Tag Archives: east elmhurst

Elmhurst man killed in Christmas morning hit-and-run


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A man died early Wednesday morning after a car struck him in East Elmhurst before fleeing, police said.

Enrique Clemente-Ovando, 29, of Elmhurst, was crossing Astoria Boulevard, near 103rd Street, about 4:30 a.m., when the vehicle hit him, according to the NYPD.

Clemente-Ovando was taken to Elmhurst Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The car, which did not remain at the accident scene, may be a beige Toyota Camry with a Pennsylvania registration, police said.

The investigation is ongoing.

 

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Op-ed: The spirit of giving


| oped@queenscourier.com

COUNCILMEMBER JULISSA FERRERAS

Every year, the holiday day season gives us an extra special opportunity to reflect upon our blessings and take time to give back to those we love.

With Chanukah just ending and Christmas and Kwanzaa fast approaching, it’s clear that the spirit of giving is already in the air – almost everywhere you look you see folks with shopping bags full of holiday presents just waiting to bring joy.

While I have always found truth in the age-old saying “Tis better to give than to receive,” I could not help but relish the happiness that one sizable gift brought to our community last week.

On November 26, just days before Thanksgiving, I had the pleasure of joining Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and representatives from the Queens Museum and the Queens Economic Development Corp. at Corona Plaza to announce an $800,000 leadership gift from J.P. Morgan Chase to the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership.

This gift will not only benefit countless New Yorkers by creating 100 jobs for workers maintaining 20 of the City’s existing plazas, but it will also ensure that the DOT’s community partners in under-resourced neighborhoods, like Corona, will have the support they need to maintain clean, green and vibrant public plazas.

Since 2008, the DOT has installed 22 plazas throughout the City, and it plans to bring another 37 in the near future with the goal of putting all New Yorkers within a 10-minute walk of quality open space.

Corona Plaza is a perfect example of how effective and important these green spaces are to our local neighborhoods. To so many children who grow up in apartments without any front or back yards, neighborhood plazas are the only safe access they have to the outdoors.

Just 18 months ago, the site where Corona Plaza now sits was open to traffic and cluttered with parked trucks, causing a safety hazard for all pedestrians entering and exiting the nearby subway platform. Today, the plaza is a space bursting with activity, serving as the go-to destination where locals can have a cup of coffee, exercise outdoors and enjoy free family-friendly events.

Public plazas go a long way in helping our communities enhance economic activity, air quality, community safety and the overall quality of life.

Although Chase’s gift will undoubtedly go a long way in improving plazas throughout the City, it’s clear that there is still much work that needs to be done. The cost just to maintain Corona Plaza alone ranges between $50,000 and $75,000 every year, not including the hundreds of volunteer hours donated by those who want to add to the beautification efforts.

This holiday season, I urge everyone to spend time at their nearest neighborhood plaza and consider the immense benefits they generate. If you can spend just a fraction of your time investing in your local plaza, you will not only help improve these vital green spaces, but you will also create a better future for generations to come.

In the spirit of giving, please consider volunteering at your local plaza today. The gift of your time will surely be one that keeps on giving!

To learn more about the services offered by the DOT Public Plaza Program, please visit www.nyc.gov/plazas or contact 311 or plazas@dot.nyc.gov.

Councilmember Julissa Ferreras represents the 21st Council District encompassing Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, Corona and Jackson Heights. Through her leadership, Corona Plaza continues to be a premiere outdoor destination for the local community.

 

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Queens native to host youth baseball clinic


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Anthony Iapoce

A Queens native is hoping to establish a new baseball culture in the borough to foster more skilled players.

Anthony Iapoce, currently a hitting coordinator with the Chicago Cubs, has two decades of professional baseball experience playing and coaching with various teams. He will host his first youth baseball clinic on Saturday, December 14 at Fitzgerald Gym at Queens College from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“The most important factor in the camp is just being influential to the kids and teaching them the right fundamentals when it comes to the game,” Iapoce said.

