two shootings of police officers, within a month of each other, right outside the precinct building, as the officers were on their way to the bodega across the street.84
In 1991, when people in the neighborhood came to Carroll for advice about the situation, he told them to go to Washington in support of the Brady Bill.85 East New York was thus one of the first communities to mobilize in support of the bill. Carroll emphasized the effort the community made, finding the money and mobilizing to send 500 people in 12 buses to the demonstration.86
As in other New York City neighborhoods, crack cocaine contributed to a major decline in the area. Drug sales and consumption were everywhere. Because of the enormous profits, many entered the market, and battles for turf became an important part of the scene. The police attempted to impose order but were behind for a number of years. In the interim, violence, which had long been a part of the East New York scene, took on an even more important role in daily life. The 75th Precinct reported 109 homicides in 1990, 115 in 1991, 92 in 1992, and 129 in 1993, when it led the city.87
In addition to the close link between drug sales and violence, Carroll stressed that the drug dealers created the street culture that was so influential on the young. Drug dealers actively recruited young boys to work for them. Their cars, jewelry, and power made them important role models, outshining the model of honest but less remunerative hard work represented by the parents of many of the young people.
Community activists pointed out some other implications of the drugs and violence. One that they stressed was the civic paralysis that accompanied the widespread violence. One group explained that, because it was hard to get people to meetings, they started to escort people to and from meetings. When this became too dangerous, they switched to escorting people by car. After a while, the program lost steam because a huge effort had to be expended before even starting a meeting. Many similar stories were recounted to emphasize the multiple levels of disconnect triggered by the violence in the streets.
Jane Jacobs, in her classic book The Death and Life of Great American Cities developed the image of the “street ballet” created by neighbors on an urban block:
The stretch of Hudson Street where I live is each day the scene of an intricate sidewalk ballet. I make my own entrance into it a little after