On Sunday, 4/14/13, cyclists affiliated with Time’s Up once again took to the streets of NYC with stencils and spray paint. Last month, the group targeted 8 locations where pedestrians and cyclists were killed by automobiles over the last year. In each case, the driver had clearly broken at least one traffic law, yet the NYPD declared “No Criminality Suspected” within hours and did not release their crash investigation reports to the public or the victims of the families.
Last night the group targeted two locations, both in Brooklyn, where pedestrians were killed within the last month. At one site, in East Flatbush, two-year-old Denim McLean was killed at a bus stop when a car sped through a red light and careened onto the sidewalk. Ten others were hospitalized, including Denim’s mother, 37-year-old Wendy McLean, who was left in a coma. Not two weeks later, 83-year-old Irvin Gitlitz was killed in front of Atlantic Center. The truck that crushed him as he was crossing Flatbush Avenue was not equipped with the “crossover section mirrors” which allow drivers to see in front of their elevated cabs, and which have been required on trucks by New York State law since January of 2012. In both cases, the NYPD has declared “No Criminality Suspected.”
According to Keegan Stephan, one of the organizers of the action, “To us, these two cases exemplify the extent of traffic violence and the inadequate police response. No one is safe, from a two-year -old boy standing on the sidewalk to an 83-year-old trying to cross the street. And no vehicular crime – from speeding, to running a red light, to driving on the sidewalk, to lacking mandatory safety equipment – is prosecuted by the NYPD.”
The group argues that as long as traffic violence goes unchecked, it will continue to be perpetuated. “As we biked through East Flatbush to the first stencil,” said Josh Bisker, another organizer, a car sped past us blaring its horn, nearly hitting us, and almost crashed into a couple pushing their stroller across the narrow street. They literally shrieked and jumped backwards out of the crosswalk, pulling the stroller with them. One block later, the car ran a red light without slowing down.”
At the second location, an approaching police vehicle caused the group to disperse mid-stencil. They returned later to finish the job. “It’s ironic,” remarked Stephan, “that our activities were more likely to be prosecuted than those of the driver who endangered our lives and those of that family in East Flatbush earlier the same night.”
The group vows to continue until the NYPD changes its policy of declaring “No Criminality Suspected” without releasing crash reports to the public.
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Video footage of Time’s Up! Memorial Project from 2001