The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Homeless Encampment Threatening Dog Owners in Fort Greene Park, Locals Say

By Janet Upadhye | October 17, 2014 7:23am
 A group of people who sleep in Fort Greene Park are becoming increasingly aggressive, according to neighbors.
A group of people who sleep in Fort Greene Park are becoming increasingly aggressive, according to neighbors.
View Full Caption
DNAinfo/Janet Upadhye

FORT GREENE PARK — Homeless people who have set up camp in Fort Greene Park have become increasingly aggressive toward local dog owners — haranguing them and threatening to kill them if their dogs get too close, residents say.

Police have been called to investigate problems with a homeless encampment in Fort Greene Park five times since May, according to the city's 311 complaint log. Police found "no evidence of the violation at that time" in four of the incidents, but "took action to fix the condition" in the fifth incident on Aug. 28, records show.

Locals say the problem revolves around a handful of people who have made the area of the park near Brooklyn Hospital their home, hanging their pots and pans from a tree and storing tarps, toilet paper and clothing inside a hole in the trunk.

Tensions have been rising between the group and local dog owners who use the park, especially in the early morning hours when dozens of people let their dogs run off-leash, locals say.

The untethered pups sniff, bark and jump on the slumbering people — oftentimes waking them up and triggering a furious response, locals say.

Fort Greene resident and literary agent Cheryl Pientka said she recently had a terrifying run-in with one of the people in the park when her small, white Cairn Terrier named Sasha ran up to one of the homeless men and sniffed him, waking him up.

The man began to threaten Pientka, saying he would sexually attack her, she said.

"When my dog got too close to him and began sniffing, he began saying some very scary things to me," she said. "And apparently I am not the first person he has threatened."

Pientka said she called police, who blamed her for instigating the incident.

"They told me my dog provoked him," she said, adding that she did not file a police report.

The 88th Precinct did not respond to a request for comment.

But a Parks Department staff member, who declined to give his name, said his agency was aware of the problem and had asked the group to leave the park several times, along with the NYPD and Department of Homeless Services.

"Nothing helps," he said. "They just keep coming back."

The Department of Homeless Services did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Dog owner Kizz Robinson — who said one man had exposed himself to dog walkers on various occasions — said she has noticed an increased police presence in the area in recent weeks. She noted a recent time when a patrol car drove up on the grass and asked the group to leave.

But locals say the problems continue.

Kevin Knapp, who walks his Cairn Terriers, Fergus and Brodie, in the park every morning has also witnessed the menacing behavior, including threats from those in the encampment to kill dog walkers.

"It is becoming an issue of territory," he said. "They are becoming more and more aggressive every day."

"I don't think a tent camp of homeless people would ever be tolerated in Prospect or Central Parks the way it is here," he said.