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With a click of a mouse, blogger Daniel Cavanagh has become Gerritsen Beach’s most reviled citizen.
Calling him everything from a pedophile to a neighborhood instigator who actually provoked teens into committing the infamous egg bombing raids he wrote about, many attending the Gerritsen Beach Property Owners Association Wednesday made it clear they want to run Cavanagh — and his website Gerritsenbeach.net — out of the neighborhood on a rail.
“Why is a 26-year-old man going around the neighborhood on Halloween taking pictures of underage children,” Renee Cullen demanded to know at the meeting, referring to Cavanagh’s coverage of neighborhood teens’ widespread Halloween on Gerritsenbeach.net where the blogger posted both pictures of local teens armed with rocks and potatoes, and Facebook pages of the teens boasting about their misdeeds. “I feel he’s a pedophile and I’m worried about my children’s safety.”
Cullen said her 12-year-old step-son Matthew was highlighted on Cavanagh’s Halloween posting. On his Facebook page — which Cavanagh filched and put on Gerritsenbeach.net — the youngster admits to hitting “an NYPD car and others” with the arsenal of eggs, potatoes and rocks that teens were lobbing indiscriminately on Gerritsen Avenue that afternoon. A handful of people were hit with eggs, but no one was injured. A window was smashed on an MTA bus.
But Cullen’s step-son was no where near the Halloween mischief, she said. In fact, he lied in the Facebook post so he could “act like he was a big shot.”
When her step-son’s allegedly bogus boast was put on Cavanagh’s website, local residents began threatening the pre-teen, Cullen said, adding that Matthew’s now afraid to go to school.
“He wanted to be a big shot and now he’s posted all over the Internet,” Cullen explained. “My son wanted to go to Xavier High School! What happens if this gets out? [Cavanagh] ruined my son’s chances.”
Resident Anthony Pilato charged that Cavanagh “friended” area youths under false pretenses by using his website’s domain name instead of his own. Since the kids were from Gerritsen Beach, they had no problem adding Gerritsenbeach.net to their friends list. If they knew it was Cavanagh, they might not have agreed so easily.
“The way [Cavanagh] went about it is unethical, regardless of his intentions,” Pilato said, adding that the teens never realized Cavanagh would publicize their Facebook pages.
Cullen, who said she is considering taking legal action against Cavanagh and the website, said an attorney told her that posting Facebook pages of minors was illegal.
Worse, she said, is that Cavanagh’s “unscrewing” the community.
“He makes the community looks like garbage,” Cullen said. “He has all the people in the community arguing with each other and he just sits behind a computer screen and laughs at us.”
Other meeting attendees were in full agreement. Some even painted Kavanagh as an enemy of Gerritsen Beach.
“If he doesn’t like Gerritsen Beach he should move out!” cried outraged resident Joe DiSimone. “We’re sick and tired of this horses--- every day!”
George Broadhead, the president of the Gerritsen Beach Property Owners Association, said there’s nothing he or his group can do about Cavanagh and Gerritsenbeach.net.
But this isn’t the first time Association members have voiced their outrage over Cavanagh’s web musings.
He was called a neighborhood pariah last year when he reported on the illegal dumping of wood chips behind PS 277 on Gerritsen Avenue between Bijou and Channel avenues got the not-for-profit group Gerritsen Beach Cares in hot water with the city’s Parks Department. As a result, the group had to suspend several programs until the city could review all the neighborhood projects it funded.
Despite the venom spat at him at Wednesday’s meeting, Cavanagh’s says he was legally — and morally — in the right.
“I really love this community,” Cavanagh told us. “I only wanted to bring attention to the lack of police response on Halloween and show that there is a legitimate problem here. I guess I touched a nerve.”
It was more like a live wire.
A week after the posting, Cavanagh’s still being threatened in the street. As reported on the website Sheepsheadbites.com this weekend, someone threw a pumpkin at his home, damaging the aluminum siding. Some think outed Halloween tricksters are to blame.
But late-night blitz attacks on his home aren’t going to keep Cavanagh from updating his website.
“I only do this to keep people informed,” he said. “A lot of people love my site because 99 percent of my stuff is happy. One time a year I post about what happens on Halloween and everyone gets upset.”
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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