The camp is the first in a series he hopes to expand before introducing a borough-wide clinic for coaches to learn advance drills and network.

Iapoce, who is a native of Astoria, grew up playing baseball in Queens. He played Catholic Youth Organization baseball at St. Joseph’s parish, and later at Monsignor McClancy Memorial High School in East Elmhurst.

After playing college baseball for Lamar University in Texas, he played for 11 years in the minor leagues with the Milwaukee Brewers and the Florida Marlins (now Miami Marlins), where he compiled a .273 batting average in 845 games and reached Triple-A– the highest level before the major league.

After he stopped playing baseball, he became a coach in the Marlin’s minor league system and then a hitting coordinator with the Toronto Blue Jays. Last year, he received a call from the Cubs to provide hitting guidance for their minor league players. Having traveled around the country for a long time, he recently moved back to Queens and is excited about establishing a camp in his hometown.

“This is a huge deal for me, because it’s the first camp I’ll do where I’m from,” Iapoce said. “It hits the heart pretty good. It gives you goosebumps just talking about it.”

His clinic at Queens College will be limited to about 35 players so that he can give more personal attention to each participant. Iapoce and fellow minor league coaches and players will focus on improving the youngsters’ fundamentals and mechanics in all positions. He hopes to create the coaches’ clinic based on the success of the camps.

“What we are trying to do in Chicago is create a winning culture in the minor leagues,” Iapoce said. “We are trying to create this culture of teaching in Queens, more importantly to the coaches.”

For more information about Iapoce’s baseball clinic, contact him at 347-351-5233 or click here. The camp cost $145 for one player or $125 per player for a group of five and is open to boys and girls from ages nine to 13.

 

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St. Michael’s Cemetery looking to expand


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of St. Michael’s Cemetery

St. Michael’s Cemetery in East Elmhurst is looking to expand in order to continue serving the community — both in this life and after.

In order to make sure St. Michael’s, located at 72-02 Astoria Boulevard, does not run out of space and continues to serve the community, the cemetery is in talks to purchase a city park space located by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) and 30th Avenue.

According to Ed Horn, a St. Michael’s official, the park property has been abandoned for years and there is no access to the space except through the cemetery.

“It’s not a park, it has never been a park,” said Horn. “The cemetery is a vital resource for the community. There is a great civil and social purpose for acquiring this land.”

In order for St. Michael’s to purchase the land, it must work with the Parks Department to identify replacement parkland.

“The land is not a park, it’s completely in despair,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris, who is sponsoring the bill in the Senate for the cemetery to obtain the land. “It’s not functional at the moment. This presents an opportunity for a win-win. A small business gets to utilize a place in despair and we get a park space in return.”

The narrow park strip which the cemetery is looking to acquire was designated to serve as a landscaped buffer along the western side of the BQE, according to a Parks spokesperson.

They added the city is still in discussions with St. Michael’s Cemetery and the Department of Citywide Administrative Services about obtaining the site and about finding the best replacement.

“Right now, the cost of a local funeral is very high, mostly due to a shortage of cemetery space in our community,” said Assemblymember Aravella Simotas. “Permitting an abandoned and generally inaccessible parcel of parkland to be used by St. Michael’s Cemetery would stabilize plot costs and prevent our loved ones from being priced out of a burial in their own community.”

 

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Cops searching for suspects in East Elmhurst kidnapping


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Sketch courtesy of NYPD

Police are looking for a group of men who allegedly abducted and beat a woman after they struck her with their vehicle as she was riding her bicycle.

The 52-year-old victim was traveling down 30th Avenue near 74th Street at 11:25 a.m. on Saturday, July 20 when the suspects’ van hit her and knocked her off her bike, said cops.

The suspects then grabbed the woman and forced her into the vehicle. Once inside, they blindfolded the victim, tied her up and began to beat her, repeatedly asking her “where is the money,” according to police. The beating and questioning continued until they threw her out of the van near 98th Street and Northern Boulevard about 15 minutes later.

