More than 300 frustrated parents and administrators of four schools housed in a building located at 70 Tompkins Avenue across from Marcy Houses protested Friday morning on the school’s grounds, calling for greater police presence, following a Wednesday afternoon shooting and lockdown-- the fifth the building has experienced since January 4.
Success Academy Charter School, one of the four schools in the building that serves 800 students, lead the protest, complaining that each time there is a shooting, a lockdown occurs, forcing all of the students of all four schools into the hallways and away from the windows until police are able to canvass the area.
“Five lockdowns in eight days, I don’t know, I don’t know,” said Success Academy Principal Monica Burress shaking her head. “But What I do know is the gun violence has got to stop, and that’s the police’s job to figure out what is going on.
“We no longer can sit in silence and accept the violence in our neighborhood. It’s time for our voices to be heard. We want heightened police presence and awareness in this neighborhood.”
Burress, who has three school-aged children of her own, admits that the police have been responsive, but it’s usually after the fact.
“We need it to happen beforehand, we need them to be preemptive. This neighborhood is a high-crime neighborhood and we need presence here so that it doesn’t happen, because our families fear for their children’s safety every day.”
Brooklyn Success Academy on Tompkins Street was founded by former city councilwoman Eva Moskowitz and her Success Academy charter school network. The school has a longer school day and year than traditional public schools and is known for its fast-paced curriculum.
Raquel Hampton, 41, the mother of a 5-year-old and a 6-year-old who attend Success Academy, was at the protest calling for heightened police presence. She said she was happy with the school, but she struggled with explaining to her kindergartener why his day was being interrupted by lockdowns. According to Hampton, most of the parents try to shield their children from the fear of gun violence.
“I’ve seen police presence. Do I think it’s enough? No,” said Hampton. “My son said to me he wanted to write a paragraph to the school, because one of his classmates told him the school was shut down because of a shooting. I don’t think that’s what my children or anyone’s children should want to write about when we ask them to write us a sentence.
“I need my children to go to school and be happy, not afraid,” said Hampton. “Because I don’t know how to explain that.”