STATEN ISLAND (CBS 2) – A nationwide effort to target crime hit home on Tuesday night.
Community leaders used “National Night Out Against Crime” as an opportunity to announce a new plan to fight bias crime in Port Richmond.
At “Ralph’s,” where they line up for Italian ice, residents told CBS 2’s Rob Morrison enough is enough when it comes to the recent spate of hate crimes.
“This is what we need, the spirit of people together showing we’re all one; we all live here. Staten Island is a wonderful borough,” Roberta Weisshar said.
Shannon Mayo said she wants her kids to learn about tolerance.
“Everybody’s trying to maintain the same purpose to make sure everybody’s doing what they’re supposed to do,” Mayo said.
All over, amidst the increased police presence, a community is trying to reclaim its good name.
“The individuals who have perpetrated these crimes are cowards,” City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said.
There have been 11 attacks, primarily against Mexican immigrants, since April, though the exact motives remain unclear.
“Why they are being targeted is not really important. It is that they are being targeted,” Councilwoman Debi Rose said.
Part of the new plan is to have businesses on Port Richmond Avenue band together and create a network of safe zones — places where anyone who feels threatened in any way can quickly duck in and get help.
“We’re here to make Port Richmond safe. I have a lot invested here. My business is here,” Dennis Alestra said.
In a show of force they handed out leaflets along the avenue to announce the new campaign.
Meanwhile, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his police commissioner, on a five-borough tour, stopped at picturesque Midland Beach promenade’s night out celebration.
“Make no mistake about it, no matter who you are or where you come from you have a right to be safe on the streets of our city,” Bloomberg said.
Residents are hoping his words carry back to Port Richmond.
Community leaders also announced the implementation of a new high school level anti-bias curriculum with funds from the Department of Education.