Hands Up, But They Still Shoot

The Bushwick Bridge


It is said that the NYC police department will be issuing a budget to get body cameras in which police officers will be required to record when interacting with civilians. We live in a country where the Eric Garner murder was recorded, the coroner declared it a homicide, and still No Justice. Mike Brown had his hands up and Darren Wilson still shot the innocent teenager and Trayvon Martin yelled for his life as Zimmerman gunned him down. Along with many other black and brown lives taken inhumanely. Yet America has labeled us the animals.

To say there is a problem within our policing system would be an understatement. It is corrupt from the bottom up and has always been rooted by a white supremacist system. Black and brown people have a civil right to be treated with equality. People of color should not feel threatened by police presence as…

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Human Geographies of Bushwick, continued…

by Chiara Valli

Our two latest interviews are with Steve and Rosa. Steve moved to Bushwick eight years ago; Rosa was born here. They both have struggled with ´making Bushwick better´, but from very different perspectives.

You can read the original installment here.


STEVE, male, 40 y.o., white, from Michigan, café owner

I moved here 8 years ago from Michigan, I worked in a restaurant back there and I came here hoping to open a small café.

What’s cool here in Bushwick is that all the new businesses coming out we all know each other, we have all met each other over the years so whenever anybody starts a business we are all pretty supportive of such things. The people here are really great. You tend to move here for a purpose: you have school or you want to do something artistic, and there is a great community for that, a lot of young folk, it’s getting younger and younger to me. And everyone I meet is so interesting and they are all from all over the place, so it’s a cool melting pot within the giant melting pot.

When I moved here I liked the idea to start something fresh, doing something that hasn’t been done for 20-30 years… really there wasn’t a coffee shop, there were bodega coffee, corner store coffee, but there was no coffee shop, so we were like “let’s just open a coffee shop, let’s do this”, I remember sitting down and say “we need a good restaurant, we need coffee shop, a nice bookstore”, and now, seven years later, these things are tripled, you know in the last six months six coffee shops opened up, I was the only one for a long time, and now there is a bunch of them, but they are all spread out, and we all get along and I know most of them too. I just like the idea of making things nicer, it used to be pretty scary around here, I wouldn’t hang out on Knickerbocker or I wouldn’t travel much towards the bigger part of Bushwick, you know we are in the north corner of Bushwick, Bushwick is bigger. But now it feels a lot safer, cleaner, the people who moved here found that people who lived here were amazing, so much culture. Unfortunately now there are higher rents, risks of being kicked out, greedy landlords… it’s really sad. Is that progress? I don’t know. It sure seems to be much nicer than before.

Honestly I love to eat brunch, that’s my thing. I sleep late and then I like to eat brunch and there wasn’t a place here for that. I wanted to do it; this neighborhood didn’t have that at the time. So I did it out of necessity I guess. There wasn’t a place to get good coffee, and we did that.

Am I a jerk for living here? Am I jerk for people moving because the rent went up? Am I a jerk for opening a coffee shop because it’s nicer than it was before, I mean, am I a jerk? I don’t know. I don’t think so. Am I opportunistic or do I just want to make things better? People here wanted some things. I mean, I could barely get lunch here three years ago, that’s why I opened my second café, so there was a place to get a good lunch. Now there are lots of places.

The topic of gentrification is sticky; it’s hard to talk about. And I think it’s always been this way in New York, you know before there were the Dutch, and then the Italians, then Germans, and now it’s like Hispanic and Black, and now it’s “whitey”. Things are always changing. You know the history of Bushwick, there was the fire and it was desolated and scary, so if people want to make it better, it’s cool, right?


ROSA, female, 26 y.o., Dominican background, Bushwick native, student and employed in a NGO

What I struggle with is that when people talk about new people coming in and when they say it in a positive light it’s almost like as they are ‘cleaning it up’. Meanwhile it’s always been pretty good. Where I lived people worked hard to make their neighborhood great, and they did it. It wasn’t safe in certain areas, but wherever we called it ‘home’ we made a home out of it. So when I got to my block I always felt safe. People always watched out for each other, we always watched out for the kids, I offered tutoring the kids, as I got older I helped. We don’t live there anymore because we couldn’t afford it but, but if you go there during Christmas time all the houses were competing with each other to make the best Christmas decorations, during Halloween people would compete to each other to make the best Halloween decorations… those are the kind of things that make a community. When people want to make it prettier, they want to make it more fun.

And it makes me really angry when people say that the people who lived previously in now gentrified areas didn’t care about where they lived. If they didn’t care about where they lived, would they be living like animals? No. If you come on a morning on a Saturday or a Sunday you will see people sweeping the streets, it’s because they are taking care of their stuff. If you see their plants hanging up against the windows it’s because they are taking care of their stuff. If you live in a place you are not going to leave it go to shit, right? But if you don’t have the means to pay for remodel, you are not going to do it.

A lot of people have like ‘made Bushwick precious´ and fetishized it, and think of it as something really nice. This is just people’s home, this is fucking home, this is what it is. It’s not an art project. All of the people who have been moving in – I would love people moving here and stay here for a long period of time, so we could invest in the people who moved here. But if this is just a place for you to be while you are in graduate school, if you are just a transient audience and you don’t invest yourself in this community, then why the hell people are going to give you a chance to talk to you? While at the same time, let’s complicate that. If you were in a community that were more open to people, who would give this community more exposure in a meaningful way through research, through art, maybe people would try to make that gentrification more compassionate. I think in both parts there is an issue. It’s the distrust.


