If you tell Big Herc that you want to become a Blood he will stretch his palm out and kindly ask you to repeat yourself. If you are stupid enough to do it, he will slap you in the face. “You still wanna be a Blood?” he’ll ask, and then keep slapping if he senses you can’t make up your mind. “I want to see where your heart is,” he might say.
Herc is short for Hercules, but his real name is Shamar Thomas. He’s a 29-year-old former marine who did two tours in Iraq, including a stretch in Fallujah in 2004. According to Herc, it’s those with weakness in their eyes—”The ones with no hearts”—who go out and commit most of the senseless shootings that kill so many people in his neighborhood of East Flatbush.
Standing at the pulpit, Nancy Baptiste led her congregation in reciting not amens or hymns, but the number most public housing tenants have committed to memory:
That’s the phone number New York City Housing Authority, or NYCHA, tenants call when something needs to be fixed. Too often, Baptiste said, no one shows up, the wrong work gets done, or the maintenance crew makes the problem worse.
“Enough is enough,” said Baptiste, who lives in Canarsie’s Bayview Houses. “It’s time for the mayor to show up and be accountable. Give NYCHA the money it needs to finish the work, hire enough staff to get the job done right, and make sure they’re properly supervised so the work is completed.”
South Richmond Hill logged more than 200 complaints of illegal curb cuts or driveways, double the amount from last year, and far higher than any other neighborhood in New York, according to an analysis of 311 data.