the park? What is some guy sitting in a tower going to do aside from direct other people on the ground what to do?

Pinch said...

Surely these children were also engaged in a healthy conversation related to alternative perspectives about the benefits that the police provide to the neighborhood and its residents...though the chances of this are small (but of course I could be wrong). But anyway, like who cares, the police are like all bad and stuff...

Anonymous said...

How can little kids understand what is so wrong about the Police Tower? I sense their being exploited for the Cause.

Anonymous said...

If people put half the effort into removing these towers from the area around housing projects, I would have *some* sympathy for their effort to remove it from the park.

Giovanni said...

Ths s fantastic, and of course the parents knew. You folks must not know anything about Middle Collegiate Church, but surely these kids parents do This is in line with the whole mission of Midde Collegiate, one of the most progressive churches in the country. They advocate for social action. Their homepage says Black Live Matter. They are led by Rev. Jacqui Lewis, who is in the front lies for socal change, especially for civil rights issues. Their choir wears hoodies in honor of Trayvon Martin. They stage die-ins at City Hall and in Washington DC to protest police violence. Glad to see the kids getting involved, it's their world to live in next. Via middlechuch.org:

Middle Collegiate Church is a celebrating, culturally diverse, inclusive and growing community of faith where all people are welcomed just as they are as they come through the door. As a teaching congregation that celebrates the arts, our ministries include rich and meaningful worship, care and education that nurture the mind, body and spirit, social action which embraces the global community, and participation in an interfaith dialogue for the purpose of justice and reconciliation. The Rev. Jacqui Lewis, Ph.D. is Senior Minister of Middle Collegiate

DHochbaum said...

Kids should represent an aggression towards totalitarian reign since it is them who will have to deal with the exponential increase of control. Where is the anger towards kids being exploited when junk culture of sex and excessive materialism is shoved down their and the adult's throat? They are being non violent and expressive. That is a fine lesson to learn.

Anonymous said...

Why is it crazy to believe that kids can form and have their own opinions and beliefs and be able to express it? They're learning how to engage in a peaceful protest, it's not like they're throwing Molotov cocktails around.

Anonymous said...

From Middle Collegiate Church FB page:

"We are here for all of us/
That's why we are here"
These lyrics from Alicia Key's song will be sung by our children in the Middle Project JustArts Kids Camp tomorrow at 10:30 am at Middle Church and at noon in Tompkins Square Park. They will also share other musical selections. If you are in the neighborhood, come celebrate our children with us.

Perhaps someone has jumped to the conclusion that the children were holding a protest without knowing the context of the singing. Middle Collegiate has long been an advocate for the community and their children's program is only one example of teaching love, peace and justice.

Anonymous said...

Phuck da police.

Anonymous said...

I hope people understand that the towers are not occupied by police. For the most part, the tower is just a mobile surveillance point full of cameras and sensors that report back to 1PP. There is no one in there.

Anonymous said...

Leave the kids out of it, damn people you really know how to totally fuck your argument...

Anonymous said...

I guess those that do not want a police presence want the Crusties and the tents cities to return to the area. Hss anyone any recollection that the park was a dangerous place in the late 80's 2000. The 9th Precinct and other units cleaned it up. You want it back to the way it was ?? Not one child would ever had been allowed into the park back then. Don't have children push your agenda !

Anonymous said...

The church was on the street asking people to see a performance in the park. They were trying to sucker people into attending a protest by calling it a concert.

Anonymous said...

I was in the park when it happened. The camp was telling people to come see a performance. It turned out to be this.

Ken from Ken's Kitchen said...

Go Middle Collegiate Church! Go kids!

Anonymous said...

NYPD headcount is too low.

NYPD TWEET TOWER said...

OFFICER TUBBS AND I HAVE BEEN STATIONED IN THE NYPD TWEET TOWER SINCE THE AFTERNOON OF THE 21ST.

MANY THANKS TO THE KIDS AND COMMUNITY FOR THE TALENT SHOW! WE HOPE YOU COULD HEAR THE APPLAUSE FROM UP HERE.

Anonymous said...

There is no one up there. At best it's a camera position.

Anonymous said...

The Tower should be replaced by a mounted patrol. But using kids for a adult decision please. When one of them is abducted or molested by the scourge in the park the parents will be suing and Stringer will open the taxpayers purse.

Anonymous said...

