New Mural at Addabbo Family Health Center in Red Hook

By Christine Stoddard |

On Jan. 17, the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center unveiled a youth-led mural at its Red Hook location on Richards St. The outdoor mural was made possible with funding from the O’Connell Foundation and a partnership with Red Hook Art Project. After the clinic’s Pediatrics department hosted an art contest, young adult artists (ages 18-22) pulled from the children’s artwork to create a mural design. The muralists, identified by first name only, include: Angelly, Rosana, Jaden, Aspen, and Felix.

The Addabbo Family Health Center is a Federally Qualified Health Center, which means it serves a high-need community.

Group shot in front of the mural at the Jan. 17, 2024 unveiling.

New Williamsburg Mural highlights life after incarceration

Inside prison, the tallies marked the months spent incarcerated. Now, in Williamsburg, it represents the continued punishment seen after people are released.

On the corner of Havemayer Steet and Metropolitan Ave, onlookers can now see a large brick canvass dressed with one-half of the tallies representing time spent in prison with the other must longer side showing the more time spent “free” but are still in effect serving a life sentence. A conviction record can lead to basic rights and programs being inaccessible to you ranging from getting a job, securing a mortgage, to receiving a new education.

The mural was created by Michael “Zaki” Smith, a formerly incarcerated New Yorker. The mural was in partnership with the R/GA, a corporate design consultancy that works with major companies like CVS, Google and Samsung. The mural is meant to build support for the Clean Slate Act NY – a piece of legislation that would expunge the records and allow formerly incarcerated individuals to fully participate in society as people who have served their time.

The legislation would add an automatic seal to someone’s conviction record after 7 years for a felony and 3 years for a misdemeanor. The new legislation is estimated by Clean Slate NY to help over two million formerly incarcerated New Yorkers. Currently, New York has an application system to seal records that Legal Aid attorney Emma Goodman, who helped write the legislation, says is often too opaque to reach New Yorkers.

“I started a project at the Legal Aid Society called case closed, that helps people to apply to get the record sealed under the current sealing law. And it just isn’t working. It’s too limited. Very few people know about it, you really need a lawyer to do it. And it takes taking people literally years to get their record sealed for like an old nonviolent conviction. And it’s just kind of waste of everyone’s time,” Goodman said in an interview. “Just automatically allowing the process to happen at the state level so that people can apply for jobs and housing and you know, just move forward is really what we need to do to make it accessible and to really change all of the people’s lives that deserve it.”

While it is a criminal justice bill in nature, Zaki sees it as much more than that.

“This is a human justice bill. This is an economic justice bill. This is actually a safety bill. Restricting individuals from housing does not produce safety,” Zaki said in an interview. “It’s an opportunity to shift legacy for New York. It’s an opportunity to end the the economic promise to upstate New York by building all the prisons and opening all the prisons in upstate New York, and creating an economic boom for Upstate New York, while the city becomes the inhabitants. 80 percent of the prison population is black or Latino 75 percent of that prison population came from seven neighborhoods in New York City. This is an opportunity for New York, for the state, to really clean up and demonstrate what criminal justice looks like.”

After being released over 18 years ago, Zaki still feels the punishment from his sentence. Four years into a job, they found out about his criminal conviction and fired him. He was unable to get a life insurance policy. But his story is just a footnote in the larger tale of how New Yorkers have trouble getting life started again after release.

“This would be a great example to show that it’s not just me, it’s millions of me in the world. I want that to be clear. I’m not just an isolated story, right. But my story is not stories that are typically told. This [referring to the mural] is not going to be on the front of the Daily News or the Post. Right now if I committed another crime, oh, that would be splattered all over the place,” Zaki said.

Murals honor Notorious B.I.G.’s ‘life after death’

Jumaane Williams speaks at the dedication ceremony for the Biggie Smalls mural (Credit: Public Advocate’s office).

By Daniel Offner


The memory of Brooklyn’s own Christopher “Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace remains very much alive in Bed-Stuy.

