UPPER WEST SIDE — Police agreed to stop raids at a controversial West 95th Street homeless shelter after NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton denounced the practice just hours before advocates rallied against the sweeps at a Wednesday protest.
“There won’t be any more operations in the immediate future,” said Capt. Marlon Larin, commanding officer of the 24th Precinct, at a community council meeting Wednesday attended by members of activist organization Picture the Homeless.
The rally was organized in the wake of a May 23 raid on the Freedom House shelter that resulted in the arrests of 22 people with outstanding warrants. Larin vowed to execute even more sweeps before Bratton publicly expressed concerns about the actions, calling them "well-intended, but... something I'm not supportive of."
Members of Picture the Homeless rallied outside the shelter at 310 W. 95th St. Wednesday evening, marching down Broadway to the precinct meeting at the Bloomingdale branch of the New York Public Library.
Jean Rice of Picture the Homeless called the raid a “fishing expedition” and asked at the meeting if police had been able to form a correlation between crimes in the area and homeless residents.
“No, we weren’t able to prove that,” Larin said. “Not by fingerprint, not by videos.”
Freedom House resident Sharon Singletary, 53, said her husband was picked up in the raid on an outstanding warrant, but returned back to the shelter the next day. She called the raids “very frightening,” but not unfair.
“If you do the crime, you do the time,” she said.
But others questioned the legality of the raids, comparing them to racial profiling.
“They assume all clients are using drugs and mentally ill,” said Arvenetta Henry, a former teacher in her late 60s who lives in a shelter in The Bronx. “I don’t think they should make those kind of assumptions.”
Bruce Bernstein, who lives adjacent to the shelter, told the meeting that other 95th street residents were unnecessarily panicked about the shelter residents.
“I come home from work late, and all I’ve seen are elderly people and security guards and disabled people, and not very many,” he said. “Maybe it’s not scientific, but that’s what I’ve seen.”