Who Protects New Yorkers from the NYPD?
Nicholas Heyward is a haunted man. He is one of many New Yorkers who have lost loved ones to the police. Nineteen years ago, Heyward’s son was playing with a toy gun in the stairwell of a Boerum Hill housing project in Brooklyn, New York, when he was fatally shot by an NYPD officer. Nicholas Jr. was 13 years old when he was killed.
“I heard Nick say, ‘We’re playing,’ and then I heard a boom,” Katrell Fowler, a friend of Nick Jr.’s told the New York Times shortly after the incident. Yet blame was placed on the boy’s toy rifle, instead of officer Brian George, who fired his very real revolver into the child’s abdomen.
The tragedy Heyward suffered has turned him into an activist. These days he spends much of his time calling for the Justice Department to review cases of alleged abuse committed by the NYPD, including that of his son’s. Heyward claims he had a deposition taken by his attorney in which officer George contradicts reasons cited by Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes—currently up for reelection and the subject of a new reality show on CBS—for closing the case.
“Hynes said the stairwell was dimly lit, it was not. Hynes said George was responding to a 911 call, he was not.” Heyward has written several letters to Hynes over the years, he said, without receiving a response. In 2001, he was granted a meeting with the Brooklyn DA, after confronting him at a press conference. Heyward pleaded his case in Hynes’s office but nothing came of it. The DA’s office declined to comment on Heyward’s allegations when I called them yesterday, saying that since the case is more than ten years old, the office did not have the case’s file on hand. But for Heyward, the the pain of the slaying of his 13-year-old boy are still very fresh.
“I want the officer who murdered my son to go to jail,” he said to me, dressed all in black and holding a school-portrait photograph of his son over his heart at a protest last Friday in front of the Federal Court building in Manhattan’s Foley Square to demand the Justice Department appoint an independent prosecutor to scrutinize the death of his son and those of other’s killed by the NYPD.
Heyward is not alone in his suspicion of foul play in Hynes executions of justice. The DA has recently come under great scrutiny for spending years refusing to review convictions that he and his predecessor obtained through working with a homicide detective of such dubious repute. Last week, the Hynes office was forced to reopen 50 cases in which NYPD Detective Louis Scarcella was involved, after the Times uncovered that he obtained false confessions, lied, and relied on testimony from a single, crack-addicted prostitute to obtain a number of convictions. While families of those convicted through Scarlla’s police plan to start bird-dogging Hynes, others, like Heyward, have vowed to win justice for those they will never see again.
Here’s David Roth on the New York Baseball Mets, which are less like a baseball team than an especially biting satire that keeps getting progressively more difficult to laugh at.
Like clothes or looking at people who take themselves super seriously? Great. You’ll love our New York Fashion Week photo blog.
Chipping Away at Stop-and-Frisk
Fifty-one-year-old Charles Bradley finished his shift as a security guard and took the subway to visit his fiancée. The two made plans to meet the day before. Charles had moved out of the apartment they shared on 1527 Taylor Ave., in the Bronx after a disagreement. It might have been a night of reconciliation. But instead, it was a night spent interrogated in a van, strip-searched at the station house, and called “a fucking animal,” thanks to the NYPD and Operation Clean Halls, which allows police officers to patrol private apartment buildings in high crime areas in New York City since 1991.
The Czechs of Montauk
By Aaron Lake Smith. Illustrations by Mike Taylor.
After the one hundred and twenty mile journey east from New York City to the furthest end of Long Island, my train came to the end of the line in Montauk. I stepped off the platform, brushing past the hordes of fashionable city-dwellers emerging from the maw of the LIRR train with their sunglasses and wheeled luggage in tow, rushing over to hybrid SUVs to be picked up by family and friends already well-acclimated to the syrupy pace of life at the ocean’s edge. I phoned my contact—a Czech guy named Lukas who I had met randomly in a New York City park—but he didn’t pick up. This was fine, as I felt like exploring alone anyway. The day felt pregnant with possibility and I wanted to wander around without the burdensome presence of a companion. I set off down a narrow, twisting road by the bay, past faded lobster fisheries and decrepit abandoned sea shacks, laundry lines strung up with cloth diapers and bras. Kennedy-esque middle-aged men, Yankees and WASPS, paused from working in their yards to wave hello.
I prowled behind the abandoned sea shacks, scouting for places to sleep in case Lukas never returned my phone call. In fact, I had so reconciled myself to the prospects of sleeping alone outside an abandoned house with a campfire and the moon, that I almost didn’t pick up when Lukas called back. He said that he was working at the bike shop all afternoon and that I should I come down. I traipsed along the highway, stopping to smell the flowers and admire the scenery. I loved the sand dune mountains and little green lakes and as I walked daydreamed of building a shack near the beach and forming a community, like Gene O’Neil in Provincetown. The whole set-up of the town had a smallness of ratio to it that reminded me of a different country. After an hour of walking, I emerged in downtown Montauk, among the ice cream shops and the clapboard-white savings bank and nostalgic-looking diners. A big gang of the young Czechs were in the bike shop, covered in grease—they smiled and let me stash my bag in the back room, telling me they would get off around six.
I spent the day alone on the beach, beside hirsute guidos and their families burying each other neckdeep in the sand. I dipped my feet into the surf, enjoying the anonymity on the shore and the cold Atlantic licking at my toes. After baking in the sun a while, I beat my chest and jumped into the frigid ocean, thinking of the old Polish men that swim at dawn on Coney Island and cobwebby Kate Chopin and her Awakening.
