Nayaba Arinde | 4/12/2011, 4:38 p.m.
"There is a state of emergency in the urban community," determined Andre Mitchell, founder and CEO of Man Up Inc. "The government's $800 billion stimulus package has yet to land in the inner cities. It has not trickled down. That $800 billion means nothing if the right organizations cannot benefit from that money."
Frontline anti-youth violence activists have yet to enthusiastically embrace the announcement of a $4 million stimulus package, of sorts, aimed at decreasing "illegal guns and gang violence that plague communities across the state of New York." The State Senate has announced a new initiative, Operation SNUG, that is slated to help local law enforcement and anti-violence community groups "engage innovative tactics to steer at-risk New Yorkers away from the culture of gangs and illegal guns."
According to a statement from the office of State Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, "The Senate secured $4 million in the FY2009-10 state budget for frontline anti-gun and gang violence prevention efforts that will benefit the hardest-hit communities across the state. As a result, the cities of Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, New York City and Westchester County will receive new infusions of much-needed funding that will allow for better cooperation between police and prosecutors to keep our children safe and streets secure."
"This $4 million is chump change," stated Councilman Charles Barron. "It can't really even cover a couple of blocks in our neighborhood; it is a citywide problem. If it was any other problem that was affecting white communities, they would be putting tens of millions of dollars into it, not a measly $4 million. Job creation and economic development is part of resolving the violence.
Grassroots organizations run by people like A.T. Mitchell and Erica Ford should be given the multi-million-dollar funds because they've proven they can do the work and have been doing so effectively-- now give them millions so they can continue and reach more young people and really stop the violence."
East New York activist Andre Mitchell went on: "If they allocate money in the 2009 budget, the organizations do not receive the money until 2010,maybe 2011.There is so much red tape that you have to go through that it becomes almost null and void by the time the money clears. What needs to happen is an emergency fund from the private sector and regular people who can donate whatever they can."
"The $4 million from the Senate is a wonderful initiative," began Erica Ford, founder and CEO of LIFE Camp Inc., "but Governor Paterson and Senator Malcolm Smith must also identify alternative funds to supplement monies for street workers to diffuse conflicts."
Ford said that with only $500,000 designated to each targeted "high crime" area, "these companies who do business in our communities have to reinvest in these communities to lower the crime rate. Corporations like WalMart, Sunoco, Pepsi and Dunkin Donuts should supplement the money because the government funds take so long to come down the pipeline."
In the interim, Ford suggested, "They should not give any of this money to the big companies, like Boys and Girls and the Catholic Charities, who do not serve these particular children. Give to the community-based organizations who don't have the money, but have been doing the work. When someone gets killed, the family doesn't call the Boys and Girls Club. They call us," said the creator of the I Love My Life campaign and the Bury Da Beef tour.