Massive NYPD Raid In Harlem Does More Harm Than Good, Say Officials, Families

June 12, 2014 | Sophie Weiner

In Harlem last week, NYPD officers arrested 40 people suspected to be associated with two rival gangs in the area. The arrests took place during a massive raid of two project buildings. On WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show, Daryl Khan, New York bureau chief of the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange and a CUNY journalism professor, reported on the reactions among the families and neighbors who were caught up in the raid, along with the efforts that were being made to stop gang violence in the community prior to this police action.

Some local politicians and residents feel that the mass arrests are not going to solve the problem of entrenched gang violence, and could potentially make it worse. Mark Levine, a city council member whose district covers the area of the arrests, told the WNYC:

No amount of arrests is going to prevent the next generation of young people from getting caught up in this. We’ve got to invest positively in good experiences for young people in youth programs to prevent them from being drawn into this.

A woman named Treeva who lives in an apartment that was raided by the NYPD described the experience and its ramifications on her family, including a three-year-old niece:

They broke the door down. There’s a better way. I’m not saying all of these kids are innocent – but there’s a better way that they should be able to approach people’s apartments. My niece is hysterical seeing this. If you can’t trust the police, who can you trust?

Treating all suspects as villains ignores the context of the crimes, and can potentially breed more violence and mutual distrust in already compromised communities. The latest police intervention relied largely on Facebook posts to round up the arrestees they believed to be involved in gang activity, leaving traumatized families in its wake. (Photo: @sixmilliondollardan)