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What’s News, Breaking: Monday, June 5, 2023

June 5, 2023 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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CITYWIDE — The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has unveiled the city’s first public health vending machine, hosted by Services for the Underserved to promote 24/7 access to lifesaving harm reduction supplies conveniently and anonymously to meet a goal outlined in the mental health plan.

Anyone can use the machine: Individuals simply enter their New York City ZIP code followed by the numerical code listed below the product. Instructions and contact information for support will be posted on the machine in English and Spanish.

As part of its Care, Community, Action plan released in March, the city has committed to supporting people at risk of a fatal overdose and a goal of reducing overdose deaths by 15% by 2025. Increasing access to free naloxone is part of the City’s plan and focuses on populations with the highest rates of overdose death and risk of experiencing or witnessing an overdose.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

Public health vending machines are considered an innovative, low-barrier strategy to reduce stigma and reach New Yorkers who may not already be connected to harm reduction services. Similar machines in the United States, Europe, and Australia have demonstrated success in reducing rates of overdose and infectious disease.

Naloxone. Eagle photo by Mary Frost.



STATEWIDE — New Yorkers who want to quit smoking can contact the NYS Smokers’ Quitline or the Asian Smokers’ Quitline and speak with a Quit Coach, thanks to a new media campaign that the Health Department launched on Monday, June 5, to help New Yorkers access tobacco treatment resources.

Those who are eligible — most are — can receive a free NYC Quits starter kit of nicotine medications (i.e., nicotine patches and lozenges).

The $1.5 million “Every New Yorker!” campaign is running citywide via television, radio, and digital ads, LinkNYC, and the Staten Island Ferry from June 5 through June 30.    

Asserting that the tobacco industry targets ethnic groups with advertising, city Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan said, “The facts are clear, smoking remains a leading risk for preventable disease, suffering and death for New Yorkers, and while Big Tobacco will do whatever it takes to keep people smoking, we have tools and the stubborn commitment to help our city fight back. This is especially true for people of color and communities like my own, the Asian Pacific Islander community, who are specifically targeted by industry messaging to smoke.”



CITYWIDE — ‘Big Apple Connect’ — considered the nation’s largest municipal broadband program — has surpassed 100,000 household enrollments, Mayor Eric Adams and Chief Technology Officer and New York City Office of Technology and Innovation (OTI) Commissioner Matthew Fraser said on Monday, June 5.

Since its inception last fall, Big Apple Connect has provided free internet and basic cable television access to approximately 300,000 New Yorkers at 202 sites across the five boroughs. The program has saved NYCHA residents tens of millions of dollars since its inception, according to service providers, and the city is currently evaluating additional developments to include in the program.

Big Apple Connect provides residents of NYCHA developments a free bundle that consists of in-home, high-speed internet connection, including a modem and router; basic cable TV service, including a cable box and remote control; and common area Wi-Fi hotspots, selected in consultation with NYCHA. Existing customers of Optimum and Spectrum living in NYCHA developments where Big Apple Connect is active are automatically enrolled in the program and are only billed for additional services they choose to purchase directly.

The city has entered into three-year agreements with Altice (Optimum) and Charter (Spectrum), which will collectively cover most developments owned and managed by NYCHA. OTI is billed directly for all residents enrolled in Big Apple Connect.

The immense response means that approximately 75% of New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) households eligible for the program now have access to broadband through Big Apple Connect.



MANHATTAN BEACH — Kingsborough Community College will receive $100,000 in funding from Citizens Bank as part of an additional $400,000 investment in the Education Design Lab’s Community College Growth Engine to benefit CUNY two-year colleges. Citizens’ investment will enable each of the participating CUNY community colleges (LaGuardia, Borough of Manhattan and Queensborough) to develop additional micro-pathways in concert with local employers in high-growth industries that are aligned with regional labor market demand.

“It is an exciting time to continue our partnership with the Education Design Lab (EDL) to prepare students for a career in tourism and hospitality as the industry expands in New York City,” said Dr. Simone Rodriguez, vice president of Workforce Development, Continuing Education & Strategic Partnerships at Kingsborough Community College. “This new funding will allow the Division to create a new micro-credential pathway in Hospitality and Customer Service to be offered free to participants in the fall of 2023.

Founded in 1963, Kingsborough Community College is Brooklyn’s only community college — focused on offering Associate’s degrees. (The other CUNY schools in Brooklyn — NYC College of Technology, Medgar Evers and Brooklyn College, all offer four-year degree programs.) Kingsborough Community College’s Division of Workforce Development, Strategic Partnerships & Office of Continuing Education has a long history of successfully executing workforce-training programs.



