What might’ve been seen as impossible some years ago, is now a reality as members of the NYPD leaders led by its commissioner, teamed up with Black activists to distribute Thanksgiving Day turkeys to members of the Brownsville community on Monday morning.
Residents gathered at the Crisis Action Center on Rockaway Avenue where volunteers unloaded a van load of turkeys for Thanksgiving.
Commissioner Dermot Shea with his newly minted Chief of Patrol, Juanita Holmes, the highest-ranking woman of color to reach this office, joined with Terrence Floyd, brother of George Floyd killed by a Minnesota cop that sparked national protests; Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner who died in a purported choke-hold. They were brought together by Rev. Kevin McCall who has been seeking better relations between the community and police to change the department for the better.
Carr has since made peace with many law enforcement officials, seeking to improve the way the department deals with communities they patrol. But today, she was interested in distributing turkeys.
“I think it’s beautiful to give to the families so they can have Thanksgiving with their loved ones and have a meal together,” Carr said. “It’s time to give back to the community and that’s what today is all about.”
“Today we decided to give to families who do not have a turkey – some families don’t have and can’t afford a turkey for Thanksgiving during this coronavirus,” McCall said. “So we decided to give out free turkeys, something we do annually and we are thankful to those who have sponsored this and connected with us including Max Supermarket and Rubenstein & Rynecki, EDP, and all those who decided to give free turkeys. This is not political, it’s about making sure people have a happy Thanksgiving.”
While Commissioner Shea did not speak at this event, officials say this was an overture to the community to build trust with the community. In the past, many residents had been suspicious of the police and especially Brownsville, which has suffered some of the highest crime rates and shootings in the city, but also had issues of trust as many of the past stop and frisk was done in this area, creating anger among many residents. That policy has since ended years ago.
Gail Lindsay, a long time resident of Brownsville, joined the line of residents and said she felt “wonderful” about getting her free turkey.
“It’s been a very hard year, so this is a blessing for everybody and we will now have a very nice Thanksgiving,” Lindsay said.