Taking Back New York’s Meanest Streets, One Person at a Time

this article originally appeared on the front page of the July 25 print edition of the Epoch Times. Read the full article here.

(L-R) Shanduke McPhatter, Council member Jumaane Williams, and Suavee Edgar McPhatter walk through the streets of East Flatbush near the Glenwood Houses on July 19. (Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times)

NEW YORK—Even though he’s been in and out of the criminal justice system for almost 12 years of his life, 35-year-old Shanduke McPhatter has a positive outlook on the future, and he shares it with others.

As a former gang member of the Bloods (famous for its rivalry with the Crips), McPhatter knows from personal experience that it’s not always easy to make the right choices, especially in high-crime and low-income areas. But now he knows there are choices, and he wants to tell others.

Two years ago, the lifelong resident of Brooklyn and father of three founded the nonprofit group, Gangstas Making Astronomical Changes, to help uplift people caught up in what his group calls the “street life.”

“What triggered it (changing) was just the level of violence I kept seeing,” said McPhatter, who said he simply became fed up with spending his life in a destructive cycle. “I changed my state of mind.”

The charismatic McPhatter exuded that new state of mind—positive, engaged, hopeful, and energetic—as he walked through the public housing project called the Glenwood Houses last Friday, July 19. He was part of a group of about a dozen like-minded individuals putting a grass-roots initiative called Occupy the Corners into action.

It’s a long journey to reach Glenwood, an island of plain-faced brick apartment buildings attached in a labyrinth of footpaths at the far end of south central Brooklyn. Situated between East Flatbush and Canarsie, getting there requires a ride to the end of the Nos. 2, 4, 5, or L subway lines, followed by a 20-minute bus ride.

Read the rest of this article originally appeared on the front page of the July 25 print edition of the Epoch Times by clicking here.