Do Greenpoint’s Hipsters Have a Heroin Problem?

05/04/2011 1:06 PM |


Drug arrests in Greenpoint and North Williamsburg have gone up by a third compared to last year, the New York Post reports; police have made 51 collars, mostly for possession of marijuana and heroin. (A big heroin bust was also made recently in Windsor Terrace-South Slope.) Because hipsters be in these North Brooklyn neighborhoods, the tabloid attributes the modest spike to the community’s population of young Cool Kids. “Brooklyn hipsters are apparently partying a little too hard these days,” the article’s authors write; the editors include a photograph of hiply dressed youngs checking smart phones as evidence of the raging drug problem. But is that what’s really going on in Greenpoint?

Actual drug usage doesn’t appear to have increased, according to anecdotal evidence. Greenpoint is “no different drugwise than it was three years ago,” one resident told the Post. “There seems to be a police crackdown because this is turning into a different kind of area—wealthier people are moving in.” (And, as seen recently in Bed Stuy, the more money people have, the more police presence they like to see.)

The sentiment was echoed by a commenter on District Leader Lincoln Restler’s Facebook wall. “I don’t think there’s any more drug use around here, I think it’s just that people are getting more upset about it,” she wrote. “It’s a result of a combination of changes that make old timers feel pushed out and newcomers feel uncomfortable.” (“I used to see people smoking weed on the street!” she added. “That I haven’t seen in a while.”)

It seems that the increase in arrests is simply the result of more police attention, which stems from community pressure to address problem areas—and I don’t mean where hipsters hang out.

“The uptick in arrests is a direct result our neighborhood organizing together to collaborate with our police precinct to address serious quality of life issues at the three-quarter house on Manhattan Avenue and other neighborhood trouble spots,” Restler, who has been working on the issue for months with residents and the 94th Precinct, told me in an email. “This is not about hipsters getting high.”

Yeah, but try telling that to the Post.


6 Comment

  • Not to give the Post too much credit, but the photo was illustrating the increased number of bars, not specifically the drug use.

  • Henry, I wish to draw attention to your “commenter” who observes “I used to see people smoking weed on the street!…That I haven’t seen in a while.” Really? I’m amazed. Come to Kent Avenue whenever there is a riverside concert, and watch kids spark on the street in front of police officers, and tell me if one still doesn’t see it. This is nonsense. The idea that “suddenly residents are complaining” is either pandering to gentrification or incredible ignorance as to community attitudes for the past 50 years or so. I’m getting the impression that there isn’t a quality of life violation or straight crime that happens within gentrification where the L Magazine can’t find some anonymous amorphous community resident who will attribute to the “savage before” of gentrification. Two weekends ago, there were altercations outside my door–is it okay that hipsters fight and carry on and gasp, spark joints in the street, as long as the L Magazine finds someone who’ll say, “oh, hipsters don’t fight, 20 years ago, Puerto Ricans fought, oh, hipsters don’t do drugs, 25 years ago, Poles did drugs, oh, hipsters don’t litter, 70 years ago, Lithuanian Jews litter”? Please.

  • And as to “It seems that the increase in arrests is simply the result of more police attention”–where from and why for that “police attention”? I usually commend your reporting. This time, you’ve oversimplified a complex issue and threw in some bromides so people would avoid graduating correlation between hipsters and drugs into causation.

  • Here is a link to the recent Community Board #1 hearing on riverside concerts and the moratorium on liquor licenses in Williamsburg. Check out the testimony and video provided DURING the hearing on flagrant and public drug use in the vicinity of police officers RIGHT NOW. This may put some perspective on the “anonymous resident” who claims, in another reference to the “savage before of Williamsburg”, that they have not seen someone sparking joints outside in years:…

  • Dennis, read this, a quite excellent article:…

    quote: “New York has made more marijuana arrests under Bloomberg than any mayor in New York history,” said Dr. Harry Levine, a sociology professor at Queens College and the nation’s leading expert on marijuana arrests. “Bloomberg’s police have arrested more people for marijuana than Mayors Koch, Dinkins, and Giuliani combined.”

  • Thank you for that, gjk. Indeed, it was an excellent article.