Van Nest to hold anti-crime march

What is likely a gang tag is seen here painted on Morris Park Avenue and Melville Street.

A spike of violent crime in Van Nest has prompted neighbors to say, “we’re not going to take it anymore.”

The Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance is organizing an anti-crime march in response to several recent incidents. All signs point to a gang terrorizing the neighborhood.

Members from the 49th Precinct Clergy Council and other community groups, representing Van Nest residents, will take to the streets sometime in late spring. The Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance will map out a route in the neighborhood where violent crimes recently took place.

“It’s neighborhoods supporting neighborhoods,” said Bernadette Ferraro, vice president of the Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance.

The group is responding to incidents like the attack that took place on Friday, March 16. It was at eight in the evening when a Van Nest resident and her 15 year-old son, who have asked to remain anonymous out of fear from the local gang, were punched and kicked while walking home from the bus stop near the corner of Van Nest and White Plains Road. The victims suffered several injuries at the hands of two teen girls and a boy as others watched. One of the teenage girls was hauled off to jail.

“It’s deeply upsetting that a young woman can be so aggressive” said the source, a homeowner who’s lived in the area for two years.

In February, a fatal stabbing occurred on Van Nest and Taylor avenues. The stabbing was over a text message.

“People are disgusted,” said Ferrara.

Neighbors blamed the same teens, known as the Yum Up Gang, an obscure group that’s been established in the neighborhood.

Little is known about the gang, although Ferrara said members do live in the neighborhood. Police from the 49th Precinct have been able to identity about 20 members, mostly teens and older men. The gang has tagged its symbol on various parts of the neighborhood, as a show of representation. One is located on the MTA train wall at Morris Park Avenue and Melville Street. Another symbol popped up at a vacant storefront on Van Nest Avenue and White Plains Road.

Ferrara said the target audience for the upcoming parade is the parents of gang members.

“The march is really for community awareness,’” said Ferrara. “To let parents know, ‘hey, we know it’s your kid, the people of this community don’t want it. And if you don’t want to be part of the solution, then go somewhere else.”

To reach reporter David Cruz, call 718-742-3383 or email at

Another spray-painted symbol located at vacant storefront on White Plains Road in Van Nest is pictured here.

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