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The New Yorker - The Police and the Policed
The dream of becoming a photojournalist has always held a special place in my heart. The allure of venturing into unfamiliar territories and engaging with people you might never cross paths with in your personal life is an enticing prospect. It's an escape, a way to temporarily immerse oneself in someone else's world. For this particular assignment, I had the opportunity to step into the shoes of Big Mel.

Big Mel served as my guide through Brownsville, leading me through a mosaic of projects and community areas within the neighborhood. It felt as though every square meter of the neighborhood held a unique story, each more compelling than the last. The assignment proceeded swiftly, encompassing a mere two days of my life. The first day was spent alongside Big Mel, while the second day allowed me to explore independently.

The initial day with Big Mel was an experience that felt like an entire week in itself. Meeting an array of individuals and delving into the rich tapestry of background information regarding the neighborhood was an eye-opening experience. I learned about the intricate dynamics of the local community, the rivalries between different projects, the nuances of police presence, the neighborhood's history, and even the best spots to grab a meal. It was a journey of discovery and connection.

The second day was when I truly began to capture the essence of the neighborhood through my camera lens. Even though Big Mel wasn't physically present that day, his spirit and approval seemed to linger in the air. Every person I met and interacted with gave the impression that they had heard of my presence, and I could only imagine that it was through Big Mel that the news had spread – there was a photographer wandering the neighborhood, and there was no cause for alarm. Thanks to the wisdom and historical insights Big Mel had shared with me, I could perceive the intricate DNA of the neighborhood. I witnessed the resilient heartbeat that kept the community alive, even when everything seemed stacked against them.




The photos accompanied Saki Knafo's article titled 'Bridging the Divide Between the Police and the Policed.' The piece revolves around Officer Craig Edelman, who climbed the ranks of the NYPD to eventually become the commander of the 73rd Precinct in Brownsville in 2019. Edelman's leadership style exacerbated existing tensions between the community and the police. He was later reassigned following the emergence of a video during the protests last summer, showing another officer violently shoving a woman to the ground while Edelman stood by without intervening.

Though this summary is oversimplified, a deeper exploration in the article reveals broader issues. It delves into the structure of the NYPD, its historical evolution, the path an officer takes to rise through the ranks, and the role of policing in Brownsville. The narrative also shines a spotlight on community-led efforts to reform the system, making it a comprehensive examination of the complexities surrounding law enforcement and community dynamics.

You can read the full article here.






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