4:37, broad daylight by most standards, on Wednesday June
15th right on 145th Street and Broadway one teen shot another
teen four times after a heated argument. Phoenix Garrett,
15, was hustling bootlegs CD’s as an after school activity,
but apparently something went terribly wrong when L'mani Delina
of Springfield Gardens, Queens reportedly opened fire. Garrett
just finished his freshman year at A. Philip Randolph High
School. This is definitely not the first of such murders in
Harlem, but this one is especially heartbreaking because of
the age of the two boys.
On Friday June 24th members of the community organized a campaign
with two goals. First to highlight the murder. Violence being
promoted by television, movies, and music can’t be the
way that our teens feel they have to survive, it can’t
be the guide to the lives of teens. As part of that goal the
members of the community are requesting that the building
that used to house P.S. 186 be opened for immediate construction
and turned into a community center.
P.S. 186 was opened in 1903 as an elementary school for students
in kindergarden to 6th grade. It was closed in 1975 leaving
an abandoned building in the middle of 145th Street. In 1986
however it was sold to Reverend Grant who named it after M
L Wilson. Reverend Grant unfortunately passed away a few weeks
ago so Eugene Campbell is now in charge. The building was
mandated to be built into a community center but more than
20 years after being left abandoned it is still a vacant building.
“The problem is the Mayor’s budget priorities,”
said Ydinas Rodriquez, one of the supporters for this movement.
“The problem is a city that puts jails before jobs,
and a city that puts bombs before books.”
Sol, is a part of this community group. One of the programs
in the Brotherhood Sister Sol is the Liberation program a
youth run program that is meant to look into community affairs
such as the rebuilding of P.S. 186. They have been fighting
for four years to develop a positive, practical, alternative
for teens in the community. They organized the Ujima Unidad
Coalition which is now an independent establishment at the
head of this effort.
Currently the push to turn P.S. 186 to a community center
is very promising. Adriano Espaillat, member of the Assembly
for the 72nd district was in attendance. All the local politicians
have been contacted including Manhattan Borough President
and Mayoral hopeful Virginia Fields. The Ujima Unidad Coalition
are getting signatures for a petition that will be sent to
Eugene Campbell along with all the politicians who are putting
together the budgets. They currently have 4, 000 signatures
and they are trying to get 10,000.
For more information you can contact Ujima Unidad Coalition,
contact them at 212-283-7044. They usually meet the first
Saturday of the month, but because of July 4th the next meeting
is Saturday July 9th.
exhibition has been created by local youth as part of their
fight to transform the building into a community center. Through
photos, video, audio, text, and interactive activities this
unique exhibition tells the story of the past, present and
potential future of P.S. 186. It is a free exhibition but
donations are accepted.