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Brooklyn Heights, News

Two Members of the Central Park Five Visit Packer Collegiate

February 7, 2013

On Wednesday at the Packer Collegiate Institute, students and faculty listened raptly as two members of the Central Park Five shared their stories of being arrested, convicted, and jailed for the infamous 1989 Central Park jogger assault—a crime they didn’t commit.

Raymond Santana and Yusef Salaam spoke to members of the Packer community for two hours, explaining how they came to be arrested and convicted, and later exonerated.

The event was coordinated by Alice Lurain and Sarah Strauss, who teach chemistry and history respectively in Packer’s Upper School. Lurain teaches an elective in forensic chemistry, Strauss one in criminal justice, and last year, they began to talk about a way to offer inter-disciplinary work to their students.

“Sarah and I had spoken last spring,” said Lurain, “about getting a speaker who could talk about the use of forensic evidence, possibly in exonerations, as a way to begin our collaboration between our classes so that the students would have a more concrete understanding of why it was important to examine science and the law as fallible human institutions that can be improved if we understand their limitations.”

And at a conference last summer, Lurain found exactly the speaker she was looking for.

“I attended the American Chemical Society meeting,” said Lurain, “and there happened to be a symposium co-sponsored by the Division of Science and Law and the Innocence Project. I heard three exonerees, one of whom was Raymond Santana, speak, along with a number of forensic chemists and other people involved in law enforcement. That prompted Sarah and me to contact the Innocence Project back in August about the possibility of having Raymond visit Packer.”

The Innocence Project suggested that Salaam visit as well, a suggestion Lurain eagerly accepted.

“Raymond’s story really struck me, particularly because he was so young at the time of his arrest,” she said. “We had no idea that their case would begin to get so much press with the release of the documentary and the book.”

The film is The Central Park Five a documentary produced by Ken Burns, his daughter Sarah, and David McMahon; it  was released last fall in the United States and is currently showing at the IFC Center.

Joining Santana and Salaam was Edwin Grimsley, a case analyst at the Innocence Project, which is based in downtown Manhattan.

“Can you imagine,” Salaam began, “being at school, leaving to go hang out with your friends, doing what normal kids do, and then a portion of them don’t show up because they were kidnapped by the police department?”

A naïve teenager, he learned that the police were looking for him, and his first instinct, he said, was to go to the precinct and tell them he hadn’t done anything.

“It was a no-brainer for me,” he said. “’I’m going to tell them, and my name will be off this list.’ I came home seven years later.”

Arrested at age 15, Salaam spent five and a half years in prison and three more on parole before being exonerated in 2002.  Santana was 14 when he began his five-year term.

“One decision,” Santana told the Upper School students gathered in Packer’s chapel, “going to hang out with my classmates, some guys from the neighborhood, changed my life.” 

Both Santana and Salaam were classified as sex offenders and had to register with local precincts every time they moved.  Following their exoneration and the publication of Sarah Burns’ book on which the movie is based, the men feel that they have been able to re-claim some pieces of their lives.

“It’s awesome for people to embrace us,” said Santana. “It says how far we’ve come as a city.”

Salaam concurred. “We’ve been welcomed back, back into society.”

Neither man, though, was so generous that he’s put what happened wholly behind him. Santana still feels the sting of losing his mother to cancer while he was incarcerated and of her never knowing that he’d been exonerated.

Salaam spoke bitterly of Mayor Koch and Donald Trump. Koch was captured on camera at the time proclaiming gleefully, “We got ‘em!”, while Trump took out full-page ads in city newspapers calling for the death penalty to be reinstated so that the five convicted boys could be executed.

Despite the exoneration, the city has never publicly apologized to the Central Park Five or admitted any wrongdoing in the handling of their cases. The other men who were convicted and exonerated are Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, and Kharey Wise.

Said Salaam, “We channel our rage into coming to schools and talking to students.”

