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Guns 'n' roses

Nayaba Arinde | 4/12/2011, 4:38 p.m.

Gun violence made headlines again this week.

The NYPD told the AmNews that "shootings to date are down 5.6 percent: 374 for this year compared to 396 for last year."

Those stats, though, provide little comfort to families and neighborhoods terrorized by errant gunfire. This past weekend, Corey Squire, 17, was shot in the back of the head on a Harlem Street. The murder was captured on video and was promptly sensationalized by tabloid media. A week before, 13-year-old Christopher Owens was hit in the head by a stray bullet at a Harlem barbeque. His family switched off the life support machine a couple of days later. He is being buried on Monday.

On Saturday, May 9 from 1 to 4 p.m., mothers who have lost their children to violence will lay the shoes of their children across 126th Street, from Malcolm X Blvd. to Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd., to represent the lives lost by small arms fire in the community. Organizers such as New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, Harlem Mothers SAVE (Stop Another Violent End) and Rev. Vernon Williams (Perfect Peace Ministry) are inviting all families of murdered children to attend and bring shoes labeled with the names and photos of their loved ones.

This, like Pastor Williams' impromptu march through Harlem on Tuesday afternoon, is designed to strike at the nerve of those who allow or participate in the gun violence marring the inner cities.

"We don't make these guns, dammit," stormed an incensed Assemblyman Keith Wright, empha- sizing the widespread frustration that some feel is the uncontrolled influx of illegal weapons in urban communities.

"I'm so glad that Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E. is around because we've got too many guns on our streets. We have to get to the bottom of how these guns come into our community. We, as parents and legislators, have to do better. Young people playing with guns is a result of neglect." The Harlem elected official continued, "It is an indictment on government, on the education system. And parents have to be more proactive and frisk their children before they go out." Seeing a gathering of 30-50 kids on any inner-city street corner is nothing new in the spring-to-summer run-up. Idle hands find something to do, and what with the economic crisis and cuts across the board, plus the closing of community and recreation centers, a repeat of the crowds looks pretty likely as summer looms.

"Summer jobs will be in place, "Wright assured. "There is $30 million for summer jobs citywide, but we need to do more. We need a whole change in the culture in how we handle the streets. We need to shoot off our mouths rather than our guns."

Erica Ford, co-founder of Queens-based youth organization LifeCamp Inc., said, "The nature of our society is a violent society, and we subliminally reward people who are violent. The media hypes up crime and violence and scandal. We don't get the same degree of attention for positive achievements.

"Money is put into incarceration, not sustaining positive behavior."