Wallace, a.k.a. Biggie Smalls, was gunned down at the age of 24 by an unknown assailant on March 9, 1997, following a performance in Los Angeles, Calif. celebrating the upcoming release of his second and final album, “Life After Death.” His murder still remains unsolved.

Shortly after his death, the Brooklyn community came out in record numbers to honor the career of one of the greatest names in hip-hop, with a funeral procession on March 18, 1997. Thousands showed up as more than a dozen stretch limousines made the trip through downtown Brooklyn towards his childhood home, at the corner of Fulton Street and St. James Place.

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of this tragic event, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso held a press conference on March 9, to unveil two new murals located at 981 Fulton Street, paying homage to the hip-hop icon.

During the unveiling, Williams also highlighted the need for prevention against gun violence in the city.

“Biggie lost his life to gun violence,” Williams said on Twitter. “A quarter century later, we still continue the fight to end that epidemic.” According to data provided by the NYPD, the crime rate in New York has risen by 58.7 percent in February compared to the same time last year.

BP Antonio Reynoso and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams pose with muralists.

The artwork consists of two murals, one depicting Wallace as a child, and the other presenting a colorful depiction of Biggie dressed in his signature coogie sweater. The murals were painted by street artists Eli Salome-Diaz, Carlo Niece, and Benny Guerra, in less than a week in order to have them done in time for the unveiling.

Leroy McCarthy, who led the petition to officially co-name the intersection of Fulton and St. James in honor of Biggie, was also in attendance for the unveiling along with Lil Cease, a former member of the group, Junior M.A.F.I.A.

The new murals are just some of many works of art decorating the storefronts surrounding the corner where The Notorious B.I.G. once resided. Located on the corner is a profile of Biggie Smalls painted by Vincent Ballentine in 1999. There are numerous other works that can be seen along the block, including an enormous mural dubbed “Commandate Biggie,” located at the intersection with Lafayette Ave.

9/11 mural restored on 20th anniversary of attacks

A mural honoring three local residents killed in the 9/11 attacks has been given new life with a fresh coat of paint.
The faces of Marcello Matricciano, Edward Lehman and James Cartier can be seen on the wall of N&R Deli at the corner of 25th Avenue and 77th Street in East Elmhurst.
Originally painted in 2015 by nonprofit group Groundswell, a restoration process was started after funding was secured by the Queens Chamber of Commerce.
Chamber president and CEO Thomas Grech said he noticed the mural was in need of a touch-up during one of his many breakfast trips to the deli. The chamber’s headquarters is located not far away.
“One day in July, the phone started ringing when I was getting my eggs,” said Grech. “I went out to answer the phone and I looked up at this wall. For those of you who haven’t seen it lately, it was starting to peel.”
Soon after, local artists Benny Guerra and Carlo Nieva began scraping and peeling off the old paint that had been weathered and beaten over the past six years.
“We tried to save as much of the original paint as possible,” said Guerra. “By the time we peeled all of it off, about 60 percent of the mural needed attention.”
The artists referenced photographs taken from the mural’s original dedication, applying a coat of primer and color-matching the old and new paint.
The 16-by-40-foot mural will soon be given another clear coat to extend its life even further.
“My favorite part is the integration of the old World Trade Center towers with the Freedom Tower,” said Nieva. “They are patriots.”
Deputy Chief Kevin Williams of the NYPD extended his thoughts to the families of the 9/11 victims who were in attendance for the rededication of the mural.
“I think this is symbolic of the American spirit and the New York spirit,” said Williams. “Over the years, this mural may have been battered and worn, but same thing as that day. We came back, made it stronger, and made our country better.”
John Cartier, the brother of one of the victims honored in the mural, expressed his gratitude for all those involved in restoring the mural. He remembers his brother, who died at 26 years old, as full of life and always having something funny to say.
“I think it’s important as family members to recognize all of you who have carried us through a time of darkness,” said Cartier. “All of you in this neighborhood were the light. You guys gave us hope to continue forward.”

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