“We love these engagements because of you guys,” Santana told the students. “Nobody wanted to invest in us, and we decided to invest in you, by telling our story.”

Disclosure: The author has taught at Packer since 1998. 

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

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Arts and Entertainment, Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO, Food, History

Nice Weather This Weekend; Anything to Do?

November 9, 2012

The weather forecast is encouraging, but with so many institutions, like Bargemisic, which is in good physical shape but still lacks Con Ed power, coping with the aftermath of the Sandy/nor’easter one-two punch, what is there to do if you’re in town? There’s the penultimate Smorgasburg of the season this Sunday, November 11 from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Tobacco Warehouse, Water Street at New Dock Street in the Fulton Ferry Historic District (I once described it as being in DUMBO and caught holy heck from the Fulton Ferry Landing Association). The final Smorgasburg of the season will be the following Sunday, November 18.

Brooklyn Heights Cinema, 70 Henry Street (corner of Orange) will be showing The Sessions and A Late Quartet. Showtimes are here.

The Brooklyn Historical Society, 128 Pierrepont Street (corner of Clinton) will have another of its tours of the Society’s historic building on Saturday, November 10, starting at 3:00 p.m. Details are here. Looking ahead to Thursday, November 15, starting at 7:00 p.m., BHS will present a lecture by independent scholar and author Andrew Coe, “Spilt Milk: the Bloody Food Rackets of 20th Century New York,” about how gangsters controlled much of food distribution in New York City in the first half of the past century. Details are here.

Know of anything else interesting happening in Brooklyn Heights or nearby this weekend or in the near future? Add a comment to this post.

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

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Arts and Entertainment

So, What’s On This Weekend?

November 2, 2012

Brooklyn Bridge Park is closed until further notice. The Brooklyn Historical Society will be closed through Tuesday, November 6. Fortunately, Bargemusic didn’t sustain any serious damage, but repairs to an outside sprinkler pipe will keep it closed through this weekend. However, Brooklyn Heights Cinema, 70 Henry Street (corner of Orange), which remained open through Sandy’s ravages thanks to the dedication of owner Kenn Lowy, will have its normal schedule of shows. Looking ahead to this coming Wednesday, November 7, the Cinema will present songs and a reading by Steve Witt from his new novel, The Street Singer. And there’s more…

The Troupers of St. Francis College will present three performances (Friday and Saturday at 8:00 p.m.; Sunday at 2:00 p.m.) of Yasmina Reza’s award winning play God of Carnage, about inter-domestic strife in Cobble Hill (image, taken from the Broadway production, from The New York Times. The performances will be at the College’s auditorium, 180 Remsen Street.

If you want to to help people who were affected badly by Sandy, our neighbors in Red Hook are taking donations of food and other essentials at 767 Hicks Street; for more information see here. Brooklyn Bridge Park may need additional cleanup help; watch the Park’s Facebook page for announcements. The Red Cross has other volunteer opportunities.

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

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Arts and Entertainment, Brooklyn Heights

Brooklyn Heights Cinema Offers Reprieve From Superstorm

October 30, 2012

The Brooklyn Heights Cinema continues to provide refuge from the storm, as owner Ken Lowy discusses in a profile in today’s New York Observer. He tells the newspaper, “We all live in the area, I’m 10 minutes away, so why not.”

Lowy says he wasn’t about to let Hurricane Sandy shut him down: “We were open last year for Hurricane Irene and we got a lot of people in, so we figured we would do it again. People get cabin fever. It’s good to get out if you can. It’s all locals (and) everybody’s walking. If you can stay open, it’s smart because you have a captive audience.” See the full Observer story here, and the Cinema’s schedule here. (Photo: (remster_9/Flickr)

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

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Arts and Entertainment, Brooklyn Heights

Brooklyn Heights Cinema Open Tomorrow, with Special Matinee

October 28, 2012

While many, if not most, local businesses will be closed tomorrow (Monday, October 29), Brooklyn Heights Cinema owner Kenn Lowy tells us the shows will go on at the Cinema, 70 Henry Street(corner of Orange). He’s adding a special 3:00 p.m. matinee. The Master will be showing at 3:00, 5:15, and 8:00; The Other Son will show at 3:00, 5:00, 7:00, and 9:00. Pity Kenn couldn’t get Key Largo on short notice.

