10.31.08 9:11PM - THIS JUST IN: NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly addresses the media.
(video still from NY1)
The best place for information on this issue might be the NYPD, telephone numbers for individual precincts can be found here. More updates below, including new information today regarding the threat in Williamsburg Brooklyn.
Citizen Schools, an after school program for middle school youths has canceled their program today at MS 45 East Harlem, on advice from the NYPD and school officials, who are expecting heightened crime in the area. Citizen Schools has attributed the concern to activities on the Night of Mischief, the even of Halloween.
Confused about the type of activities expected, (smashing pumpkins and throwing eggs?) NYC The Blog contacted the 25th Precinct in East Harlem for more information, who asserted that information they have been receiving leads them to believe their will be heightened gang activity by the Bloods Gang today in East Harlem, between the hours of 3-5pm. Asked if West Harlem community groups or police are also operating under this belief, Precinct 25 was reluctant to discuss that, and suggested calling the precinct up here.
More information as it becomes available.
Happy Halloween kids.
UPDATE: Before referencing the information below, it should be noted that earlier, while speaking to Precinct 25, I pressed for more details about the nature of the threats and what communities should be concerned, and was given the phone number for the community affairs office, who have not returned the call at this time. I have no further official information at this time.
- Heavy traffic is flowing to this post from Google, dwarfing even the heavy traffic that Gothamist can move when they direct it your way, with people searching all manner of different variations of the same theme, gang violence on Halloween in nyc.
Looking at some of the search results bring you to years past when similar warnings or crime took place. In one instance dating back to 1997 the NY Times details the fear that gripped children and schools on Halloween following similar rumors. And it is not unique to nyc, as the police chief of Winston-Salem NC held a press conference earlier this month to debunk rumors of planned gang violence at a state fair, information circulating by email.
- On Yahoo answers, which inexplicably seems to be populated by teen-agers in nyc, one thread started yesterday wrote,
"Rumor: Bloods are suppose to be killing women before and on Halloween? Just got a txt msg from my cousin n then my friend that the Mayor in Newark announced that he got a phone call stating that there will be murders geared toward women."Which was then answered by posters who alternately mock the suggestion or claim it is very real. Another thread on Yahoo answers deals with the same rumor,
"Blood gang initiation today?!? I heard today was the BLOOD initiation, and tomorrow. Is it true? Someone also told me that it was on Friday. When is it?"Posters are noting that texts are being sent claiming violence to occur, as well as some posters asserting their parents work as court officers or police officers and have passed on the warnings. Lots of rumor and innuendo, and I recall a decade ago hearing similar rumors about drive by shootings that were going to take place on Halloween as gang initiation. Rumors that turned out to be just that, rumors.
- The Jersey Journal newspaper is reporting that due to "rumors around that there were going to be problems -- rumors of gangs in the schools," schools added security today. "Newark's school superintendent canceled all athletic events after two people were killed in drive-by shootings on Friday."
- In what appears to be another variation of a gang initiation rumor, similar to the one debunked in Winston-Salem mentioned above, Metro Police in Las Vegas earlier this month have evaluated a threat delivered via the internet claiming a gang will shoot a woman in the head at a gas station, and determined it to be a hoax.
- The Folklorist looks into the flashing headlights gang initiation rumor and the Halloween night violence rumor and finds them to not be credible.
- A poster in yet another Yahoo Answers thread about the gang threat writes,
"They aren't rumors. My friend is an officer with the NYPD. He sent me a text that officers in precincts all over NY and NJ have been issued memos and put on high alert. The Bloods initiation is today, tomorrow (Halloween), and Saturday. People who want to be initiated into the gang must each kill 31 women (women of all ages) in drive by shootings. I don't think it hit the media yet (surprisingly) so when it was on the news about random shootings in Newark, NJ, the gang initiation was not mentioned."
- The Dailyopia tumblr posted an email forwarded from a friend, (hmm...) which says "I work at a school in my community called El Puente and we have been advised that the Bloods are having their initiation today..." The email asserts that the police are taking the threat very real this year and "All the local schools have been notified and are sending children home and canceling after-school programs as we have." (Thanks Lebird!)
- NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly speaks to the press addressing the allegations, saying "we've heard it because people were talking about what's out there, on the internet, but we have no specific information to indicate that there's any validity to this rumor."