There were four to five male Hispanic suspects in the van, a light green 2002-2004 Honda Odyssey, said authorities.

Police have released a sketch of one of the suspects and describe him as 35 years old, dark-skinned, five feet 10 inches tall and 280 pounds.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

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East Elmhurst boy runs five-mile race to raise money for autism program


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Larry Sillen

Max Moore has crossed the finish line to make a difference.

The nine-year-old from East Elmhurst put on his running shoes to run in the June 30 Achilles International Hope and Possibility Five Mile Race in Central Park for the second time. This year, the youth raised $1,279 in funds online, surpassing his goal of $1,000. He ran to increase awareness for the Art Access Autism Initiatives at the Queens Museum.

“We are extremely proud of him and thrilled we can help to support such an amazing program,” said father John Moore.

Max, who is autistic himself, has been involved in the Art Access Autism Initiatives for over a year. According to his parents, the program has served as both a great social and artistic experience, allowing Max to get creative along with his family and other participants at the museum.

“The gifted people that work with the kids are always so engaged, talented and truly [invested] in the kids in the program,” said Moore.

This year Max beat his best time and finished the race in one hour and one minute. He ran alongside his dad and Marissa Fong, a guide provided by Achilles Kids, a non-profit organization that provides training and racing opportunities for children with disabilities. Max has participated in Achilles Kids’ running program for over two years.

“They all really take the time to get to know the boys and girls that are involved,” said Moore. “They knew to pair someone quick and fit with Max because they really know Max – what motivates him, what excites him, what engages him, his challenges and his triumphs.”

His dad and mom, Jacqueline, said they do not know for sure whether Max will continue participating in the race, but added they certainly hope he will. They said he takes a great deal of pride and joy in his running experience, and gets excited days ahead of his weekend runs with Achilles.

“The infectious nature of his enthusiasm affects the whole family, and we can’t say enough about how constructive and positive an experience [it] has been for all of us,” said Moore.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Thursday: Clear in the morning, then partly cloudy. High of 81. Winds from the West at 5 to 15 mph shifting to the South in the afternoon. Thursday night: Partly cloudy in the evening, then clear. Low of 63. Winds from the SSW at 5 to 15 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY:  Live in the Sky Concert Series

Come to the Z Hotel in Long Island City on Thursday nights for its Live in the Sky Concert Series featuring live performances, drink specials and a hand rolled cigar bar. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

UFT endorses Thompson for NYC mayor

New York City’s massive teachers’ union is backing former City Comptroller Bill Thompson for mayor. Read more: AP

James Gandolfini, star of ‘The Sopranos,’ dies at 51

James Gandolfini’s lumbering, brutish mob boss with the tortured psyche will endure as one of TV’s indelible characters. Read more: AP

East Elmhurst rezoning would keep neighborhood feel: city

More than 125 blocks of East Elmhurst will be rezoned to both protect the residential character of the neighborhood, but also bolster Astoria Blvd. as the area’s shopping strip, said city officials, who will present the plan Thursday. Read more: New York Daily News

Amtrak: Track problem to blame for LIRR derailment

A track issue was likely to blame for a derailment on the Long Island Rail Road that left hundreds of commuters stranded this week, Amtrak announced Wednesday. Read more: CBS New York

New York City police unions livid over bill on racial profiling

New York City police unions are lining up to blast a bill they say would handcuff them from doing their job. Read more: CBS New York

New U.S. climate strategy coming within weeks: Obama adviser

President Barack Obama will target carbon emissions from power plants as part of a second-term climate change agenda expected to be rolled out in the next few weeks, his top energy and climate adviser said on Wednesday. Read more: Reuters

Burglar wanted in 13 apartment building thefts


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

Police are looking for a man who stole cash from the basement change machines of 13 different Queens apartment buildings.