Meet Rudy Dejesus, Up-and-Coming Fashion Designer from Bushwick

by Kassandra Steward


Rudy Dejesus is a 21-year-old man who grew up in Bushwick. Starting his own clothing line called Intellect Clothing at the age of 19, this young go getter has set standards for the average teen. After starring in an Atlantic City fashion show, I thought this would be the perfect time for him to get the exposure he deserves. Not only is fashion his passion, but when he’s not designing he makes music so his love for the arts is clearly shown. Check out this interview with the ambitious Rudy Dejesus.

Tell me a little about yourself. Where are you from? What’s your educational background? What are your general professional and non-professional interests?

I was born in the Bronx, raised in Bushwick. I graduated from Bushwick High school Academy of Urban Planning. I did some college at Kingsborough Community College and my major was fashion design and then I changed it to fashion merchandising to understand more of the business aspect of fashion designing. As a nonprofessional interest I like to skateboard.

Any plans on going back to school?

It’s all inevitable. Of course, if my business gets to where I want it to be where it can carry itself and I’m able to focus on my education while paying my bills, then absolutely. Especially now with how expensive Bushwick has become.

What does fashion mean to you?

Fashion is everything. Fashion is your costume, your emotions; Fashion is who you are and what you represent. Fashion can be something you can feel physically or emotionally. All your senses combined in one.


When did you realize you wanted to become a fashion designer?

I always wanted to be in charge. I changed what I wanted to be in life several times, but I always knew I wanted to have something of my own. So when I got into high school I started at Murry Bergtraum which was a business school and I used those skills and took them with me to Bushwick High School. And for my economics class I had to start printing shirts and that put everything into place.

Why the name Intellect Clothing?

Intellect is something that everybody has. It can be defined as creative thinking. Throughout generations anyone that’s felt cornered has found a way to be mentally satisfied. People in jail, college students only in school because their parents force them to, there’s an outlet a lot of them find whether it’s art, reading or just creative thinking in general. I just feel like everybody has intellect.

What was the first article of clothing you ever designed?

First piece of clothing was me doing a stunt on my skateboard at Knickerbocker Park. A really good friend of mine Anthony Castro took the picture and I was able to print it onto my shirt.

How do you usually decide which constructed piece you want to sell?

I usually start designing one and go into another so by the time I get to the computer I have multiple designs. So within that thought process it filters out on which one I think will sell more.


What are some of your accomplishments as a designer?

Wow. I would have to say being a man of my word. I wasn’t too educated in business and just doing my research and being committed, it all went through. I was in fashion shows. So establishing a brand is something I’ve accomplished. My designs came out on the NBC news during The Atlantic City fashion show.

Who are some of your favorite designers?

Ralph Lauren. I’m actually reading a book about him.

Where can readers buy your clothes?


How do you select your models?

Fashion shows always give me models, but I am looking for models in Bushwick. I just haven’t found people as dedicated. So for me it’s all about profession. Makeup artists in Bushwick are also something I’m looking for.

What are some of your favorite clothing stores/websites?

My favorite store would be Uniqlo. They have everything from casual to business.

What do you believe makes a quality article of clothing?

Content. Whatever you put in a product means value then drops down to comfort and how long it will last. Are you investing in the idea or the actual product?

Do you consider yourself an artist?

Definitely. I draw I skateboard, photograph, I also do music.

Do you have a favorite artist that you look up to and say wow, I want to be in his position?

Jay-Z definitely. Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs.


rudy6How do you prepare for a fashion shoot or show?

For a fashion show it’s about what you want your collection to be for the season, so I’ll do my research and figure out what’s going to be in style. For photo shoots you need your models and locations and budgeting.

Do you prefer sketching designs or actually constructing them?

My inspiration will come from anywhere. I would even add my photography into it. I also want to get into sewing a bit more.

What advice do you have for aspiring fashion designers?

Stay committed. People are always going to judge, but if you stay positive it will always come back to you.

What do you like best about designing clothes?

The idea of a blank page. I want my brand to represent motivation, striving, thinking outside the box. So if someone else sees you wearing a brand like that they will also feel inspired and so on. It’s the power of giving that’s going to be represented by my brand.

What do you dislike about designing clothes?

It’s expensive. [laughs]

How would you define your personal style?

It goes with my emotions, if I feel like I’m happy I’ll wear my best outfits.

How would you define the style your line exemplifies?

I believe my fashion line is a growth and I say that because I’m only 21 and I’m still growing.  I mean at first I started off with hoodies and t- shirts and as I learn more about the business of fashion I want to broaden my horizons.

What are some of your fashion goals?

Surpass Polo Ralph Lauren… that’s a high goal but that’s what I want. I feel like I have surprised myself with the things that I have done with being only 21 years old so I want to keep striving.


rudy8What other experience do you have in the fashion industry (stylist, retail, marketing, etc.)?

I haven’t had the opportunity to style other people who aren’t wearing my clothes. I’ve done retail at Macy’s, so it helped me with a bit of merchandising.

What are your favorite patterns [prints] to work with?

Stripes. [laughs]

Where can readers find out more about you and your work?

Check Soundcloud at rudboysick and my YouTube channel at rudboysick.

Since you live in Bushwick, I wanted your opinion on the gentrification that is happening in our community.

That’s a broad subject. I’m going to give you an example, which is Manifest Destiny, the Western expansion. So it’s more like the idea of moving forward is being enforced. Rather than change the mind of the people, they change the surroundings, and it will either motivate the people or give them the choice to give up.