By early June, there had been 538 shootings documented by the New York Police Department versus 492 shootings over the same period of time in 2007.
NEW YORK (FinalCall.com) - Pressure continues to mount in New York over a recent spike in gun violence. There have been marches, vigils, town hall meetings and press conferences—but people say they want action, not talk.
The December 12th Movement, 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care and the Fruit of Islam from Muhammad Mosque No. 7, in conjunction with the Millions More Movement, have stepped forward to build a coalition and a sustainable on-the-streets mobilization to stem the recent violence in city neighborhoods. “We have an obligation as neighbors, as families, as friends to support one another and create an environment that allows our children to grow up safe and secure,” Marq Claxton, spokesman for 100 Blacks told reporters.
By early June, there had been 538 shootings documented by the New York Police Department versus 492 shootings over the same period of time in 2007. Two-hundred people had died from these shootings as of June 1, compared with 190 deaths the same time last year, according to police department data.
The death of Brandon Bethea, a 14-year-old Queens girl killed May 18 in the Redfern Homes in a gun crossfire, ignited the call for a mobilization to combat violence. “We had come to console the family and the community at the young sister’s wake, but somewhere along the way people began to respond back by saying they wanted security, they wanted their children to feel safe,” Nation of Islam student minister Kevin Muhammad told The Final Call. “During the end of my remarks, I was moved to answer the rallying call by asking if there were men present who would join us in the spirit of the Million Man March and the instructions from the Hon. Min. Louis Farrakhan to get into the community with the people. Fifty men from the community signed on that night to be a part of taking back their community.”
The next night the F.O.I., the Dec. 12th Movement, 100 Blacks, a Bikers club and members of a SUV club held a rally in Redfern Homes. “There has been and still exists a political, economic and social assault against Black people that has caused a destabilization of our communities,” said Omowale Clay of the December 12 Movement. It is important to belong to something and our youth are often times responding to social needs, he said. “We have to think deeper around the question of the root cause of street violence. We need to see this as a national issue in the struggle for urban land,” Mr. Clay stressed.
None of the city’s five boroughs have been able to escape the increase in gun violence. Staten Island has the smallest population, but has seen a 20 percent rise in shootings and a 33 percent rise in murders. A 17-year-old high school honor student lies in a medically induced coma after a bullet tore through her neck May 29 while she stood in the vestibule of her Staten Island home. A 16-year-old turned himself in as police officials continue to search for others in that shooting.
The police department placed a “spy tower” in the community where the shooting happened and stepped up its street presence. Community Affairs officers distributed flyers explaining the police department’s Cash for Guns Program.
Over Memorial Day weekend, 10 people were shot in Harlem. “The recent shootings are evidence of the apparent ease which teens are able to acquire illegal guns and to use them without regard to the consequences,” stated Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, in a press release.
“Guns are flowing like water and it’s a river here,” Jackie Rowe-Adams, co-founder of Harlem Mothers SAVE told reporters. The ATF reported 4,043 illegal guns were confiscated from New York City streets in 2007—almost 300 were taken from suspects younger than 17 and just over 800 guns were taken from youth ages of 18-21.
Ms. Rowe-Adams called for more summer jobs for Harlem’s youth as Mayor Michael Bloomberg called for a multi-million-dollar reduction in the Summer Youth Employment Program.
Anthony Miranda, president of the National Latino Police Association believes people need to be careful when it comes to asking for more police protection. “When the police come to the Black community, they come to write summonses and make arrests, not to protect. The police department must understand that their presence needs to be preventive not reactive,’ Mr. Miranda said.
Mr. Muhammad was invited May 30 to address a gathering of concerned elected officials at the Harlem State Office Building. The audience included Rep. Charles Rangel as well as high-ranking police brass. The New York representative of Min. Farrakhan offered a three-prong attack against the violence: Prevention, intervention and then suppression of violence. Mr. Muhammad told police department reps that officers need to understand distrust amongst the youth has developed because of the constant use of suppression and urged elected officials to reopen community centers. “We need sustainable outreach. I know that is a slow process, but it is a sure process,” stated Mr. Muhammad.
Min. Muhammad told The Final Call Manhood Training Patrols would begin in coming weeks. “We are merely responding to Min. Farrakhan, when he said go back into the projects where your people are,” he said.
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