- Special Projects
On a recent Wednesday afternoon, about fifteen high school students from the International Community High School (ICHS) in the South Bronx stood at the gates of City Hall, where they plan to stand every Wednesday until their demands are met: sports at their school, and all small schools in New York City.
“Chancellor Fariña, you did not read our research. If you did, you would be standing with us and not against us!” belted senior Sory Konate. Other students chanted “Civil rights matter!” to the rhythm of four students drumming on bright orange Home Depot buckets. They stood behind a bright white banner embossed with the image of a clasped black fist and their movement’s social media tag, #civilrightsmatter.
Standing by, distributing fliers and keeping an eagle eye out for councilmembers, was David Garcia-Rosen, the man who had been their school dean until March, when he was removed from the school following another action calling for expanded access to sports.
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.