pinsAt Roll Call Sergeant Capp advised us that there was a street carnival setting up on Grove Street All the buildings on both sides of Groves Street had burned and been torn down. So it was pretty easy for the carnival people to get the permit to close the street. I guess some idiot in City Hall thought it would be a good idea for the carnival. We thought it would be a fiasco.

We remembered when a fast food place opened a restaurant on Broadway. They brought in a clown. When they ran out of  free stuff the crowd went crazy. We were able to bring things under control without too much trouble although they did try to lynch the clown. When we pulled him away from the crowd and got the noose off him. He was sitting in our car crying.

He said, “Who wants to hang a clown?”

I felt sorry for him so I didn’t say anything, but I couldn’t blame the crowd. I have always hated clowns.

It was a beautiful day so the crowds really came out for the carnival.  As we drove past we could see small rides being set up. There were several trailers there with the sides opened to expose the games. Most “games of chance” at these carnivals are rigged. The only real chance you have of winning is if they let you win to attract more suckers.

One had a small side show. They had a South American Capybara which they were advertising as “The World’s Largest Rat.” They also had a pony ride set up. We were surprised it was going so well. The crowds were heavy but everyone was in a good mood. I hoped it stayed that way. But this was Bushwick so of course that wasn’t going to happen.

We kept rolling by between jobs just to check it out. There were ten Auxiliary Police assigned to the carnival. They were standing in groups, five on Wilson and five on Central. If trouble broke out they would be worse than  useless. A car would have to cover each group until we could get them out of there so they would not get hurt. It would be bad P.R. for the city if the auxiliaries got hurt. That would take two cars away from the trouble.

It went pretty well until the afternoon. We made a drive by around two. Things had changed. Looking around we saw that the crowds were drinking heavily and we knew that this was not going to end well.

Harry shook his head, “It looks like the shit will be hitting the fan soon. We better get ready.”

We went to the station house and spoke to the Lt. Johnson.

“Loo, the crowd is drunk and it’s starting to get ugly on Grove St.”

“When you go back tell the Auxiliaries to get back here on the double if trouble starts.”

“OK, Loo.”

We stopped by both groups of Auxiliaries. We told them that the driver was to stay in their car the other four were to stand by it. As soon as trouble started they were to get in the car and report it to the Desk Officer in person. We resumed patrol. All the available cars in the precinct were orbiting within two or three blocks of the carnival.

Sure as hell there was soon an argument over one of the games. It had a ball on a chain and all you had to do was swing the ball and knock three duck pins off the counter.

The player was yelling that it was fixed. Which I have no doubt it was. As I said before anyone who thinks they can really win one of those games without the operator letting him win is either very  naive or just plain stupid. Very few of those living within the confines of the Eight-three precinct were naïve but a great many were stupid.

From there it grew into a full scale riot. All they needed was half an excuse to loot. The Auxiliaries called it in as they left the scene. Every available car in the precinct responded. We were there in less than a minute but still several trailers were on fire as we pulled up. The FD was called. We got there too late to see who started the fires. The owner of the carnival was very uncooperative. He would give no information about who started the fires.

I told him, “Look you must have seen something.”

He just shook his head, “We should move away from that trailer. It’s burning really bad.”

“It’s not that bad we’re far enough away.”

“No, It’s loaded with propane tanks.”

“Did you tell the firemen that?”


We notified the FD and they concentrated on that one to avoid an explosion.

We had rounded up most of the looters when the owner came over to us.

“I don’t want to press any charges. I don’t want to get involved.”

Sgt. Cap told him, “They are stealing everything that is not nailed down. I think you are already involved. We have been arresting them.”
“They are not stealing any property. They have my permission to take it.”

Sgt. Capp said, “Are you saying you are giving it to them?”


Several of us wrote what he said down in our memo books and had him sign verifying that he gave the property away. It was frustrating for us to stand by and watch them take everything they could carry. We kept them from burning any more trailers and stopped fights but that was about all we could do.

We were standing there when. A teenager who worked for the carnival came to running to us crying.

“They’re trying to cook the pony.”

We followed him behind one of the trailers. The pony had been tied up and four teenagers were trying to drag it into a large fire.

We laid into them with our sticks. We kicked their asses and told them they were lucky because if we had gotten there too late and the pony was in the fire they would have gone in after it. When they were gone the pony was untied and a couple of cops followed the kid to the station house with the pony.

Someone also stole the capybara. We never did find out what happened to it but we were leery of running into it in a basement. They are harmless but I know if I suddenly came upon it in a dark basement there would be shots fired.

No arrests for looting were made that day and it all actually ended pretty peacefully. Most of the trailers were destroyed either by fire of just being smashed and looted.

The day after the carnival was pretty quiet we drove by and they were packing up the pieces. At least getting everything that wasn’t destroyed the day before. It was a shame because we could have saved most of the stuff if that asshole hadn’t said he was giving them permission.

About a month later an insurance investigator came to the precinct. He was asking why the police let the crowds steal everything. We told him what the owner of the carnival had told us about giving it away. He then told us that the owners story to the insurance company was that he begged us to save his property but was told we didn’t want to start a riot. When we told him that the owner had signed our memo books stating he was giving the property away and wanted no arrests made the investigator got a huge smile on his face.

We told him that the owner had signed the books of at least ten cops and two Sergeants. The carnival owner called the C.O. the next day. He said his insurance company would not pay off because he had given the property away. He wanted to make a complaint against us saying that he had never given permission for us to show his signature to the insurance company and he was now going to go bankrupt. He stated he might sue. The C.O. had the Integrity Sergeant call him back. The Sergeant, Arty Hines told him go ahead and sue because the we did nothing wrong and that all the information regarding the whole affair was being sent to the Brooklyn D.A.’s Office to see if they wanted to charge him with insurance fraud. We never heard another word about it


Posted October 21, 2013 by kevingcox in Random Thoughts

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  1. Pingback: THE GROVE STREET CARNIVAL | bushwick83

  2. Great one!!!!!!!

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