Here’s the story: For about six months now, I’ve lived in Bushwick, Brooklyn, a legendarily bad neighborhood (those blackout '77 riots depicted in “Summer of Sam” mostly occurred there.) The neighborhood is in turnaround though, with obvious signs of gentrification (lots of building being majorly renovated - including the one I live in), but is still pretty raw. And even the worst neighborhoods in NYC are not as bad as they were in the mid-70s. I was not blind to the fact that it was a bad neighborhood. Still, there tends to be a lot of people out on the streets, even at night, including kids & elderly folks, so I relaxed a bit about walking to & from the subway station at night.
Anyway, last night (Wendesday, 9/5) I went to a bodega down the block from my apartment to get milk & such. As I approached it, there was a guy in a blue sweatshirt who was hanging out around the front door, but I didn’t think much of it. As I was about to step in the front door, another guy in a yellow sweatshirt was blocking my way and said “Don’t come in here right now.” All of a sudden there is the sound of yelling, and I can see through the front window to the store a guy pulling a gun on the cashier, and another guy w/ a gun jumping across the counter.
I was about to bolt away, but the yellow-sweatshirt guy starts yelling “Don’t you call the fuckin’ cops n****r! (He meant me, even though I’m white) Give me your fuckin’ phone!” Then the grabs me and demands that I hand over my cellphone, and shoves me inside the store. I stood there with my hands up, while the guy yells at me, holding what might have been a gun in his pocket at me. I stood there as nonchalantly as I could whiile they cleared out the register. They took off in a car that was parked out front.
I just happened to be walking in the door at the wrong time. They didn’t even take my wallet, just my cell. The whole thing was on caught on the store’s security cameras. (That guy in the blue sweatshirt I mentioned earlier shows up on the tape and was obviously part of the gang, a lookout who cased the place out.) I stuck around to give a police report and went to the local precinct house to look at mug shots (I only saw one guy clearly, but couldn’t place him with any mug shot.)
From what I overheard from the detectives, the same guys have been pulling heists on deils around the area. The cops also let me in on the cheery little detail that I live almost directly across the street from THE worst drug dealers in the city! They told me they (cops) don’t like going into that neighborhood themselves, and stated simply “Get out of the neighborhood!”
Anyway, I’m all right now, just a little shocked, and I’m starting a new apartment search.