Are they going to get little red books to wave also? I am a fan of discussing the issues with children... This is using them as props for your own political cause.
Shame!

Anonymous said...

Who's Park now..

Anonymous said...

#NYPD TWEET TOWER - Can you host some speaker cabinets and a disco ball for the next punk rock show? Will give a slot to Emerald Society Marching Band as long as they tune up first.

Jon Keller said...

Children are smart!

Jon Keller said...

We don't need a police tower on Tompkins Sq! It's like a prison. On the way further to a police state.

Tom Stir said...

first of all its great that the folks who are doing this are not anonymous .

big ups to them,and second why are all of you very opinionated commenters

anonymous???????????????

WHOA………!!!!!!??????

this is really becoming interesting. no??

Anonymous said...

Here's how I protest and make my opposition known. Walk by the tower, look right up at it and make a obscene blowjob miming gesture. Totally legal, and sends a clear message.

Anonymous said...

Bummed that it's an unmanned tower. Nevertheless I will continue to amuse myself imagining cops up there chomping donuts and jacking each other off.

NYPD TWEET TOWER said...

YOURE IN LUCK, WE HAVE A SOUND SYSTEM. MAYBE THE NEIGHBORHOOD PREFERS PUNK TO PITBULL. THEY CALLED 311 ON US EARLIER.

Anonymous said...

To teach children to be obedient to authority is not good parenting. Period. NYPD needs to be aware what they are up against if children begin questioning their tactics. (Because adults are too cowardly?).


LPIFLY said...

I was once a kid, as I assume most of us were at some point. Kids are pretty smart and the internet only increases their knowledge for better or worse. These kids aren't idiots, and they do have the ability to judge situations. There was probably a performance scheduled anyway at the park in that area, and they found a way to incorporate it into their social justice agenda.

I remember when the riots happened in LA and I was about this age. They didn't have to explain why beating Rodney King was bad, but they did take the time to sit us down and let us talk about it, like free human beings. I still remember the discussion.... these kids have had plenty of reasons to distrust the NYPD from media coverage.

And if nothing else, look at them learning to re-purpose plastic! You go kids!

Anonymous said...

Those patrol towers resemble AT-AT Walkers. The kids' chanting will freeze before they reach the first marker. Darth Bratton is now mobilizing more Imperial ships to ensure that the civilian populace is kept under control by the affluent and real-estate Galactic Empire.

Anonymous said...

Did the trust-funded kidults get permission from their parents to complain to the NYPD and so that the tower is installed? WTF? Oh, wait they did get permission from their mommy and daddy.

Anonymous said...

@ Tom Stir (your real name)? Your point is hardly relevant---people are given a choice here to post anonymously if they don't want spam and maybe those who might disagree with them inundating their mailbox with shit...You have a problem with that?

Given your contempt of people who don't provide a (real) name, are you saying that those who totally agree with you 100% but prefer to be anonymous are also being cowardly? If so, you are an asshole. If not, you are a hypocrite. Take your pick.

Anyway it seems to me that a lot of "names" that appear here anyway are fake and may as well by anonymous.

Serena Williams said...

As one of the parents of the kids involved, I take great offense to the fact that anyone thinks I'm brainwashing my child to be anti-cop. I am raising her to be socially conscious, and aware of her rights, as well as the rights of other human beings. I don't want her to live in a police state. I don't want her to think that police surveillance towers that look like they belong in a concentration camp rather than her neighborhood playground are are a normal part of life. Middle Collegiate Church has been active in community support, and a presence in the park helping the homeless for years. How dare anybody suggest this is brainwashing kids! It's teaching kids to speak out against things that we all have a right to discuss. The kids were beautiful, and so was their performance.

Anonymous said...

Suppose though that there was a kid who actually didn't mind the tower? Would this kid be still be considered "socially conscious"? Will he/she be rebuked as not being "correct" and should conform to the "right way" of thinking? Just curious.

Only asking as most kids that age group would be afraid to speak out if they really didn't give a shit.

btw, I do respect all opinions here, despite being anonymous....

Giovanni said...

Thank you Serena. A lot of the people here just don't get it. A lot of them actually prefer to live in a police state. They think other people's personal rights and privacy don't even matter. They read Ayn Rand and vote against their own interests but have no idea what democracy really means. Democracy means what your child did today,'standing up for their rights. Thanks for raising your kids in a socially responsible manner. Hopefully the next generation won't make the same mistakes that we did.