The burglaries occurred between April 18 and May 20 in the Forest Hills, Rego Park, Woodside and East Elmhurst sections of the borough, said officials.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto Crime Stoppers website by texting their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

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Three charged with kidnapping, holding Queens man for month in $3M ransom attempt


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

BY CRISTABELLE TUMOLA AND ANGY ALTAMIRANO

Three men have been arrested for kidnapping a man off a Jackson Heights street in broad daylight and holding him in a warehouse for a month in a $3 million ransom attempt, the district attorney’s office said Wednesday.

Christian Acuna, 35, of Corona, Dennis Alves, 32, of East Elmhurst, and Eduardo Moncayo, 38, of Lyndhurst, New Jersey, are currently awaiting arraignment on kidnapping and unlawful imprisonment charges. If convicted, each of the men could face up to 25 years to life in prison.

According to the charges, on April 18, Moncayo approached the victim, 52-year-old Pedro Portugal, on Roosevelt Avenue and showed him what appeared to be an NYPD badge.

Moncayo and an unapprehended man then allegedly grabbed Portugal and forced him into a vehicle.

He was driven to a Long Island City warehouse where he was bound, beaten and burnt with acid by a group of unknown men over a 32-day period.

The men told Portugal that they knew he had property in the United States, and he was ordered to call his mother and brother in Ecuador and ask for $3 million in ransom.

Portugal’s ordeal came to an end May 20 when police rescued him from inside the warehouse.

“Nobody said anything,” said Flavio Camposano, worker at Sign Zone, one of the businesses working out of the warehouse on 43rd Avenue, where Portugal was allegedly held captive. “Everything was regular.”

According to Camposano, a man shouted asking for help through an open window on the third floor of the warehouse on Monday and then at around 3 p.m. police swarmed the area.

Local business owners at 88-06 Roosevelt Avenue said Portugal worked as an accountant on the second floor of the building.

“I was surprised to hear what happened because it was in the middle of the day,” said a worker at Cholula Bakery who wished to remain anonymous and who saw Portugal get his breakfast at the shop every day. “There were so many people on the street. It’s so great he was found.”

Sergio Ruiz, owner of a deli at 88-04 Roosevelt Avenue, has known Portugal for the past 13 years and said the surveillance camera from his store shows Portugal leaving the building calmly the day of the kidnapping. Ruiz believes that if he was approached by men identifying themselves as cops he would have been in the same situation.

“At the moment someone just reacts and just does it,” said Ruiz.

Pedro Portugal, a 52-year-old man from Woodside, was allegedly kidnapped outside this Jackson Heights location on April 18 and held for ransom for 32 days.

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East Elmhurst gets slow zone


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Johann Hamilton

East Elmhurst residents are able to cross a little easier.

Councilmember Daniel Dromm and Department of Transportation (DOT) Queens Borough Deputy Commissioner Dalila Hall announced the East Elmhurst Slow Zone as part of the DOT’s Neighborhood Slow Zone initiative last week.

The DOT’s initiative is a community-based program that reduces the speed limit to 20 mph in order to increase pedestrian safety. The new slow zone — the sixth to be implemented in New York City and the second in the borough — will also look to lower the amount of traffic going through the neighborhood.

Dromm proposed the East Elmhurst Slow Zone to DOT last year in response to concerns he heard from the community.

“I am very pleased we were able to collaborate with the Department of Transportation to increase the safety of pedestrians in East Elmhurst,” he said. “These measures will make it safer for everybody, but especially for seniors and children, to walk through the neighborhood.”

The slow zone covers the area from Astoria Boulevard to 31st Avenue and from the Brooklyn Queens Expressway to 82nd Street.

“Local neighborhoods streets are not highways, they are not short cuts — they are where we live,” said Hall. “Our residential streets need to be designed for this human scale, and by simply reducing the speed of passing cars by 10 miles per hour, we can save lives as we make the streets where people live more inviting and safer.”