Montauk, the Czechs assured me, was ‘a strange place,’ a low-rent, paranoiac-filled version of the Hamptons. A closed down World War II army base at the edge of the island called Camp Hero was outfitted with an enormous, defunct military satellite, rusting back in the woods. That night, the Czechs drove me out to their compound a couple of miles inland from the ocean. Rusted metal and trash lay strewn across their overgrown yard. Several rugged-looking young men sat out on the back porch finishing a case of beer, nodding as we rolled up. Inside, their house looked like a wrecked frat. Wet toilet paper covered the bathroom floor and most of the furniture was ragged. The garbage can in the kitchen overflowed with beer cans and a giant vat of grim-looking stew bubbled on the encrusted stove.
“Czech stew—veery gude,” Lukas said, flashing a toothy grin. The Czechs were temporary workers, just in Montauk for the summer, and seemed to live frugally. Upstairs, they were living two or three to a bedroom. I peeked my head inside one of the rooms and saw a couple of silhouettes sleeping on bare mattresses lining the floor.
After a quick meeting on the porch, it was decided that we would go fishing. We piled into an SUV and drove toward the beach, careening down a trail marked Service Road—Identification Required! and popping on a wild and rocky shore. A tall, handsome blond Czech named David drove us—by the way everyone talked to him, it was clear he was the leader. Later, it was explained to me that David had been the first to ‘discover’ Montauk. He had opened up the town to the Czech community and its temporary jobs. The others came only because of him so he was deferred to in all manner of decision. Coming from a landlocked country, many of the Czechs had never seen the ocean, and seemed to regard it with awed reverence.
David threw the SUV into gear and we lurched down the beach over huge rocks and boulders. David turned up the stereo, which was playing Aerosmith’s “Living on the Edge.” I felt like we were in a car commercial.
In this episode of Scion A/V and VICE’s eight-part documentary series Young Americans, we head to Ithaca, New York, where we get to learn more about the college town and the realities of the people who live there.
We Interviewed Troy Ave
Here is all of the relevant information about Troy Ave, the rapper whose profile you are about to read. He’s a 26 year-old male human being, born and bred in New York City. He derives his name from Troy Ave, the street he grew up on in Crown Heights. He’s the type of rapper whose fame mainly resides in the hood, which is important if you want to be a successful street rapper. He lives on the border of Queens and Bed-Stuy, about thirty minutes out on the J train if you’re lucky, and owns a grey Jeep and at least one gun. In person, he is hyperbolically charismatic.
Troy and I meet at his Queens residence, chaperoned by his manager Hovain, an industrial oven of a human who’s known Troy since they were kids. Troy bounds out of his building, wearing brownish jeans, a Louis Vuitton belt and a white t-shirt featuring a naked lady wearing a gigantic head that resembles Barney the dinosaur. On Troy’s own head sits a pair of Versace sunglasses and a blue bandana, tied in the front, Tupac-style, so that if you’re standing close to him you can see the designer label on the tag. He seems hung over, but not unencumberedly so. He looks at my Knicks hat, and without missing a beat, says, “New York Knicks? You New York BRICKS today, son!” He disappears into his house and about two minutes later bounds out sporting a hat that looks remarkably like mine, except this one says “New York BRICKS” on it where the Knicks logo should be. The hats are Troy’s; he sells them on his website for thirty dollars.
Next order of business: He has no idea where the fuck he parked his Jeep last night. He asks Hovain, and he has no idea either. Troy remembers the majority of what happened last night—he was at a club called WIP in SoHo—but he has no idea where the fuck he put his goddamn Jeep when he got back. We check the street, and the Jeep turns up, about a quarter of a mile from his place. It’s gun metal grey, and has a top that he hasn’t dropped this year except for one time in February when he decided to put on a mink and roll around in the freezing cold. There are less awesome ways to spend a random afternoon, but there are not many of them.
Troy’s putting the finishing touches on Bricks In My Backpack 3: The Harry Powder Trilogy, his upcoming mixtape that he hopes will push him over the edge and help him be the next in a recent line of New York rappers who have found widespread popularity. Each of these rappers—A$AP Rocky, Action Bronson and Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire—rap with wildly disparate styles, but within their diversity contain something about them that’s distinctly New York. Rocky’s an uptown aesthete who reinterprets regional styles with the attitude of Cam’ron or Max B, Action Bronson is a food-obsessed throwback to the classic New York of the early ’90s, and eXquire’s got a hard-nosed weirdness about him that speaks alternatively to the hardcore of Black Moon and the classic days of El-P’s Def Jux label. There is no hard and fast antecedent to Troy Ave, however. He speaks lovingly of the ghetto Horatio Alger narrative of 50 Cent, but while 50 jumped ship to pop as soon as he had Dr. Dre on speed dial, Troy doesn’t have a poppy bone in his body. It’s not that he wouldn’t like to cross over—he has aspirations of signing to a major label and becoming New York’s version of Young Jeezy—but if he makes it big, it’ll be on his own terms.
In the 1980s Koos van den Akker made a ream of resplendent patchwork sweaters for Bill Cosby that cemented his style in the fashion world. I’ve always liked his style, so to pay homage to him I drew his face, based on a portrait from an article we ran on him in 09′, complete with daggers of creativity entering his skull, and released it haphazardly into the ether that is the internet. A couple of months later I got a message on my YouTube from the actual Koos asking if he could use the image. “Of course,” I said, “I did it in your honor, do what you will with it, fine sir.” The reply was something I wasn’t expecting: “That’s so sweet of you, you didn’t ask for a penny. Hey, in return, do you want to come to New York for a month and work with me in my studio? You can even stay in my spare 5th Ave apartment.”
Read the rest at Vice Magazine: NEW YORK ON KOOS - Viceland Today