BRIGHTON BEACH – For residents and storekeepers on one Neptune Avenue block between Ocean Parkway and Brighton 3rd Street, being close to Lincoln High School has been an unrelenting disaster.
Massive groups of students, often high on marijuana, wreak chaos, and intimidate the neighborhood every school day, neighbors complain. The large groups of teenagers — often 60 kids or more — block entryways, dance on Dunkin’ Donuts tables, play dice games, and harass residents and store owners to the point that business owners say their commerce is interrupted and residents say it has become unsafe to leave their apartments.
Businesses Plan for Daily Chaos
The incidents are so regular that shopkeepers anticipate them to occur between 8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m., 1:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. and 2:45 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m each school day.
“I have to prepare for them coming in the morning, their lunch, the period when school gets out and the time the kids who do detention get out,” said Ralph Perez, the manager of the S&K Pharmacy on 371 Neptune Avenue. “When I open at 9 in the morning, I always have at least four or five of them, sometimes many more blocking my door. No one wants to come here when they are here, they make this place like a ghost town.”
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Recent incidents in front of the S&K Pharmacy include groups of 50-60 students jumping on cars parked in front, damaging them, Simon Field, the owner of the pharmacy said.
“I’ve been here 20 years, the high school has always been here but it has never been this bad,” said Field. While neighbors say incidents have happened in the past, this school year has been the worst in recent memory.
“When four or five cops come to police this area, they can’t do anything because there are so many students,” Field explained that elderly customers are often afraid of coming to his pharmacy and they ask for delivery instead of coming in person because of the students.
Neighbors Afraid to Leave Homes
Across the street from the pharmacy is a condo building with noticeable green glass windows: 384 Neptune Avenue. George, who lives in the building and asked us to only use his first name, said students sit in the entryway refusing to leave and often yell profanities at residents, calling them “motherf—er,” telling them to “suck my d*ck,” and saying other obscene things.
“We can’t leave our building without first checking a security camera livestream of our entryway and making sure the students are not there,” George said.
George saw students smoking marijuana and dancing on the tables at the Dunkin’ Donuts on November 22. Four police cars from the 60th Precinct came to disperse the students.
At about 3p.m. on Tuesday, November 26, while Bklyner was interviewing George in the Dunkin’ Donuts, students came in and although employees behind the counter shouted at them to not eat outside food, they used the Dunkin’ Donuts tables to eat outside food without buying anything, ignoring the Dunkin’ Donuts staff. Meanwhile, four police officers were standing guard in the parking lot and a police car came by the block with sirens flashing ordering students to disperse from the area over a bull horn.
Physical Assault, Harassment, and Destruction of Property
Andrey, an openly gay lawyer also living at 384 Neptune said he fled Russia due to persecution of homosexuals, recounted how on the morning of November 14, students threatened his life and broke the entrance door on his building in an attempt to assault him.
He showed stills from security camera footage on his phone of himself fleeing the students just in the nick of time. “We have to spend about $4,000 on a new secure door to replace the old one after that,” said Andrey.
Yet that was not the only upsetting incident. “About two weeks ago, one of them kicked my mom in the butt, she doesn’t like to go out anymore,” said Andrey.
Police Suggest To Check Cameras Before Going Out
About a month ago, a group of residents from the building with Andrey went to the 60th Precinct to discuss the issue of the students with police officers and the group was told to check cameras and they would be escorted outside each time they wanted to go out if they were afraid.
“The police want to know if someone got injured or killed when we call 911, if not they can’t do anything,” said Andrey. The lawyer has a lease until February and plans to move if nothing changes.
The ground floor of 384 Neptune Ave. is home to a medical office known as the Ocular Center and the owner said his office fills up with the smell of marijuana from the students who smoke in front regularly.
“They block our doors, and make a big noise cursing, jumping and dancing – they are a danger to pedestrians,” he said.
Customers of the Ocular Center are losing their vision and often already have trouble finding the building due to that, the crowds of students make it even more difficult.
“From the first day of school we have had this problem, one of my employees just yesterday saw the police arresting a kid,” he said.
At the S&K Pharmacy, a woman who would not give her name but said she lived in a nearby building, shared she struggled with getting her children to daycare, “I have twin four-year-olds, and they blow marijuana smoke in my kid’s faces.”
She said her husband has tried to be civil with the students but to no avail. One day she saw a group of nearly 40 students cornering a woman and shouting in her face on the street. She captured the incident on video.
The students did not leave until police arrived.
She recounted how she saw students break into an unrented medical office on the street and spray paint downstairs, infuriating the owner.
“They used to have the school safety officers posted here in the morning but after they stopped doing that things started to get real bad,” she said. “It is their sheer number that worries me.”
At the Metro PCS store on 370 Neptune Avenue, employees Masha and John said they needed to install special locks on their merchandise after an incident in May where students came in and stole airpods, phone cases, and other accessories.
The employees had security camera footage of the theft but said the police did not catch the perpetrators. The pair regularly call the police when 30 or more students try to come into the store at once making it impossible for them to keep track of their inventory.
The two were the only employees working recently when they had to protect a student from being attacked by a large number of students.
“A group tried to attack a guy, with a “leader” [a student instigating others] saying ‘he called me a nigger.’ The guy ran into the store and John blocked the door stopping a bunch of guys while I called the cops,” Masha said.
The students have blocked traffic on Neptune in the past, causing severe traffic jams, John said, and only cops can get the students to leave.
From the Metro PCS store, there is a clear view of the Dunkin’ Donuts across the street and John said he has seen students getting into fights in the Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot.
At the Kings Hair Salon, on the corner of Ocean Parkway and Neptune Avenue Michael, the owner, said he sees the students walking to Lincoln High School in the mornings.
“They smoke weed in front of my door and throw dice when I get ready to open at 9:00 a.m., it takes a long time for the police to come,” Michael said. Michael sees the students as a threat to his business, “Customers are afraid to come out when they are in front, that is how they kill my business.”
The NYPD’s public information office did not answer Bklyner’s inquiries about the number of students who congregate on the block, if they have received reports of students arriving stoned to the area, or if there are future plans to enhance enforcement in the area. We will update if they do.