Coming Up: Community Clean-Up Day

From City Hall:

Mayor Cory A. Booker today announced that the City of Newark will host the fifth annual “Gateway to a Cleaner Newark: Community Cleanup Day” on Thursday, October 4 as part of a city-wide initiative to spur community and corporate involvement in the revitalization of Newark neighborhoods.

A collaborative effort between the City of Newark, Essex County and the New Jersey Clean Communities Council, the event will enlist volunteers from various businesses, schools and community organizations to remove trash and litter from selected areas throughout the city.

“The energy shown during these clean ups is contagious,” said Mayor Booker. “Working together residents, corporate partners, and other volunteers will make our neighborhoods cleaner and safer and provide a better quality of life for everyone.”

“The Newark cleanup is part of a highly successful series of urban cleanups hosted by the New Jersey Clean Communities Council to foster cooperation of government agencies, community organizations, schools, and businesses in cleaning up litter,” said Sandra Huber, the council’s Executive Director.

At 9:00 AM volunteers for the event will arrive at City Hall for registration and team assignment. The teams will then be transported to the designated improvement sites where they will remove trash until 1:00 PM. Following the clean-up volunteers will assemble at Lincoln Park for a free lunch and an awards ceremony to honor their participation in the event.

All cleaning equipment will be provided by the city and Essex County. Other partners in the event include Newark Public Schools, Essex County, the Newark Downtown District, the Greater Newark Conservancy, NJ Transit, City of East Orange, Irvington Township, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commissioners, Jersey Cares, the New Jersey Department of Transportation, the Regional Business Partnership, and Integrity House.

For more information or to register for the cleanup drive, contact the City of Newark Office of Recycling at (973) 733-6683 or by fax at (973) 733-5974.

Tyrone Jackson Invites You to Jazz it Up

For a while now, Newarkers have been tuning in to the eponymous local cable access show “Tyrone Jackson’s Breakthrough” on Thursday evenings. Now, Mr. Jackson is staging an evening of jazz – appropriately called “Jazz It Up!” — on Halsey Street. Or in Halsey Village, if you prefer the new Newark lingo. Singing from her repertoire of jazz-inspired classics, vocalist Lady M will headline a show that features local poets, musicians and dancers.
When: Friday – Oct. 26, 2007
Time: 8 p.m.
Place: 47 Halsey Street
Suggested donation: $10
Food and beverages will be available
Contact Tyrone Jackson at: (973) 375-6503; Cell: (862) 755-6957

We do not have cable service at our house, whether paid or pirated (the former because we’re too busy to be bothered and the latter because we are slightly cheap). We have never seen Tyrone Jackson’s show. So how do we stay informed? The old fashioned way, word of mouth! Well, there are a couple of nifty Web sites, too. If you prefer to ‘get your praise on’ with the latest offerings from the gospel genre, check out: www.theoutpour.net.

Justice OutLOUD performance

Dear Friends,
We’re excited to bring you the latest updates on the Race Still Matters Conference happening Saturday, October 20th at Essex County College – Newark, NJ. You can register at www.racestillmatters.org.

Our introductory speaker, Dr. Marc Lamont Hill of Temple University and empowering morning workshops will explore the many reasons why Race Still Matters . The afternoon will bring a keynote address by renowned author and activist, Asha Bandele, and a critical panel discussion “To Snitch or Not to Snitch: The Historical, Social and Political Significance of Informants in New Jersey.”

Following the conference, don’t miss:

Justice OutLOUD, a show case of the inspirational talent of visual and performing artists dedicated to the cause of racial equality. Location: Gallery Aferro – 73 Market St., Newark – www.aferro.org

Pre-register now to join the vast community of New Jerseyans working to make the dream of liberty and justice for ALL a reality.

Spread the word!

Build your own audible alarm – free workshop

The Aphrodite Project’s audible alarm demo is Sept. 29 at 4pm, at Gallery Aferro in Newark.
We will hold a live demonstration to show how you can build your own personal audible alarm system for around $10. The system is easy to assemble and uses parts available from RadioShack. No soldering or special skills are required. In addition to shoes, this alarm can be used in handbags, jackets and other clothing.

There will be a few tables set up if you want to bring your own supplies and start assembling your alarm, otherwise feel free to come and watch.

You can email us at diy-aferro@theaphroditeproject.tv with any questions.

