Police barricades allegedly meant to “crack down on drug-related gang violence” in Harlem are now the source of controversy themselves. For the last two weeks, police have been putting up metal barricades at 129th Street between Fifth and Seventh Avenue to check IDs of people going in and out of the blocks. If individuals do not live on the block, they have to get a resident to come and vouch for them. Police said the barricades were set up following the shooting of a 25-year-old man while he was playing basketball earlier this month. Authorities said they received word from community leaders that there was going to be some sort of retaliation from gang members because of the shooting.
Some locals say it is a good measure because police are stopping violence, but others say they are concerned because it is like putting the entire community on lockdown. “Some people have bags, they have to put their groceries down to show ID? I don’t think that’s right, do you?” said one local. “I’m an old woman, I can’t be showing my ID every time I walk.” “They screen people, but then you’ve got other people that are new to the block that come in vehicles and I’ve seen them waving through, you know, so that’s one of the downsides of the checkpoint, that it creates selective screening and stuff like that,” said one resident. “I don’t think it’s effective, really.” (more…)