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88th Precinct a 'No Show' at Local Meeting on Crime, Despite Invitations

By Janet Upadhye | June 11, 2013 8:58am
 A 23-year-old man was shot and killed May 31, 2013 when a gunman opened fire on Myrtle Avenue near Pratt Institute.
A 23-year-old man was shot and killed May 31, 2013 when a gunman opened fire on Myrtle Avenue near Pratt Institute.
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DNAinfo/Janet Upadhye

CLINTON HILL — Top brass at the 88th Precinct skipped a community meeting to address a recent murder and ongoing mayhem on Myrtle Avenue in Clinton Hill, prompting complaints of disrespect.

The hosts, the Myrtle Avenue Business Partnership and the Ryerson Street Block Association, said that despite notifying precinct officials five days in advance via email and phone, no one from the precinct attended the heated community forum.

"They should have been here to hear what we had to say," said resident Maria Lemons, 73. "I am disappointed in the precinct and feel like a great lack of respect was shown tonight."

On Monday night upwards of 125 residents and business owners met at local restaurant Soco to talk about increased incidents of violence, noise and crime in the neighborhood. The meeting was organized in direct response to the recent murder of Antonio Benito Wilson II, who was shot as he exited Fork Café.

But as the community took a moment of silence to honor the 23-year-old innocent bystander's life, local cops were not there to participate.

A detective from the NYPD's Community Affairs Bureau attended the meeting and a captain from the 88th Precinct arrived after the nearly two-hour meeting was adjourned.

"I apologize for not being here. I wanted to be here,” said Capt. Ceres John of the 88th Precinct. "I did not get enough advance warning about the meeting."

He also said he was further delayed by a police incident.

The precinct commander, Deputy Inspector Scott Henderson, could not attend due to a previously scheduled Compstat meeting, according to the partnership.

Locals see increased police presence on the block as one solution to what they call "uncontrolled violence," and said they felt "insulted" that police did not send a representative to hear their concerns about the recent shooting.

"We need the police here not after something occurs but before something occurs and the 88th has not been here," said Steve Ganesh who lives at Willoughby Walk in Clinton Hill. "Why are they not patrolling the area?"