Anonymous said...

Of course the transients and new transplants won't know Middle Collegiate Church. They probably think that it's some sort of speakeasy bro cocktail bar where the drinks are served in chalice; there are no tables or chairs but patrons must wait knnel on and are waited on church pews; and that the waitresses are dressed as nuns and bartenders dressed in clerical clothing, but and with trilbies, of course.

Glinda said...

Please explain how this is teaching children to be "anti-police".

Christopher Pelham said...

Thank you, Serena, and other parents and children who participated in the peaceful and creative action. I feel some of you have forgotten what it is like to be a child. If an ugly police tower full of cameras suddently showed up in your playground, taking up,space where you regularly played, monitoring your every move, you would likely be disturbed. You would ask why are they there and why are they watching everything all of a sudden? And why do the the police stay in their car instead of walking around? And if the park is still full of peaceful people of all kinds enjoying themselves every day and is not more dangerous than the day before, then who decided to put the tower there anyway and why?

Anonymous said...

Police state? ... heh ... Not any more than usual. I mean you can smoke pot in the park with impunity these days (at least as long as you're white). The tower is because the Post ginned up more "New York is going to HELL under DiBlasio" news last week and it seems the park is "OUT OF CONTROL!". Obviously some, including some commenting on this blog last week, are disturbed by the historically low level of bums. My guess is because some bums moved from the chess boards to the 9th st corridor where they get seen by more ... uh ... extremely well employed newcomers. There's a lot of stuff wrong with policing in apartheid USA 2015. An NYPD tower in the park for a while is not one of them.

And yeah I post anonymously because I've had a lifetime of dealing with hobbyist ideologues of all shapes, sizes and persuasions and the social web makes them (you all?) even more annoying.

Anonymous said...

Giovanni and Serena, Middle Collegiate Church does not preach inclusiveness.

If I am wrong point to your TOKEN republican conservative who believes in Ann Raynd or your Koran believing member etc. And if it was inclusive where was the priest from the Ruthenian Church, the rabbis from the many synagogues, the priest from the area Catholic Church, the Russian Orthodox, Romanian, and Wicca and Santeria and all the real varied options are call EV home.

And Serena are you so far gone to believe honestly and truly that your child had a choice once you explained the relevance and importance of what the "performance" was all about, according to you?

“In every age it has been the tyrant, the oppressor and the exploiter who has wrapped himself in the cloak of patriotism, or religion, or both to deceive and overawe the People."

(Canton, OH, Anti-War Speech, June 16, 1918)”
― Eugene V. Debs, Voices of a People's History of the United State

Anonymous said...

Car 54 where are you

Serena Williams said...

First, some of you are acting like this was an organized protest against the police. The kids-who are at a daycamp (that qualifies as non-denominational, were scheduled to give a performance in the park, under the big tree where the surveillance equipment now stands. The daycamp is for the ARTS. It also emphasizes social justice. So, before you naysayers all get your britches up in a tangle, understand and realize that you are blowing this way out of proportion. The kids were actually giving a show with the material that they have learned at camp--which were songs! Part of the camp's mission is to also teach social justice. As you can see on the flier, another performance was given at the church, and the one in the park was for the benefit of the people who could not attend the first performance as well as any onlookers who wanted to see the kids do their thing. I'm afraid you can't call the performance at the church "a protest" and this was the same event.

The fact that the surveillance tower is set up at the location which was predetermined is a little aside, as the performance would have happened whether it had been there or not. The fact that some people infer that due to the presence of the surveillance equipment, this was an actual protest is not on the kids, or the camp but on those who are projecting it to be one. Were you there? No. Did anyone ever say this was a protest? No. It was a bunch of kids performing with a gargantuan tower scaling over them, that was a blemish to visuals. So--what was the intrusive element? The kid singing? Or the tower looming over their show? That you are so quick to jump to conclusions is the problem. The kids did not think they were protesting. Nobody told them that the tower was BAD. So, all of this is just hogwash.