The slow zone will also include important traffic calming features such as narrowing streets by instituting parking lanes and creating a painted median in the middle of 30th Avenue. DOT has also constructed speed bumps in the area, posted more signs with the new 20 mph speed limit and pushed street parking away from intersections in order to create a larger field of vision for motorists.

“It’s worth it because more precautions mean more lives saved,” said East Elmhurst resident Michelle Gomez, 39. “Although it might not be followed at first, it can always be enforced by the police.”

Later this month, Dromm will propose the creation of the Jackson Heights Slow Zone, projected to stretch from 69th Street to 87th Street between Roosevelt Avenue and Northern Boulevard.

With additional reporting by Johann Hamilton

 

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Four wanted in East Elmhurst knife attack


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

Police are looking for four men who stabbed a 19-year-old as he was standing on an East Elmhurst street last week.

According to police, the suspects approached the victim at the corner of 31st Avenue and 91st Street around 3:50 p.m. on Monday, May 6, stabbed him, then fled the scene.

The victim was taken to Elmhurst Hospital where he was treated for stab wounds to his torso.

Authorities describe the suspects as three black males and one Hispanic male.

Anyone with information in regards to this assault is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS.The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or texting their tips to 274637(CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

 

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Remains found inside East Elmhurst garbage bag


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Graphic image

A woman made a shocking discovering last night when she found unidentified remains in a discarded garbage bag next to an East Elmhurst home.

According to police, the woman stumbled upon the remains around 7:15 p.m. near 99th Street and 31st Avenue. She kicked the bag to see what was inside and a glass jar rolled out containing them.

The medical examiner’s office is still investigating the discovery, but the Daily News is reporting that they may be a human fetus. The publication also said a human skull and a couple of dollar bills were found in the garbage bag.

 

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Push for slow zones in Jackson Heights


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo By Angy Altamirano

In December, 11-year-old Miguel Torres was struck and killed as he tried to cross the street on Northern Boulevard.

Now, leaders in Jackson Heights are calling for a slow zone to prevent more deaths.

Councilmember Daniel Dromm is leading the push that would lower the speed limit in the neighborhood from 30 miles per hour to 20 miles per hour on specific streets to stop drivers who speed through.

Last year, the councilmember applied to have a slow zone between 74th Street and 86th Street, from 37th Avenue up to Northern Boulevard. The application was denied by the Department of Transportation (DOT), as Northern Boulevard cannot be part of the slow zone because it is considered a major arterial traffic way, said Dromm.

But now Dromm hopes to reapply and focus on the side streets that meet Northern Boulevard.

“There is a very big problem in Jackson Heights on those side streets,” said Dromm. “We have to change the mentality of drivers that when they are coming into such a congested area, you aren’t going to get in and out fast. You need to slow down, calm down and take it easy.”

About two weeks ago, on the corner of 81st Street and 35th Avenue, a pedestrian was struck in a hit-and-run accident when a car was making a left turn. Another pedestrian was hit on 82nd Street and Northern Boulevard and is in critical condition.

Edwin Westley, president of the Jackson Heights Beautification Group, said he is working with Dromm to bring the slow zone to the neighborhood.

“We need it for two reasons, one is the number of senior citizens in the neighborhood and the other reason is there are a large number of schools in the area,” Westley said.

A slow zone in East Elmhurst, on 25th Avenue from 69th to 83rd Street, was approved by the DOT and is nearly completed.

“Northern Boulevard needs to be a safe environment considering just how many schools sit right along it throughout Jackson Heights and into Corona,” said Serhan Ayhan, 26, a Jackson Heights resident. “We shouldn’t be playing a game of chicken waiting until a student is hurt while crossing the street to implement safer policies.”

Along with the slow zones, Dromm also hopes to implement other traffic measures including bike racks and extended curbs to get drivers to slow down. He is also working with the NYPD for additional enforcement on the north and south ends of Northern Boulevard to decrease fatalities and hit-and-runs.

The DOT did not respond as of press time.

