On a steamy night on the corner of a Bedford-Stuyvesant block in late August, District Attorney Charles Hynes stood waiting for the Reverend Al Sharpton.
Though he has fought crime in the borough for decades, Mr. Hynes, who is in his sixth term as the Brooklyn district attorney, looked slightly out of place loitering on a dark patch of sidewalk in front of a dicey-looking housing project near midnight.
Well into his 70s, Mr. Hynes is grandfatherly in appearance, white-haired and slightly hunched. He wore a bright blue checkered shirt, cleanly pressed, with an open collar. He waited patiently, a sizable police detail nearby, until Rev. Sharpton arrived, 20 minutes late, in a chauffeured black Navigator.
Last Friday night, huddled together at the corner of 111th street and 5th Avenue in Harlem, a circle of about thirty individuals held hands. Their eyes were closed in prayer. The orange glow of the headlamps formed neon smudges against the black night sky. Two NYPD officers stood nearby, arms crossed, waiting. Opposite a church on the corner of 129th Street and 7th Avenue, a similar crowd looped around a stage, surrounded by blue lights and peace signs painted gold. Some youths lined up to perform raps and songs, which they had written themselves.
This was the last weekend of Occupy the Corners, an initiative created in response to the recent wave of shootings and organized by National Action Network (NAN), a not-for-profit civil rights organization. For the past four weekends, community activists, politicians, church leaders and local civilians have stood in solidarity at the most dangerous corners in New York, watching for any signs of violence.
On Friday, NAN founder and president, Reverend Al Sharpton, joined the campaigners.
MSNBC PoliticsNation host Reverend Al Sharpton said in a statement that he was “shocked and grief stricken by the reported news of the suicide of Don Cornelius, the creator of Soul Train.”