Gowanus Lounge: Serving Brooklyn

‘Racist and Rough Playground’ in Carroll Gardens?

April 29th, 2008 · 8 Comments

tulip-crop.jpgHere’s a little something we came across via the Bococa Parents Group email list that talks about a nasty little experience at the Vincent Dimattina Playground, which is on the far end of Carroll Gardens near an entrance ramp to the BQE. It alleges a racial/ethnic confrontation in the playground. Here it is:

I just wanted to warn you of a racist incident at the playground at the corner of Hicks Street and Rapelye Street, just behind PS 146. It’s called the Vincent Dimattina Playground. Beware, some people there just don’t welcome other people who are different from them. Yesterday afternoon around 5pm I was at that playground with my daughter. I saw a couple of boys (around 10-11 years old) running up and down the flower beds plucking flowers and thrashing at the plants. I asked them not to pick the flowers. A woman charged at me immediately and shouted: “Don’t you tell my children what to do! You watch your kid and I’m watching mine!”I explained I was just asking the boys not to hurt the plants. She then shouted: “I planted the flowers myself. My kids can do whatever they want. They can even urinate on them!” At this time, her older boy came up right in front of me, jumped up and down, and shouted: “Shoosh, shoosh!” I said: “It’s a public park, no one should hurt the plants.”

Quickly an older woman (in her 50s) came up and shouted: “How dare you say that? We planted the flowers here and we can do whatever we want here. Which country are you from? You don’t even speak English properly!”

She then yelled: “Get out! Go back to your country! We were born and raised here.” I told her that it’s a public park and I have the right to be there. As the women and their boys closed in on me like a pack of wolves, I realized other mothers there were their friends. I decided to leave. I didn’t want them to hurt my child. They chased me to the gate. I was shocked that such a racist attack would happen in our peaceful neighborhood. These moms and their kids seem to be regulars there and it seems they’ve taken the park as their own property. I wonder if I should have called the police at that time. I could have stood there arguing with those moms but I realized there was no point to reason with them because they were on the verge of getting physical.

I’ve traveled the world and have seen racism elsewhere, but I haven’t seen such blatant racism in America. I wanted to warn you to beware when you visit that playground, but then again, that park is paid by us taxpayers and why can’t we use it?…

A follow up email indicates that residents have offered to accompany here to the playground and that the 76th Precinct will patrol it more.

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8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 MJ // Apr 29, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    at least these people were up front about their racism and sense of entitlement. around here those things are usually just implied.

  • 2 loose stool // Apr 29, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    I’m sorry. Are we to presume this is a black on white confrontation? It’s not white on black because the colors would be explicitly stated. Maybe black on asian. I don’t think its black on hispanic. The dialog would be more “colorful” . I’m going to say black on asian. That’s my final answer.

  • 3 Rina // Apr 29, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    I don’t understand this either. The parents of kids who play there let their kids ransack the place? And was the Mom being yelled at black? or what. Explain. Seems like a weird situation no matter what.

  • 4 Best View in Brooklyn // Apr 29, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    I don’t think it really matters what color was ganging up on the other. Although it’s a one sided rendition of the incident, from what was said, it’s a clear example of intimidation and ignorance.

    I’m sorry the poster had to go through that, because even being in the “right” leaves one feeling pretty violated after that kind of episode.

    I suggest the letter-writer gets a bunch of friends together and shows up for “It’s My Park Day!” It seems that the main argument was “I planted them, my kids can eat them for all I care!” Helping to clean up and plant more greenery will quiet that argument down. You can’t win with rational argument when the other side is so entrenched in hate and ignorance. NYC is about changing neighborhoods, and all sides need to get over this feeling of entitlement and being a gate-keeper to a neighborhood.

  • 5 Rina // Apr 30, 2008 at 9:35 am

    If race isn’t an issue then why is it being called a racist incident? It all seems strange and perhaps contrived.

  • 6 jonathan // Apr 30, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    Forget about race, the bigger issue is ignorance coupled with an arrogant disrespect for other people and the things we all enjoy, such as the park.

    I agree with “Best View in Brooklyn.” If you could get enough people together to mobilize, you can take back the park. Try taking photos of these people and post them to a blog. Call it something like “The Motherly vagrants of Vincent Dimattina.” Everyone is linked in now. This blog alone is a testament to it. Get the word out, get the photos out, and hopefully with enough support, you’ll get the vagrants out.

  • 7 Jimmy Johns // Apr 30, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    It’s simply a matter of social discourse.

    How one group acts within their local tribe can be misconstrued by people from other tribes who are not accustomed to these actions.

    If you bother someone hanging out at the park smoking a joint and they pull a gun on you. What you hear is “#$@#%# $%^ # %^$^ %^ white @#$@#$”. When they are simply saying “Please go away! I’m Busy!” Nothing more.

    You got to read between the lines and not take it at face value.

    But seriously. This is more a language and customs issue then a race issue.

    If you wanted them to stop destroying the flowers then you should of yelled at the mother so loud that the whole park heard it and did it in a way that made them laugh at her. This work! Really!

  • 8 TomBob // Jun 11, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    I live across the street from this playground, and every day in the Spring and Summer the almost exclusively white parents behave terribly. They park illegally and then accost any drivers who try to get by, including an ambulance driver. I’ve seen kids throw baseballs at two black girls who happened to be walking by with their dog towards the dog run and then yelling epithets at them. The majority of the kids are fine, but the parents are almost universally horrible.