 

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Op-Ed: A new alliance for Flushing Meadows-Corona Park


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BY COUNCILMEMBER JULISSA FERRERAS

With public review of the National Tennis Center’s proposed expansion in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park (FMCP) well under way, it is time to set our sights on the future of what is the largest and most important open space for the residents of Queens.

Having spent my whole life in and around FMCP, I can attest to the fact that it has not received the attention and resources a park of its size and high utilization deserves.

Although I am sensitive to the budgetary and staffing constraints the Parks Department faces, it must be pointed out that unlike most communities in the city, we in Queens have private entities that greatly benefit from our public space.

After engaging in numerous conversations with the park’s stakeholders, I have come to the conclusion that we must establish a new nonprofit alliance dedicated to FMCP.  I see this as the best way to ensure the community has the quality park it deserves for future generations to enjoy.

Despite hosting upwards of 20,000 people from organized soccer leagues every week, our beloved park only has a quarter of the staff of Prospect Park, though it is more than double in size.

Additionally, Central Park, which is smaller than FMCP, has nearly eight times as many workers.

Our parkland is precious. FMCP is the Central Park of Queens.  It is the heart and lungs of our community.

If a public-private partnership akin to the Prospect Park Alliance and the Central Park Conservancy were to be created, FMCP would be better positioned to attract new revenue streams and incorporate direct community input.

The FMCP alliance board, which will be comprised of a healthy mix of local residents and representatives from the corporations inhabiting the park, will be able to work with the Parks Department in determining how private funds would be best spent for the benefit of the community.

In the immediate term, the alliance would provide a vehicle to which corporate entities operating in and benefiting from the park, such as the USTA and the Mets, could commit financial support for the ongoing care of the park, augmenting the Parks Department’s budget.

My vision for the alliance is to allow its members to represent the voice of our community and be a part of the park’s governance. I look forward to achieving a healthy collaborative effort wherein the alliance can receive funds from private sources to increase FMCP’s dedicated staff and resources it so desperately needs.

Every stakeholder I have spoken to – from the organizations who want to build in the park and local business owners to the soccer leagues and park advocacy groups – agrees that FMCP needs a new alliance, and it needs it now.

As this community is being asked to consider three major development projects in and next to FMCP, we ask the Parks Department and the City to look at these three projects holistically, consider their cumulative impact on the park, and commit to creating an alliance that will help protect this irreplaceable park.

Councilmember Julissa Ferreras represents the 21st Council District encompassing Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, Corona and Jackson Heights. She is the chair of the Women’s Issues Committee and is a member of the Committees on Parks and Recreation, Civil Rights, Consumer Affairs, Economic Development, Finance and Health.

 

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NYPD releases stop-and-frisk stats


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

File photo

For the first time, the NYPD has released 2011 data regarding the controversial procedure of stop-and-frisk.

Among those stopped-and-frisked in 2011, 87 percent were either black or Hispanic, according to the report. Of the 685,724 stops made citywide, 53 percent were black while 34 percent were Hispanic. Only 9 percent of those stopped-and-frisked were white, while 4 percent were Asian.

The most common crime suspected was weapons possession, which accounted for 26 percent of all stops.

According to the report, Brooklyn’s 75th Precinct, comprising East New York and Cypress Hills, had the highest number of stops in the city, with more than 31,000, of which 97 percent of which were either black or Hispanic. The 73rd Precinct in Brooklyn, covering Brownsville, was the next highest with 25,167 stops, 98 percent of which involved minorities.

Queens’ 115th Precinct of East Elmhurst, Corona and Jackson Heights ranked third with 18,156 stops. Nearly 93 percent of those stopped were minorities.

The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), which fought to have stop-and-frisk statistics released last year, claims the system is a form of racial profiling, adding that the practice has not reduced the number of people who fall victim to shootings. In 2002, there were 1,892 victims of gunfire and 97,296 stops. In 2011, there were 1,821 victims of gunfire but a record 685,724 stops.

 

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