For as long as most can remember, East 117th street and Madison Avenue in East Harlem was a haven for drug dealers and drug users. This area was a major hub for street level narcotics, but as of last week this all changed. The exact location is the Milbank-Frawley public housing complex. What has always felt like a dangerous place to live now has a newfound spirit about it. The indictment of 35 members of an illegal drug ring has changed the landscape around this housing complex. An alley way between the housing complex and another apartment building has been a breeding ground for drug dealing and drug use for quite some time. Now this ally is a place where children can roam and residents feel safe walking through. The indictment has cleared this area of the problem it had dealt with for so long.
Residents have commented that they used to be afraid to be outside and around their own building. Children could not play in the street nor would most parents allow them out due to the circumstances. Manhattan district attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said “the area was literally a wasteland – a war zone”. The investigation into the drug ring started in 2010 lasted fifteen months. This investigation has led to 35 arrests that have changed the landscape of this area.
Last Saturday the community celebrated the indictments by throwing a block party. Children could be seen playing on sidewalks and enjoying a safe neighborhood for the first time in a long time. Residents set up tables and chairs to enjoy card games and good conversation. For most this is a moment they have been waiting for. They can finally consider that section of East Harlem safe. They no longer have to live in fear of what lurks right outside their front door. A courtyard near the building was another main location where drugs were bought and sold on a daily basis. Now, the courtyard is a place where a garden is being planted by local teenagers. Local teenager Alexander Reynoso was quoted saying, “I live on the first floor and it was never comfortable to come outside. It feels safer now. Before, there wasn’t any community involvement. Hopefully now we can be a community instead of separate people living in the same building.” Local officials are elated at the change. While it’s only a small geographical area and much more needs to be done in East Harlem it is a huge victory and monumental change for an area riddled by drug induced crime for many years. This type of change gives hope to many other areas of New York and all over the country that there can be end to crime in neighborhoods known for being overcome with drugs and violence. This has been a huge step for the residents at the Milbank-Frawley housing complex. Finally residents can sleep peacefully knowing their section of East Harlem is now safer than it’s ever been. Hopefully, with the help of local officials and law enforcement this trend can continue around the city and in cities all across the country.
Edwards, Aaron. “Block in East Harlem Celebrates Defeat of Drug Gang”. New York Times. June 24, 2012. Web. June 27th, 2012.
Filed under: Featured · Tags: block party, city, community, crime, drug addiction, Drug dealers, drug gangs, East Harlem, Harlem, housing complex, indictment, Milbank-Frawley, New York, public housing, safe, safe neighborhood, war on drugs, war zone