Not Too Sharp
David Seifman and Carl Campanile, New York Post, Feb. 19
A group of activists and students turned up at City Hall yesterday to demand that Mayor Bloomberg remove cops from 12 tough high schools-and one of them was nabbed with a knife.
Before the press conference began, police at a metal-detector checkpoint seized a pocket knife from one of the event’s organizers.
It was returned outside the gates of City Hall once cops determined that the 4-inch blade could be carried on the streets because it met legal standards.
Still, mayoral aides questioned the kind of example that the activist set.
“It’s ironic to say the least,” said mayoral spokesman Robert Lawson, “and we’re glad he wasn’t a student.”
The person who had the knife refused to give his name to reporters or say why he was carrying it.
City Councilman Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn), one of the event’s sponsors, called the comment about the knife from the mayor’s spokesman a distraction from the real issue.
“I’m warning the mayor now,” declared Barron. “There’s a disaster waiting to happen-when a gun gets discharged in our schools and a young person is killed.”
Kate Rhee, director of the Prison Moratorium Project, charged that the addition of 150 cops to the high schools was “creating a school-to-prison pipeline.”
And Sherise Townsend, 14, a ninth-grader at Sheepshead Bay HS in Brooklyn, said the bolstered security isn’t making her feel any safer.
“If you’re angry, are you supposed to just sit there?” she asked. “If I want to express myself, I might yell, scream, whatever. I won’t hit somebody. But they’re going to think I am. Once you start yelling, they’re going to pick you up, put you in handcuffs. I don’t think that’s necessary. Maybe you can go to your guidance counselor and work out your problem.”
Lester Young, the school system’s executive in charge of youth development and community services, responded that cops are only one part of the effort to enhance security.
He said officials are also “analyzing all of these schools, providing supports for our students, such as counseling and mediation and transforming the overall culture of our schools.”
Bloomberg is also facing fire on the issue from his Independence Party ally, Lenora Fulani.
“They should do in our schools what they do in schools with white kids,” said Fulani, following a discussion she moderated with more than 100 students at the All Stars Project on West 42d Street.
“They bring in counselors, psychologists and after-school programs.”