-The Aphrodite Project Team

Mobilizing the Village To Raise the Young

Readers of The Daily Newarker might remember that in late July, the Star-Ledger published an essay by Mayor Cory Booker in which he urgently called for reforms to a correctional system that often does more harm than good to the inner-city youth it intends to serve. On the latest installment of “Newark Today”, broadcast last night on WBGO, the mayor again delved into the issue, along with Deputy Mayor of Public Safety Ron Salahuddin.
We can all argue exhaustively about why young people go of track in the first place and why it is so hard to take former juvenile offenders and make them over into productive citizens. I think most of us can agree that the breakdown of solid family units, and the absence of reliable fathers are largely to blame for the broken way that some of these kids see the world. Others say that if the city had more enrichment and recreational programs available to children and their families, then young people would not wax idle and destructive.

Whatever the case, the city finds itself with a huge job on its hands when it comes to guiding its young people. The administration has been steadily calling for everyone from all walks of life in Newark to take an interest in young people through mentoring, tutoring and any other way in which we can share our time and experience with children outside our own families.

“I think that all of us that live in Newark and know a kid on our block that might have one parent … take them to the movies, take them to a ball game. Ask them if they need a ride somewhere,” Salahuddin says on the program.

That includes folks like ‘Angelina’, who phoned in last night under the pretext of airing grievances about ‘DYFS’. She briefly aired some petty and vague complaints and then she got to the real purpose of her call: supporting the ‘Recall Booker’ campaign.

I suppose that odd, off-topic comments from people with motives other than constructive comments about what is best for Newark are to be expected on a radio call-in show. That doesn’t make the pettiness any less annoying. It was particularly galling during last month’s program. There was the administration and the city, still stunned after the triple homicides in Vailsburg, when a couple of of people called in to sing the ‘recall’ tune and complain about job cuts at city hall. Honestly! I have to give the administration credit for dealing with those types of aggravating distractions, that counterproductive foolishness, in a restrained and civil way.

Don’t forget: If you like ‘Newark Today’ and other programming at WBGO, support the station with a contribution.

Verizon’s Downtown Headquarters Marked for Sale

This is an ambiguous-sounding story. Verizon Communications expects to transfer more than 600 jobs outside the city after consolidating its state call center operations somewhere in North Jersey and selling its headquarters building here.What a setback this could turn out to be for the city, and for the Booker administration. More so, this would be disappointing for the latter, which works very hard to attract and keep major businesses here, and make sure that Newarkers are first in line for available jobs at these huge companies. If the reader who commented at the end of the story is right about the estimated cost of payroll taxes for a company the size of Verizon, then it implies that it doing business here carries significant expenses. On the other hand, shouldn’t the city’s lower psf cost of commercial real estate (compared to New York) offset that, especially when you consider its central location?
The story does say that the company plans to keep its headquarters in Newark, but in a different location, so I guess that works out to be a little piece of silver lining. I wonder where that will be.

Suspect Apprehended in Downtown Shooting of a Young Boy

From City Hall last night. This is exactly what the press office for the Mayor needs to be doing: stay on message. Criminals get caught. Tip lines get used. If you commit a major offense on the streets of Newark, there will be retribution.
The NPD has already sent the message that you can’t hide: they’ll come after you in Florida and Virginia. The culture of fear and violence is stemmed when the youth perpetuating it start to realize that they will be captured, tried and convicted.

I know: we still need a crime reduction, not just convictions. But this is one step closer to eliminating a culture that glorifies violence.

Newark Police Arrest Suspect in Shooting of 3-Year-Old Child

Fear of tip line makes suspect surrender to police

Newark, NJ – September 12, 2007 – Mayor Cory A. Booker and Police Director Garry F. McCarthy announced today that the suspect sought in the shooting incident that left a 3-year-old boy in an induced coma and injured a 73-year-old woman surrendered himself to Newark Police today after learning that he was the subject of a citywide manhunt.

Director McCarthy said that Taron Johnson, a 19-year-old Orchard Street resident, surrendered to the city’s Robbery Division earlier today, escorted by his attorney. Johnson was processed and taken into custody on charges in connection with the September 7 shooting incident that left 3 year-old Abdul-Qadir Hutchins with a bullet wound to the head. Johnson is being charged with four counts each of aggravated assault, possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. Johnson also has five previous arrests, including one weapons charge.

Hutchins was a passenger in a Toyota Solara being driven by his pregnant sister on the afternoon of September 7 on Orchard Street when Johnson fired at the car. Another stray bullet traveled down the block grazing a 73-year old woman in her hip. The woman was treated and released that same day while Hutchins remains in an induced coma at University Hospital, but is expected to recover.

The motive for the shooting is still under investigation. Director McCarthy also credits the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Essex County Prosecutor’s Office for their assistance in this case.

According to Director McCarthy, Johnson was aware that he was the subject of a police manhunt which included a Sunday raid on a house where he was believed to be hiding. Director McCarthy said that Johnson chose to surrender out of fear that if he continued to hide, his location would be revealed to police through the Crime Stoppers and Gun Stoppers tip lines, which pay cash rewards for anonymous tips that result in arrests or indictments.

