It's out with the gangs and in with the games at a Morrisania playground.
A seven-week summer program at the Mott Playground is being funded by money forfeited during gang busts conducted by the NYPD using social media.
“It’s the one good thing that the drug dealers can contribute to the community,” said Bridget Brennan, the city's Special Narcotics Prosecutor. “We take their money and put it right back into fun things like this.”
The playground will participate in a Police Athletic League program that sets up basketball tournaments, table games, and other creative activities.
A joint effort conducted by the 44th Precinct and Brennan's office has taken down 41 gang members in the Morrisania area since 2011.
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Last year, members of “Dub City” and “WTG” gangs were picked up and prosecuted after investigators began tracking their violent acts through online sites such as Facebook and YouTube.
Brennan said the gangs were using social media as a tool for recruitment as well as a forum to taunt rivals.
Money confiscated from the 6 Wild gang during a raid in June conducted by the NYPD and Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor. Funds from similar seizures are being used to fund the PAL progam.
“There was a lot of bluster, a lot of bragging about money,” the prosecutor said. “Lots of pictures of big hordes of cash and talking about how much money they were scoring. And that was used to attract young people to the gang.”
Murders and shootings in the precinct have been cut in half over the last two years, and the 44th Precinct commander believes the takedowns had a big role.
“When you’re able to extract almost 40 of the worst people in your command it has a tremendous impact on the quality of life,” said Insp. Kevin Catalina.
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Last month, 11 members of a violent crew “6 Wild” were indicted in connection with a series of home invasions.
The crew, which operated in the area around Mott Playground, posted photos of large amounts of cash and other stolen items.
About 50 kids waited patiently until the ribbon was formally cut on Wednesday morning, then enjoyed knock-hockey, Connect Four and basketball.
Jeremy Casso, an 11-year-old from Morrisania, not only enjoyed the games, but absorbed a larger message
“What (the cops) do makes kids like me want to do good things,” he said. “I want to be a criminal prosecutor because I want to help families that have been through something bad or dealt with something bad.”