WILLIAMSBURG — Police on Sunday announced the arrest of Felipe Rodriguez of Williamsburg, 27, as a suspect in the audacious attempted kidnapping of a young girl off the street on Friday evening. 

Police believe Rodriguez was the individual who on Friday ran up to a 7-year-old girl and her mother as they waited at a Wyckoff Avenue food truck stop and physically grabbed the child. After a brief struggle, the mother was able to break the individual’s grip on her daughter, who was not injured. The would-be kidnapper then fled the scene on foot toward Flushing Avenue.

Rodriguez was charged with attempted kidnapping; the investigation is ongoing.



WILLIAMSBURG — Police are warning the public of an attempted kidnapper on the loose, who on the evening of Friday, May 26, attempted to grab a young girl away from her mother off of a Williamsburg street. The unknown suspect ran up to the 36-year-old woman and her 7-year-old daughter, who were waiting at a Wyckoff Avenue food truck stop, and physically grabbed the child; fortunately, after a brief struggle the mother was able to break the individual’s grip on her daughter, who was not injured. The would-be kidnapper then fled the scene on foot toward Flushing Avenue.

The individual being sought is described as a male with a light complexion, a slim build, and a black mustache and beard. He was last seen wearing a green camouflage hooded sweatshirt, black pants and gray sneakers. 

Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at, or on Twitter @NYPDTips.

Does this man look familiar? All tips submitted to police are strictly confidential.
Does this man look familiar? All tips submitted to police are strictly confidential.



GRAVESEND — Police are searching for missing senior Kalybek Abyshakuev, 72, last seen leaving his home on Ocean Parkway in the early morning of Friday, June 2. He is described as around 5′ 7″ and 235 pounds, with a light skin complexion, a heavy/stocky build, and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a black jacket, blue pants, white sneakers and a brown beanie hat with stripes.

Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at, or on Twitter @NYPDTips.

Missing man Kalybek Abyshakuev. All tips submitted to police are strictly confidential.



BROOKLYN AND WATERTOWN, MA — Brooklyn-born Stanley Engerman, who challenged commonly held views on American slavery, and who battled cancer, has died at age 87, reports New York Times obituary writer Richard Sandomir.

Engerman, with Professor Robert W. Fogel, both teaching at the University of Rochester, co-authored “Time on the Cross: The Economics of American Negro Slavery” in 1974 to both acclaim and harsh criticism. Using data analysis (a method which ignited this criticism)  Engerman and Fogel challenged the prevailing attitude that slavery was unprofitable, inefficient and pervasively abusive; instead, “Slave agriculture was not inefficient compared with free agriculture… Economies of large-scale operation, effective management and intensive utilization of labor made Southern slave agriculture 35% more efficient than the Northern system of family farming.” Moreover Engerman and Fogel asserted that the slave, rather than being “lazy, inept and unproductive” was actually harder working and more efficient than his white counterpart.”

Engerman, who in his later years resided in Watertown, Massachusetts, and Fogel acknowledged, in a 1989 edition of their book, that they could have denounced the institution of slavery in much stronger terms — as a “new moral indictment of slavery.”



CITYWIDE — Airbnb, the online platform for short-term rentals popular with vacationers visiting New York, is suing the City of New York over Local Law 18, taking effect in July, reports Gothamist.

Local Law 18 requires short-term rental properties to be registered with the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement, a rule that Airbnb and the hosts complain will threaten to “all but eliminate” the market for home-based vacation stays in the city. The law stems from a bill that City Council passed in 2022 mandating that hosts planning to rent out their property in the city for less than 30 days must fulfill special requirements that include registering with the city and clearing all existing building violations, even if they don’t own the entire building.

More than 60% of the city’s 12,000 Airbnb regular listings are full homes or apartments, many of which will be blocked from registering under the new rules, and in many cases were already illegal under New York state’s multiple dwelling law, which prohibits hosts from renting out their homes when they are absent. Moreover, Many co-op apartment boards prohibit their shareholders from offering short rentals of their apartments.



The MTA on Thursday announced that weekend F train service in southern Brooklyn will terminate at Church Avenue beginning June 2 and continue at intervals through the end of 2023 due to its Culver Line Signal Modernization project, which will fully replace track signals from Church Avenue to West 8th Street, to improve reliability and resilience. During the repair work, weekend F trains will only operate between Jamaica-179 Street and Church Avenue. 

