After the recent stabbing of Ever Orozco and years of prostitution, violence and other crimes, state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) is demanding changes be made to end the violence on Roosevelt Avenue.
Orozco, who was allegedly stabbed by a 22-year-old man who thought the 69-year-old blew kisses and made sexual gestures at him as the two crossed paths at 90th Street in Jackson Heights. The police are calling the case a hate crime.
“The recent incidents of deadly violence on Roosevelt Avenue in broad daylight, underscore the fact that we need a lot more than trash bins and video cameras to make Roosevelt Avenue safe,” the senator wrote in a statement.
Peralta claims that the city and state government have not shown enough commitment to safety of residents on the commercial strip underneath the rumbling No 7 train.
“Fresh paint, additional trash cans and video cameras are welcome,” Peralta said. “They are a very far cry, however, from what’s needed to eradicate the prostitution, human trafficking and other illicit enterprises and dangerous activities that have plagued Roosevelt Avenue for decades.”
One solution the senator suggested is to re-assemble the Roosevelt Avenue Task Force, a group originally convened in 1991 that drew from the Police, Fire and Buildings departments and other agencies to monitor the corridor.
“The task force was successful in closing down brothels and fighting crime,” Peralta said, though the group was disbanded in 1995.
“Anything to make the area safer is something I would be for,” Deepa Gupta, a Woodside resident who frequents the shops along Roosevelt Avenue, said. “I will say it looks a little better than I remember but when you hear about killings, it makes you think twice about walking down here at night. Especially if you’re a woman.”
In addition to the Roosevelt Avenue Task Force, Peralta urged the city to consider consolidating the corridor into one precinct.
“At present, the 115th Precinct is responsible for the north side of the avenue, the 110th for the south side,” he said. “Make one precinct responsible for both the north and south sides of Roosevelt Avenue.”
Changing the confines of one of the precincts to absorb the entire avenue would probably require a City Council vote as well as community board input.
As of yet, there is no pending decision on the matter.
“Roosevelt Avenue is referred to as the old Times Square for good reason,” Peralta said in a written statement. “Cleaning it up once and for all will require the kinds of resources and determination as were invested in purging Times Square of the sleaze that flourished there for so long.”