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Ackeem Green (25) was shot while playing basketball
Published: Jun 20, 2012 @ 2:44 AM
Ackeem Green (25)
Jun 03, 2012
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Metal barricades separate residents from passersby. Visitors must pass through checkpoints manned by armed guards. Weary citizens feel like prisoners in their own homes.
The West Bank? Downtown after 9/11?
No, Harlem — today.
A two-block stretch of the Manhattan neighborhood is under lockdown — closed to all but those who can prove they live there — after a gang-linked homicide and the extremely rare NYPD reaction to prevent further bloodshed.
For two weeks, West 129th Street between Fifth Avenue and Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard has been blocked off from dusk until dawn, forcing frustrated residents, whether driving or walking, to produce identification at barricaded street-corner checkpoints to enter their own homes.
Dumbfounded visitors are turned away by armed cops unless they call a resident to meet them at the end of the block.
Cops say a spate of gun violence in the area — including the murder of a young dad caught in gang gunfire on a basketball court — prompted the move.
"It's been crazy out here," said a cop from Harlem's 32nd Precinct. "The gangs are a real problem."
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said he had to put safety first.
"We understand it doesn't make everybody happy,'' he told The Post yesterday. "We understand people are inconvenienced by showing identification. But what we're trying to do is save young lives."
Some tenants and homeowners have embraced the added security, but others — already on edge over the city's controversial stop-and-frisk policy — are outraged.
"Why do I need an ID to go home?" resident John Barnes said. "When did this become a gated community?"
Authorities would not say how long the checkpoints will be in place, but police sources said the barricades could stand for months.
Cops fear a bloody retaliation is in the works after the slaying of Ackeem Green, a new dad with dreams of becoming a Marine, police sources said.
Green, 25, was playing basketball with friends in a park at West 129th Street on June 3 when gunfire rang out.
He was struck by a bullet and died at the scene — two months after his son was born. Friends and family said Green was just a bystander caught in a vicious feud between gangs.
The shooting, which wounded four others, touched a nerve in the community, where Green was a member of the Harlem Youth Marines, a nonprofit that steers youth from gangs and violence.
Now, at 4:30 p.m. every day, the roadblocks are linked, manned by cops with a simple set of instructions: No outsiders allowed.
"It doesn't bother me," said one resident, a 60-year-old grandmother who added that the checkpoints made her feel safer.
"If you're doing what you're supposed to be doing, it shouldn't be a problem."
It was a problem for Barnes, who refused to show ID while returning from the gym with a neighbor.
Barnes, who is black, said he was upset his white neighbor was allowed to pass without being stopped and he wasn't. After protesting, Barnes was allowed to walk through unchecked.
"It could have gotten ugly," Barnes said.
Commissioner Kelly talked to residents yesterday during an official walk through Harlem, blocks from a march protesting the stop-and-frisk policy.
"This is not unlike the stop-and-question policy people were marching against today," he said. "[But] we believe it's a lifesaver."
Harlem resident Sintora Simpson, an executive assistant at a nonprofit organization, added, "I'm a citizen of this city. I'm not a criminal. I pay taxes. I can walk up and down any block I choose.
"People don't realize that their rights are being taken away. How is this making me safer?"
Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/harlem_on_lockdown_JbIO6l0TEQESVJWHIxD0tI#ixzz1yEO0W1WP
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