Customers are advised to take nearby D, N and Q trains and local buses for service to closed stations and points north during the first two weekends of the project, from June 2 to June 5 and from June 9 to June 12; then beginning on June 16, free shuttle buses will offer service to the closed stations between Church Avenue and the Coney Island terminus. These changes will be in effect on weekend dates between June 2 and July 10, between Aug. 4 and Sept. 11 and between Nov. 10 and Jan. 1; service will also be disrupted on the weekend of Oct. 21 and Oct. 23, when the free shuttle buses will operate between Kings Highway and Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue.  

All dates are subject to change; for more detailed information about service changes, the MTA advises riders to check its new information website,, or to download its MYmta smartphone app.



WASHINGTON — Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Thursday announced that she had secured $21,783,200 in federal funding for Head Start programs in New York state, including $1.2 million for the Brooklyn programming of Catholic Charities Neighborhood Services. The funding was allocated through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Head Start programs ensure that low-income children from birth to age five have access to comprehensive child development programs, as well as support services for their families. These programs primarily serve pregnant women, infants, and toddlers and offer early education and social services; nutrition, preventative, social and emotional health services; and services for children with disabilities. Catholic Charities offers services through a child’s first year of life, then enrollment priority for free childcare at its Prospect Lefferts Gardens family center.

“Head Start programs ensure that young children are equipped with the resources they need to be set up for success later in life,” said Gillibrand in a press statement. “This federal funding will help ensure that young children and their families have access to high-quality early childhood education and support services.”



STATEWIDE — Aiming to facilitate a college education for New York high school seniors, Governor Kathy Hochul on Thursday, June 1, announced a new outreach program with the state and New York City public university system. As part of her 2023 State of the State agenda to eliminate barriers to higher education, the State University of New York (SUNY) and City University of New York (CUNY) are reaching out to high school seniors in new ways with personalized letters, enrollment coaching and tutorials, and multiple points of contact to assist with enrolling in college and applying for financial aid. CUNY in particular also announced its plans earlier this month and for the first time this coming fall, CUNY is partnering with the New York City Public Schools to send personalized letters welcoming them to CUNY to 65,000 seniors who are on pace to graduate. The letters will lay out their college options at CUNY and invite them to submit a CUNY application.

SUNY and CUNY are also helping students with their financial aid questions through tutorials and multiple points of contact. The two public university systems have found demonstrated success in their personalized letter campaign in helping students decide to enroll.

Just last week, on May 24, Gov. Hochul opened the application period for the state’s Excelsior Scholarship Program, The Excelsior Scholarship, which allows eligible full-time students whose families’ federal adjusted gross incomes are $125,000 or under to attend a CUNY or SUNY two-year or four-year college tuition-free. The application deadline is August 31 for this scholarship program.



BOROUGHWIDE — The Center for Brooklyn History (CBH) at Brooklyn Public Library invites residents and visitors alike to contribute their unique voices and experiences to the upcoming exhibition, “Brooklyn Is…,” scheduled to open this fall. “Brooklyn Is…” seeks to capture the essence of Brooklyn through the eyes and voices of its people.

The exhibition’s goal is to create a collective portrait of the borough by incorporating photographs, memories, and impressions, shared from Brooklyn’s many communities. Individuals are encouraged to contribute by sharing a word, memory, impression, or by uploading a photo that captures their personal connection to Brooklyn. Contributions can be made through the online form available on the Brooklyn Public Library website. In addition, library branches across the borough are available to assist with scanning materials for those who prefer in-person assistance and support. Submissions will be accepted throughout the run of the exhibition, ensuring that a diverse range of voices and perspectives are incorporated. The contributions will be projected on a 30’ x 6’ wall in the exhibition, ensuring into the exhibition.



CITYWIDE — Grand Larceny auto theft rose during May, but shootings, subway crimes and retail theft have declined significantly, and police broke the arrest record for any May in almost a quarter century, according to the latest monthly reports from the NYPD.

The report indicates that New York City saw a 26.5% drop in shooting incidents compared to May 2022 (86 v. 117). During May 2023 the decrease in shootings extends the 25.8% decrease in shooting incidents citywide through the first five months of this year compared to the same period a year ago (379 v. 511) — meaning 154 fewer people have been shot this year compared to last year. Homicides also fell by 33.3% (32 v. 48) last month.

Robberies and muggings in the city’s subway system decreased by 30.9% (38 v. 55) in May, reflecting a 13.1% overall drop in major transit crime.

The city saw a decrease in burglaries of both residences and commercial establishments, as well as a smaller reduction (down 6.4%) from the previous month in retail theft — otherwise known as shoplifting.

During May, NYPD officers made 4,599 arrests in the seven major crime categories, a 13.7% increase compared to the number of such arrests in the same period last year. NYPD officers have made 21,406 such arrests — during the first five months of 2023 — a 24-year high.