The fact that I have no problem with my kid doing a show in the park is not any one else's business, and if people think this is activism, all the more power to the whole thing. I personally would not care if she did join at a protest. I went to plenty as a kid and I understood exactly what I was doing and I'm not against that, nor do I think it is using kids as pawns. I personally am not a fan of the tower and if you infer that she is protesting something she doesn't understand, I counter that with you don't seem to understand that it was a pre-scheduled performance, and it's you who do not understand because the tower's presence is coincidental. However, I'm not telling anyone else what they can or can't do with their kids and I'd appreciate that nobody dictates what I must do with mine. I do want my daughter to be socially conscious, but she doesn't think she attended a protest. She thinks she gave a show. And before you really know the facts, perhaps you shouldn't be so quick to jump to erroneous conclusions. If you weren't there, you don't know what happened. And if you have a problem with kids singing in the park, that's on you.

Serena Williams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
nygrump said...

I believe this tower is provacation to see what results - to see who pops up their heads - so thee Federalized NYPD can lop off the heads...or at least roll up some local networks. You have to understand post-colonial internal policing is to take out any resistance before it even knows it has begun.

Lyn Pentecost said...

FYI- more than half of the children at this event are members of The Lower Eastside Girls Club on Avenue D. The two week JustArts summer camp, focusing on social justice and the arts, was a collaboration between Middle Church and the Girls Club. And for the record- we do object to the tower in the park!

Though we couldn't have anticipated a surveillance tower in the park when we planned this project four months ago- the NYPD has certainly provided our children with a concrete example of what is wrong with community-police relations in NYC. There is no way to even open a dialogue about community issues- whether it is guns on the street, homelessness, an out of control bar scene, or even rats-when the police barricade themselves in patrol vans and prison like towers.

Some might want 'war', but we want 'peace'. And that's a good lesson to teach our children. The first song the girls sang in yesterday's performance was Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down". This is our neighborhood- and we won't back down!!!!

Anonymous said...

if Officer Tubbs had any community training, he would've invited Serena's kid to perform from the tower.

Anonymous said...

I think everyone is over reacting. The police , the ev residents and the kids. Deep breath.

Anonymous said...

@ 1:32PM If everyone is overreacting, then maybe you are the one who is underreating. And don't try to tell people how to react, that is condescending and patronizing to put it nicely.

Anonymous said...

It's a sad comment on the state of affairs when people in the East Village desire a surveillance tower that stands as high as a stately old tree to restore order in their most beautiful park. It's also sad that so many current residents oppose the arts, activism and children's voices and equate liberal thought as being synonymous with idiocy. They are undoubtedly the reason that Trump is so popular. There are plenty of gated communities to escape to where the residents are rest assured that anyone who doesn't look like them will be arrested on sight. If you feel you are at risk in Tompkins Square Park, perhaps you should relocate (or return) to one of them. It's been an unfortunate loss that the Village has driven out most of the artists and flocks of individuals who made it the unique place that it once was been reputed to be in favor of a homogenized, corporate interest real estate market for entitled classists. But even when it was filled with unsavory elements, we still managed to make it work. And we did it without police "protection" for the most part.

I have a hard time believing that there is not a less obtrusive way to operate surveillance equipment, that doesn't involve a sky high cherry picker, branded with the NYPD logo for all to see when they look up at the sky. Furthermore, that people should become indignant over any objection to it when we've all been able to get along for nearly two centuries without it is an anomaly. We do not have to accept that we have no rights as citizens in our community to protest what happens in our public parks, particularly when they are so glaringly imposing and impossible to ignore. If anyone truly feels safer due to this monstrosity, perhaps they should reconsider living here at all, because it's delusional to think that this sort of thing will result in anything lasting or positive, and to expect that everyone in the community should welcome or even tolerate its presence is preposterous. The only way to not "back down" is to speak up. Children can speak up too, particularly when it involves their most valuable outdoor space. Fortunately, there is still some of the leftover spirit from days of yore to oppose the powers that be, and that is a good thing. Teaching children to work together peacefully to effect change is not something to be scoffed at, but celebrated, and hooray for Middle Collegiate for being at the forefront of such activism. The issue at hand is not camp kids who are protesting. The kids were going to perform with or without the surveillance tower. The fact that some saw it as a protest because it looked like it might be one is only because the police have made a statement of their own, in setting up shop right where the Hare Krishnas have always congregated, and making a spectacle of themselves. Leave the kids out of it. They didn't ask to be objectified or debated over. They only wanted to do a show, and the NYPD upstaged them.

Trevor Ristow said...

"The campers were chanting "No justice, no peace."

