Park Slope residents organize a group of vigilantes to patrol their upscale Brooklyn neighborhood and nearby Prospect Park after a dog was killed by a crazy homeless man in August.
Calling themselves the Park Slope Panthers, the group talks about following the model of the Guardian Angels – who made the New York City subway famous in the 1970s and ’80s by wearing red berets that wore street clothes in the lawless transportation system. .
‘Do we want to organize a community safety patrol and take back our park? Think about what the Guardian Angels did to take the subways back in the 1970s/early 80s,” Panthers organizer Kristian Nammack, 59, wrote in a social media post the group hosted, “Maybe we’ll get to wear cool berets too. . I am serious.’
But inside accounts of the Park Slope Panthers’ first meeting sound less like a group of residents gathering to defend their neighborhood, and more like a wake workshop too timid to offend anyone to get anything done.
“It’s about finding an unbiased way to report these things and make people feel safe here,” said a panther named Emily. Common sense“You don’t want to fall into that stereotype of privilege.”
The group tries to model themselves after the Guardian Angels, the vigilantes who kept the New York City subway famous in the 1970s and 1980s.
The group was formed by Kristian Nammack, 59, a financial advisor who was a member of Occupy Wallstreet and described his politics as ‘Leni’s left’
Nammack was inspired to organize the Park Slope Panthers after a golden retriever mix named Moose was killed by a homeless man chasing him and his owner, Jessica Chrustic, 41, early in the morning on Aug. 3.
The man attacked Moose and Chrustic with a large stick, and the dog died from internal injuries days later.
After the incident, Nammack, a financial adviser who was a member of the 2008 Occupy Wallstreet protests and describes his politics as “the left of Lenin,” decided to organize the group to clean up the neighborhood.
“Because people feel unsafe to use Prospect Park due to recent attacks from both humans and dogs, in one case resulting in the death of a dog; and in light of the epidemic of packages being stolen from sidewalks and lobbies, we want to form a neighborhood watch,” read a call to action on MeetUp, “The goal is to be eyes and ears and take back our neighborhood.”
But the Park Slope Panthers’ first meeting last Saturday in Prospect Park quickly turned into a confusion of white Brooklynites bickering over how not to insult each other as they woke up in slang.
About a quarter of an hour after the meeting started, a trio of twenty-somethings in medical face masks and goggles joined the group to say that they “were not fond of holding onto the structure you’re setting up.”
Another white person joined in and asked why the group took the name from the Black Panthers.
“There are two statues of panthers at the entrance to the park,” Nammack said, pointing the statues forward.
To this, a woman—also white—reacted, saying, “Using the Panthers as your group’s name is a bit repulsive to me. It feels contrary to what the Black Panthers would stand for.”
Moose, a golden retriever mix who was murdered on August 3 by a crazy homeless man in Prospect Park
The mad homeless man attacked Moose with a large stick early in the morning of August 3. Moose later died of internal injuries from the attack
Besides agreeing on their name, the group also couldn’t agree on what to do with the man who killed Moose, who had recently been seen chasing another woman and her dog while yelling, “Let’s see some action here.” !’ according to common sense.
“So it sounds like this person was pushed out of an unimaginable number of systems,” said one participant, adding that the man was probably “neurodiverging.”
Another person – a white woman named Sky – agreed to discuss the definition of crime.
“Crime is an abstract term that in many ways means nothing,” she said. “The construction of crime is so socially constructed to target black and poor people.”