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Garden Naming Unfair to East Harlemites

By Jose B. Rivera

East Harlem, April 20, 2006. In a letter to Councilwoman Mark-Viverito dated April 20, 2006, well known and loved community activist, Marina Ortiz states her opposition to particular naming the family garden at East 114th Street.


As you may know, www.eastharlempreservation.org has been involved in drafting plans for the district-wide dedication of local streets and parks honoring East Harlem residents. My interest has been fueled by a combination of cultural/historical pride but also by concern over the lack of community input into the preservation and restoration of local landmarks and resources by outside agencies. Such is the case, I believe, with the planned memorial in the “Family Garden” on East 114th Street honoring the late Broderick John ‘JB’ Hehman, who was killed on 125th Street.

As per your recommendation during the recent monthly meeting of Community Board 11, I have researched the effort by WiredNewYork.com and the New York Restoration Project. According to WiredNewYork.comes User Remembrance Flyer (see: http://www.wirednewyork.com/jb/TLOZ.flyer.pdf)  the first location is in the 500 Block Association of 149th Street West, (Maggie’s Garden), although their memorial web page (see: http://www.wirednewyork.com/jb/garden.htm) lists both the Family Garden in East Harlem and Maggie’s Garden in Harlem.

WiredNewYork.com also directs contributors to the donations page of the New York Restoration Project (see: https://www.nyrp.org/joingive.php?action=donate) with instructions to enter in the “Comments” area: Restricted to JB Hehman Project. However, I found no such information on NYRP’s website to indicate that they have publicly sanctioned this effort, and I am therefore curious why they have not yet made the fact that they are taking in donations for this particular effort a matter of public record.

Finally, I would like to direct your attention to some of the more offensive comments made by members of WiredNewYork.com regarding Mr. Hehman’s death (see further below). While the majority of posts on this issue were quite intelligent and thought-provoking, the idea that any one of the people noted below might have anything to do with renaming a park in East Harlem leaves quite a bitter taste in my mouth.

I would therefore appreciate your assistance in helping to facilitate local participation and decision-making regarding this matter. Thank you.

Marina Ortiz


April 10th, 2006
I am sorry, but I personally am not able to discuss forgiveness yet. Those “kids” aren’t kids the way a 15 year old in the year 1800 was a kid. They are elements dangerous to society, as evidenced by the murder of our dear friend. They knew right from wrong. They knew it was wrong to gang rob somebody. A fierce, uncompromising response to “juvenile” crime is necessary to set an example of intolerance. Perhaps I need forgiveness for thinking,” Too bad it has to be these worthless thugs. Their parents are probably as messed up as they are, and I don’t care if they rot.” That’s how I feel right now. Maybe it is the anger talking. I’m familiar with the soft stance toward juvenile crime in Brazil, and look at the result. Kids literally get away with murder every day. http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=8889&page=7
April 10th, 2006

...I see this afternoon that the Daily News—to their shame—has once again trotted out the old “Wolf Pack” headline in bold red print…

Yet, I believe the comparison is perfectly logical. None of these kids would have attempted this alone. What was Kipling’s line? “The strength of the wolf is the pack and the strength of the pack is the wolf.” http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=8889&page=8

April 10th, 2006

I am dreading the lame excuses the families will make for their children’s behavior.

Amen to that. Much of the blame rests with them- they are probably the kind of parents that shouldn’t be allowed to raise a fish let alone a child. Absentee fathers and skeezer mothers don’t generally raise saintly children. http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=8889&page=9

Jennifer in Harlem, April 12th, 2006

You’re right. That is the question I’m asking. Reports have stated that these guys hesitated to go after another potential victim because they saw a patrol car. I would hope to hear that there had been more foot patrols instigated around 125 / Park—as cops on foot can be far more effective in deterring incidents on the street than the occasional passing of a patrol car.

Hi, I live in the neighborhood where JB was attacked. Police foot manpower and the lack is a major complaint with this precinct. Also, Metro North has state police manned at the 125th location. They are never visible or posted in the very corners that JB was running for help. When the cops are around, they deter crime. In the last recruitment, this area received less than 10 new recruits to cover 62,000 square miles. The real culprits in JB’s death is the community board, the local politicians and community leaders that continue to substandard police protection.

MidtownGuy, April 14th, 2006

They didn’t call an ambulance. They didn’t call for help. Rather, they stood on the street corner and laughed as he lay in the road.

No bleeding-heart routine for these creeps, please. Now, since the robbery wasn’t completed, and they’re juveniles, they’ll go free after what amounts to a slap on the wrist. Think that will discourage future mugging/killings? An example should be made of them. After the trial, their pictures should be posted in the neighborhood, detailing what they did, and what the punishment will be. And, their families should be billed for any money the state spends on housing and feeding the little monsters they raised. Zero tolerance for this stuff. If it was up to me, they’d be pilloried. A teenager knows right from wrong unless they are retarded. http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=8889&page=12  

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