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

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Reminder: Stephen Levin Hosts Free Screening Of ‘Gasland’ Monday At BH Cinema

October 1, 2012

Reminder: Tonight, Monday, October 1, at 6:45, Council Member Stephen Levin hosts a free screening of “Gasland”—Josh Fox’s documentary about the Halliburton-developed drilling technology known as “fracking,” or hydraulic fracturing—at the Brooklyn Heights Cinema, 70 Henry Street. The movie is also airing on HBO throughout 2012.

More info: “When filmmaker Josh Fox is asked to lease his land for drilling, he embarks on a cross-country odyssey uncovering a trail of secrets, lies and contamination. A recently drilled nearby Pennsylvania town reports that residents are able to light their drinking water on fire. This is just one of the many absurd and astonishing revelations of a new country called ‘Gasland.’ Part verite travelogue, part expose, part mystery, part bluegrass banjo meltdown, part showdown.”

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

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Arts and Entertainment, Brooklyn Heights, Downtown Brooklyn

Brooklyn Bridge Park In A Magical Time-Lapse Vignette!

August 31, 2012

Fantastic fun! A tilt-shift film shot in Brooklyn by German filmmaker Joerg Daiber. Below the jump, check out the locations in Brooklyn Bridge Park (heavily featured), Downtown, DUMBO, Brooklyn’s Main Public Library, Grand Army Plaza and Coney Island. Read details of the “making of” here.

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

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Tonight! BBP’s Voter’s Choice ‘Movies With A View’ Finale Is…

August 30, 2012

The final movie in the Syfy “Movies With a View” series at Brooklyn Bridge Park, is tonight, Thursday, August 30, with DJs kicking things off at 6 p.m. at the Harbor View Lawn on Pier 1 in Brooklyn Bridge Park. The nominees for the public vote finale were: “Splendor in the Grass,” “Across the Universe,” “Sunset Boulevard” and “Clueless.”

And surprise! (not so much). The winner is… “Clueless,” the 1995 hit teen parody starring Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash and (the late) Brittany Murphy. The movie screens at sunset.

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

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Brooklyn Heights, News

Brooklyn Heights Cinema Seeks Not-For-Profit Status

August 29, 2012

According to The Brooklyn Paper, Kenn Lowy, owner of the Brooklyn Heights Cinema, has decided to apply to convert it to not-for-profit status. This will give it the flexibility to apply for arts grants and accept tax deductible donations, which will be important given the need to install new digital projectors in order to show movies that are now being released only in that format. It will also enable the Cinema to present more works by local filmmakers as well as concerts by up-and-coming musicians.

The building now housing the Cinema is slated for demolition, although the landowner will provide space for a one screen theater in the new building to be constructed on the site. Lowy is looking for space for a one screen annex to continue presenting movies while the new building is under construction. we’ll keep you advised of developments.

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

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Arts and Entertainment, Music

Vote for Final Movie in This Year’s “Movies With a View”

August 26, 2012

You can vote for the final movie in the Syfy Movies With a View series at Brooklyn Bridge Park, to be shown this Thursday, August 30, starting at 6:00 p.m. at the Harbor View Lawn on Pier 1, Brooklyn Bridge Park. The nominees are: Splendor in the Grass (seems appropriate for the venue); Across the Universe (Ah! The view!); Sunset Boulevard (you can watch the sun set as DJ Geko Jones of Que Bajo does the pre-movie sounds); and Clueless (the default choice?). You may cast your ballot here; please be prompt, as the polls close soon.

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

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