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Kids Demand Respect in the Streets of Brooklyn

Mural_Rendering.jpg
A rendering of a mural proposed for Butler St. and Third Ave., one block from the Brooklyn intersection where a 4-year-old boy was killed by the driver of a Hummer in February.

"A lot of drivers are driving recklessly and not seeing people as people," said 18-year-old Mike. He was one of a group of young people who unveiled the design for a memorial mural dedicated to children killed by cars on Third and Fourth avenues in Brooklyn yesterday at the offices of Groundswell, a community mural-making organization.

The mural's design (above), which has yet to be finalized, shows a smiling little boy modeled on four-year-old James Rice, who lost his life when struck by a Hummer in February. James was crossing with the light in the crosswalk at Third Ave. and Baltic St. with his aunt. The driver received only a ticket for failure to yield.

The finished mural, whose location is still to be determined, will likely include images of Juan Estrada and Victor Flores, who were killed by a truck at Third Ave. and Ninth St. in 2004. At the end of August, the unveiling of the mural will coincide with an
on-street, community-based traffic-calming installation designed by the
youth group in collaboration with Visual Resistance.


Takeria Cummings describes the mural at the Groundswell offices yesterday.

The group will also release a sticker designed by the teenagers in collaboration with artists from Groundswell and representatives of Transportation Alternatives. Based on a West African symbol, it shows cars, bikes and pedestrians on the street together, with the word "Respect." People will be encouraged to sign a pledge to use streets responsibly, then given stickers to put on their backpacks, bikes and cars.

Several of the kids working on the project said that participation in the seven-week project, part of the city's summer youth employment program, had radically changed their awareness of street safety. "I never knew kids were being killed by Hummers," said Mike. "There's never enough coverage of this kind of thing on the news."

Eighteen-year-old Takeria Cummings agreed, and said she hoped the project would raise awareness. "Drivers don't see where they're going," she said. "A lot of kids are getting killed. We need to live together peacefully."

Photos above: Aaron Naparstek. More photos from M>K>F here on Flickr.

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