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Bed-Stuy Residents Rally to Save Bookstore After Owner is Hospitalized

 Dozens flocked to True South Book Store in Bed-Stuy after the owner, Monroe Brown, was hospitalized.
Dozens flocked to True South Book Store in Bed-Stuy after the owner, Monroe Brown, was hospitalized.
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BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — The owner of an independent book store in Bed-Stuy is being threatened with eviction just days after being sent to the hospital with a stroke and a brain aneurysm, his son said.

After visiting his father in the hospital, Ajamu Brown, 36, said he called True South's landlord to let him know what happened. The landlord, listed on public documents as Shulem Herman of 93 Halsey Street LLC, was understanding and wished his family the best, Brown said.

But a day after the stroke, Brown said he went to True South, where one of his father's distraught employees said the landlord had ordered the locks changed.

"He was talking about coming in here and putting all of my dad's stuff in storage," Brown said. "You just told me he was a good tenant."

Monroe Brown, 71, who owns True South Bookstore at 492 Nostrand Ave., began breathing on his own Wednesday, more than a week after being sent to Bellevue Hospital on Sunday, July 14, according to his son.

"He's fighting," the younger Brown said.

Brown said his father paid rent through June, and holds a lease that runs through October. For now, they are trying to raise enough money to keep the book store self-sustainable and to hire an attorney. The shop, which specializes in black history, has become a cultural institution in Bed-Stuy.

But Brown was surprised to learn that his father, a former school teacher who used the shop as a place of learning, was subsidizing the rent out of his own pocket in order to keep it alive.

"He isn't the type to complain," the son said. "He's a very community-minded person."

He planned a fundraiser for his father via an announcement on Bed-Stuy Patch, and on Wednesday, dozens of supporters filed into True South and spilled out onto the sidewalk. They bought books while listening to live music and eating food.

The packed house was an indication of the community's support for the elder Brown, his son said.

"They have a connection to him," Brown said. "He's the kind of person to go out of his way.

The building's landlord did not attend Wednesday's fundraiser, and calls to 93 Halsey Street LLC were not immediately returned.

Only a day before the stroke and aneurysm, the younger Brown said his father wanted to sit and to talk to him about the George Zimmerman verdict, something the son wasn't in the mood to discuss. He left, and that Sunday, got a call saying his dad was taken to the hospital.

"For him to go from a stage of healthiness to not being able to communicate, just like that, it's bizarre," the younger Brown said. "It's just so sudden."