The Natasha Aeriel Assistance Fund

From City Hall, regarding Natasha Aeriel, the surviving victim of the August 4 shooting of four college students in Newark’s West Ward.

Mayor Cory A. Booker today announced the address for the fund that is seeking donations to support the recovery of Natasha Aeriel, the survivor of the August 4 shooting incident in Ivy Hill, which took the lives of three young Newark residents and left her badly wounded.

The address is:

“The Natasha Aeriel Assistance Fund”
c/o Beulah Baptist Church
580 South 12th Street
Newark, New Jersey 07103

NY Times Profiles Police Director McCarthy

New York Times: Biggest Test for Newark’s New Badge. The Times has a profile this morning of Newark’s top cop, Police Director Garry McCarthy. The profile includes details of his assignments while working in the New York City Police Department, and his response to questions about Newark’s high crime rates. While rumors of the director’s dissatisfaction with the job have floated around the Internet, the Times is mum the topic.

“He strikes me as really distinctive combination of a no-nonsense, granite-core cop’s cop and — unlike most people who fit that description — entirely open to any new and interesting ways of doing business,” said David M. Kennedy, director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, who has been working with the Newark department on crime prevention strategies.

Mr. Kennedy placed Mr. McCarthy, 48, among a generation of New York’s police commanders who took leadership positions in the mid-1990s under William J. Bratton, the police commissioner who introduced the Compstat crime tracking system and gets much of the credit for New York’s declining crime rates.

A year before Mr. Bratton arrived in 1994, Mr. McCarthy won his first important post, though it was a tough sell for a cop’s cop: he moved to the Internal Affairs Bureau. “It was a little distasteful and took getting used to,” he said. “I found I was able to do a lot of good.” Four years later, as a captain, he took over the 33rd Precinct in Washington Heights, where he created the model block program that focused on drug-infested streets.

His last post in the department was as deputy commissioner of operations, a job that put him in charge of the department’s increasingly complex crime-fighting tools, including Compstat. The project he is working on with Mr. Kennedy, in the simplest terms, will put the police at the table with some of Newark’s criminal gangs, in an effort to persuade them to avoid violence. “I’m not keen to make a deal with the devil. I’d much rather arrest them and prosecute them,” Mr. McCarthy said, but added: “What’s the harm trying if it works?”

Last fall, after conducting a nationwide search for his police director, Mr. Booker invited the McCarthys to lunch in Newark. The couple admitted that at the time, they knew little about the city. “It was Exit 145 on the Parkway,” Mrs. McCarthy said. “It was the size of a precinct in New York City.” Mr. McCarthy, who said he had turned down lucrative private jobs in the past, took the $170,000-a-year job.

Mr. Booker said he and Mr. McCarthy enjoy a jesting comparison of each other. “He was Schwarzkopf, and I was Gandhi. We complement each other very well.”

On the Downtown Shooting of a Small Child

On Friday, three passengers driving down Orchard Street were attacked at mid-day by a masked gunman. A child, age three, was struck in the head by one of the nine shots fired. A nearby pedestrian was also struck by a stray bullet. Both survived the attack — though the child is in critical condition — and were treated at University Hospital. New York Times: Newark Boy, 3, Hit in Head by Shots Fired Into Passing Car.
A funny thing about writing a blog about the city of Newark is words like “horrified” and “shocked” become clichés, so let’s just look at the facts. The attack occurred during the day near the heart of downtown Newark. Orchard runs between two of Newark’s major thoroughfares: Broad Street — which is currently under revitalization efforts — and McCarter Highway. The site of the shooting is about five blocks from City Hall. It’s about eight blocks from the site of the Prudential Arena is, where Bon Jovi will be opening next month. The Tritonic design studio, in the heart of the Lincoln Park arts district, is around the corner.

The police tracked the suspected shooter to a home in the Ironbound yesterday, but turned up nothing: Siege for shooting suspect fizzles. The suspect remains at large.

The shooting occurred during the day in a part of town not typically associated with violent crime. Because of this, and that the shooter didn’t seem to harm his intended victim, it would appear to have been an act of desperation. There were no fatalities, but the act alone is chilling: I’ve walked and driven past this spot in the mid-to-late afternoon plenty of times. I have a small child. What’s to say the shooter hadn’t mistaken the driver for someone else?

Four days after the shooting, there are no conclusive thoughts to share. Yes, the police must stay vigilant and track down the shooter. Yes, Newark has a culture of violence that enables this kind of brash disregard for human life or the law. But, at the end of the day, this kind of crime just leaves a vague sense of unease.