Frightened Harlem Residents Avoiding Morningside Park

Parents are thinking twice before bringing their kids to Morningside Park on 116th Street in Harlem after two recent shootings.

The latest incident happened on June 30 at 116th and Morningside Avenue when a 16-year-old boy was reportedly approached by another man and shot twice, according to parents. The other shooting occurred on June 3. The conditions of the victims in both cases are unknown.

"I think lots of parents are very concerned because this is a park where everybody up from Columbia to down in Central Harlem and it's really an important playground for lots of little children," Judy Shen, mother of one, said.

While police are investigating the incidents, residents in the neighborhood want to look beyond the incidents and have drafted a letter asking for more police presence.

"I think in the past few days I have been seen a lot more police circling but I think it has a lot to do with parents and people in the community being a lot more active about it," Shen added.

Some 200 residents who drafted that letter to Community Board 9 are also pushing for a crackdown on littering and homeless congregations in the nearby subway station following the elimination of the token booth clerk.

Some community members have raised the issue that there is too little for teenagers to do. Funding to programs that would offer youth employment and other activities have recently been cut.

"Everybody is very, very concerned and very, very worried. I think a lot of people raise really good questions about how come activities for teenagers being cut," Shen said.

A spokesperson for Councilwoman Inez Dickens, (D-District 9) tells us the overall issue of violence in the area came up in meetings today. While they are working at that level, Dicken's office tells PIX11 they hope the community will continue to speak out.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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