However, the report did not mention a recent violent trend of unprovoked punchings, where the assailant stakes out a stranger, engaging him or her in a dispute and then hitting the victim in the face.



CITYWIDE — Ethnic hate crimes around the city tripled during May, according to an NYPD crime statistics report, although no analysis was provided on the increase. According to a chart provided in the report, crimes against Asians in particular increased by 160%, from five incidents in 2022 to 13 in the first five months of this year.

By contrast, reported hate crimes against Hispanics and religiously-based hate crimes against Jews and Muslims also decreased significantly, as did such based on sexual orientation.

Gender crimes — although not specified whether being against transgendered persons in particular — also rose by 150% last month, with five more incidents this year than in May 2022.

Earlier this week, a man was sentenced to prison time and probation for a hate crime last December against a Jewish man in Bay Ridge, with City Councilmember Inna Vernikov (R-48) advocating for the victim in this case.



STATEWIDE — The Elder Parole Bill, which is currently in committee in both houses of the New York State legislature, received support from New York Attorney General Letitia James on Friday, June 2. This bill, whose chief sponsor is State Senator Brad Hoylman of Manhattan, would allow older adults who have already served long sentences to be considered by the Parole Board, on a case-by-case basis, for release to parole supervision.

Brooklyn delegation state lawmakers co-sponsoring the Elder Parole Bill include State Senator Jabari Brisport (D-25/Navy Yard to Brownsville) and Assemblymembers Robert Carroll (D-44/Prospect Hts. to Kensington) and Maritza Davila (D-53/Eastern Brooklyn) The bill would not guarantee anyone’s release, but it would provide hope by providing people an opportunity to appear before the Board.

More than a dozen of the state’s leading crime victim and survivor advocates and anti-violence advocates are calling for passage of the Elder Parole and Fair & Timely Parole bills, along with Fair Access to Victim Compensation, including: Kings County District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault, and New Yorkers Against Gun Violence.

Attorney General James, sharing on social media a Spectrum News article on Elder Parole gaining majority Senate co-sponsorship, said, “The Elder Parole bill will help create a pathway for people to re-enter our society and be reunited with their families. When people transform their lives, they deserve an opportunity for redemption.”



FLATBUSH/MIDWOOD — Pulitzer and Kennedy Center award-winner Tania León served as the keynote speaker and was given an honorary degree at Brooklyn College’s 98th annual Commencement on Friday, June 2, held at Barclays Center.

The themes of mentorship and giving back to the community were center stage at the ceremony. Tania León, a Brooklyn College Professor Emerita, taught there for 35 years and served as director of music composition at the school’s Conservatory of Music until her 2019 retirement. She is the first faculty member in any of the City University of New York (CUNY) schools to receive the prestigious Kennedy Center award. Moreover, she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Music for her work “Stride” in 2021.

After León’s commencement speech, Brooklyn College Foundation Trustee Leonard Tow ’50, founder and chairman of The Tow Foundation, surprised the audience by announcing that the foundation would be providing support toward the establishment of the Tania León Chair of Music — which will be the first-ever named chair in the Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College.

“The Tania León Chair will forever recognize and honor your unmatched legacy at Brooklyn College and in the larger world,” Tow said.

The community also surprised Leonard Tow in turn, with a birthday cake, presented to him in his seat at the Barclays Center auditorium, with Joe Damon Chappel, M.M. ’23, singer from the Brooklyn College Brass Ensemble, leading the song.

Brooklyn College President confers an honorary degree on Tania León. Photo: Brooklyn College.



FLATBUSH/MIDWOOD — Brooklyn College graduated 3,809 students at their 98th Commencement. The valedictorian of the Class of 2023 was Chaim Janani, who received his bachelor’s degree in honors for chemistry. Janani congratulated his fellow graduates and credited his academic success to the support and mentorship he received at Brooklyn College, which helped him to fulfill his dream of becoming a physician. This fall, he will begin medical school in the fall at the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University.

The class salutatorian, Lisa Leopold-Chaparro, a Guttman Transfer Scholar and co-teacher at a private preschool outside Brooklyn, received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Early Childhood. Leopold-Chaparro will continue her studies at Brooklyn College’s early childhood education graduate program, with a goal of working with at-risk students in public schools.

Officially, Brooklyn College conferred 2,871 students who have received baccalaureate degrees, 850 who earned master’s degrees, and 88 students who will receive advanced certificates.

(Left to right) Class of 2023 Salutatorian Lisa Leopold-Chaparro, Brooklyn College President Michelle J. Anderson, and the valedictorian Chaim Janani. Photo: Brooklyn College.

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