Police busted up a heavily attended rap video on a Brooklyn street on Saturday night, issuing 60 summonses and making two related gun arrests for guns in an area where more than 900 people have died of coronavirus.
Cops from the 69th Precinct were called to popular eNVee Barber Shop, 8708 Avenue L in Canarsie, at about 8:20 p.m. on April 18 after receiving reports of a large gathering.
When the officers arrived, they found a very large crowd gathered inside the shop filming a rap video for rapper Kelly King Kelly. The plan, according to witnesses, was to have an after party at the same location.
Police reported the group was not social distancing, though some were wearing masks.
Additional police units were quickly called as the raucous crowd refused to leave. Nearly 100 police officers surrounded the store and began searching those who were being given summonses.
During the searches, law enforcement sources said, two guns were found — one in a man’s possession, and the other located inside the barber shop.
Fifty people were removed from eNVee Barber Shop by Officers from the 69th Precinct on Saturday night. (Photo by Lloyd Mitchell)
Police arrested Jamel Dorsett, 30, of Hazen Street in Queens. He was charged with criminal possession of a weapon, possession of a firearm, possession of marijuana and given a summons for the gathering.
Also arrested was Kayla Phillips, 28, of Stanley Avenue in Brooklyn. She was hit with the same charges along with additional counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument and criminal trespass.
Neighborhood residents were shocked to see the large crowd gathered in the store, a community in ZIP code 11236 that has had nearly a thousand confirmed COVID-19 cases and numerous deaths.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said at his Sunday press conference that he understood that the mostly young people “may not understand, feel or hear the news the way we do.” He said younger folks “didn’t understand how dangerous the situation was.”
“I want to say thank you to the officers who broke it up, but I also want to send a message to the young people to think about the aunts, uncles and grandparents who you may bring this to,” de Blasio said. “We need to be safe, so getting together for a party – they can pick up the virus and pass it from one person to another and go home and give it to a relative. It is not business as usual – shouldn’t be partying in the middle of a pandemic.”
Tony Herbert, a community activist and resident of Canarsie, was outraged and called the group “a bunch of idiots putting the whole neighborhood at risk.” Herbert said his community has suffered some of the highest rates of coronavirus infection and has caused many deaths.
“This law is designed to protect them, so it shows a lack of respect for rules that save lives,” Herbert said. “At the end of day, it sends the wrong message when we must protect community. Here they are not practicing proper PPE and that puts the community in harms way again. We have some of the highest rates of death. God forbid some folks will get sick, it’s totally irresponsible.”
Canarsie residents were also outraged by the gathering.
“It’s pretty crazy that there is 50 people in the barber shop it is really crazy,” said observer Jamal, who refused to give his last name. “First of all, I never noticed anything unusual in that barber shop. Coronavirus is a serious thing in the black community, it can wreck the community, you don’t know who one person came into contact with it will spread like wildfire.”
“They have a right to take them out – you aren’t supposed to be more than six feet apart. They deserve what they have coming to them.” said another resident, Clarke Oblinar.
“I find that very disrespectful, it is the health and people, said Canarsie resident Christ Mercier. “It is a very scary place and it is disrespectful to the people fighting the coronavirus and battling it out in the hospitals. They should know better.”
“They were shooting a music video, someone called it in and the cops crashed it. I’ve never seen so many cops,” said another woman who wouldn’t give her name.
Police have been making thousands of visits to potential gathering places around the city, as they too have been contracting COVID-19. On Saturday, 14.3% of the uniformed cops were reported to be out sick.
“No one wants to give you a fine, the police and Parks Department dont wan’t give anyone a fine – they will give you a warning, and if you listen, you won’t get a fine,” the mayor said, adding that summons and arrest are “last resort.”
Those who violate the gathers laws can face fines up to $1000. Anyone who wants to report a large gathering, can text photos to 311-692 or use 311 app.
With additional reporting by Lloyd Mitchell