Brownsville: 61 shootings, 76 victims so far in 2010
Cyril Josh Barker | 4/12/2011, 5:30 p.m.
Numerous shootings riddled the city this past weekend, but the story of gun violence is all too familiar in Brooklyn's Brownsville neighborhood.
Scarce job opportunities, lack of social programs and an ongoing feud between housing projects are in the recipe that has resulted in 61 shootings and 76 victims in this year alone, according to the NYPD. Suspects in the shootings are as young as 12 years old.
Community leader Latrice Walker has lived in Brownsville her whole life and said that in the last 28 days, there have been 14 shootings in Brownsville.
"Everyone is fighting over a limited number of resources. Many don't even existent," she said. "There are two big economic strips in Brownsville: Pitkin Avenue and Belmont Avenue. There's not much development in Brownsville, and if there is, people are not being hired for the jobs."
In terms of social programs, Walker said she can recall a time when there were after-school programs and activities for children to do, but due to budget cuts and defunct organizations, youth have few options for spending their time.
Fearing for their lives, it's to the point now where many youth don't want to cross the street for fear of being fired upon for entering "hostile territory." Walker said kids as young as 12 are being seen with as much as $500 as a reward for shooting people.
"I was talking to a young women recently who told me she was asked by another kid, 'Why did you shoot my brother?' These are kids who are in the seventh grade. Shooting is a badge of honor," Walker said.
While Crips and Bloods are notorious gangs in Brownsville, other street gangs have taken over the community as well. However, tension between housing projects has been a recent reason for gun battles in the street.
A recent incident resulting in three murders in a five-hour period occurred when bullets rang out because of a feud between Howard Houses, Sethlow Houses and Glenmore Houses. The three groups were shooting over a territorial crossing.
On July 19, while leaving a basketball court, 15-year-old Tyquan Jamison was shot and killed on Glenmore Avenue after a car full of people opened fire on him. Jamison's friend was the intended target.
Walker said that many youth turn to gang violence for basic necessities. In a recent conversation with a gang member, Walker was told that gangs offer food, clothing and shelter to those who are in need, but you pay a high price.
She said, "The solution is not just one answer. Education is a part of it, along with more social programs, social development and life skills. A lot of the kids who are doing the shootings are 12 and their parents are 22."
Losing her own brother to senseless violence, Walker said she revisits the pain whenever she hears about a child being shot. But even though she fears for her own life, she presses on with the fight.
"I'm afraid because I live in the community," she said. "I always have to think about being courageous. There's always a possibility that these statistics may be me or someone in my family. I fear for my life every time I open my mouth, but I do it anyway."