Was this self-parody theater?

Anonymous said...

@July 25, 2015 at 2:19 PM

"I have a hard time believing that there is not a less obtrusive way to operate surveillance equipment"

If you believe that the only NYPD surveillance of the park is in the tower then I'll sell you a bridge. I don't have an automatic "all cops bad" mentality (nor do I have an all cops good viewpoint). The tower is pure theater.

Anonymous said...

So the kids have taken up to standing up for their rights and I'm proud of them in doing so and proud of their parents for teaching them that it's what they're supposed to do if someone tells you that you're living in what is supposed to be a free society.

I think the most important factor to teach them though is that it doesn't really stop with the police, it goes above the heads of the police to the prosecutors, to the judges and ultimately to the "commander in chief" because after all he's supposed to be in charge of all these idiots to begin with.

So what we really need to be instilling in all the children is that all of these individuals in the government in the political fray they have a responsibility to all of us. They are ANSWERABLE to all of US. They do not stand on their own self dealing as we have all become so accustomed to them doing.

It is time now to rise up and begin to set things straight. It is time to put the self dealing cronies behind bars and make the children aware that this is where they belong when they do the things they do. That is how you get real change by teaching the children right and wrong and the consequence of one's actions and I don't mean their own.

We the adults must teach them by example that when the other adults don't play fair or when they lie and cheat that they will then be placed in custody themselves and not have their wrong doings cost all of us and that they are then protected and insulated by their political office.

I applaud the children and the parents and I say the next step is getting those kids marching, marching in mass to overcome this fascist regime that is now working to take over the world.

Welcome to your New World Order

The Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis said...

Good morning neighbors.

This is your neighbor, The Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, Senior Minister at Middle Collegiate Church and Executive Director of The Middle Project.

I want you to know the Church and the Middle Project have not yet made judgment about the tower in the park. It just got there and we have not yet discussed it. When we know, we will say. In the meantime, we will not rush to judgment, we will engage with you and the police about it, and we will do all we can to help make our community safe.

So our little people were not expressing an official opinion from the adults who shaped the camp. What they did in the JustArts Camp was to talk about justice, to talk about what it means to be citizens of the world responsible to use our voices to create a more just society, and to reflect on/do art in service of justice. Some of our children have marched for justice issues. What they did in this case was a concert in the park, and chanted No Justice, No Peace. with their drums. The camp art and conversation was focused on justice--economic, racial, lgbti, environmental...

What is great about art is it creates a space for us to reflect, to project, to imagine. All who gathered likely had different interpretations of what was happening. And each child, each family represented, might feel different about the art, about the tower, about the city, about the events in our nation that call forth voices on police reform, safely, etc. We encourage not only justice work but freedom of thought, speech, etc.

I am fascinated by this conversation, and glad for it. It is the best result of our intent. Our voices, our art, invoke/evoke/provoke conversation, reaction, new ideas, dialog, resistance, encouragement. A good conversation helps us to know each other, to be stretched by each other, to find solutions together that we hope change the world for the good. I am thrilled that EV Grieve told of this event and hosted this conversation. Thank you!

Yes, Middle Church is justice forward, working to heal our souls and our world. The Middle Project is our non-denominational non-religious partner. It works to to teach ethics to children, youth, young adults and clergy that lead to a more just society. I know you share our passion for justice. We believe that when we know justice, we will know peace.

Thank you parents, thank you LES Girls Club, thank you Middle Project Team for helping our little people use their voices. Thank you neighbors for watching the concert, for watching out for all of our community children, encouraging them, being a village for them. And thanks for engaging in this dialog.

Very truly yours,

Jacqui

@RevJacquiLewis

Anonymous said...

Right on! Beat cops not prison towers. Enough propoganda intimidation...so not American Democracy. Stop using cops to move real estate its shameful.

Anonymous said...

'Emphasizes social justice'. More self loathing liberal whites who are morons. What does 'social justice' mean? Dead cops? Crazy homeless running wild? Sad.

Anonymous said...

See you yuppies never had the learning experience of being randomly stopped and brutalized for being poor or different. Authority isnt about right and wrong its about subservience under threat of violence. The golden rule as we all know, "he who as the gold makes the rules".yuppie gentrification is just an extension of colonialist apartheid type policies and attitudes. You all are fucking bannally evil (public school sic?)