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Guns 'n' roses

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

"Unfortunately for us, when the sun comes out, so do the guns," Brooklyn City Councilman Charles Barron told the paper. "We have to stop this madness, this self-destructive behavior. Our community must organize and unite so we get our youth off the street and into recreation centers and jobs. The city needs to prioritize the youth. The mayor needs to put more money into our youth than he does rich developers. He needs to build more youth centers, rather than these billion-dollar, tax-payer-funded sports stadiums. No police containment can end crime--only economic solutions, job creation and quality education."

"Engaging the youth is the only option," said New Black Panther Party Youth Minister Divine Allah. "We speak with the youth wherever we find them, whether they are coming home from school or just hanging out on the corner. You shouldn't have to call the police on every situation. You should be able to call on a father, an uncle or a brother. Black on Black violence is a serious issue, but this circular oppression--as Franz Fanon described it--needs to be addressed from top to bottom [with] religious, economic, political and social solutions, not just law enforcement." "Too many of our young people are allowed to rule our blocks," said retired detective and Queens City Council hopeful Marquez Claxton.

"They reject authority, family and community and operate as if they own the streets that they were raised on. Without the intervention of the community, these gangs will flourish and create war zones where we live. Because we ignored the early signs of gang behavior, we are now reaping what we sowed. This violence is now a pandemic that needs direct community correction. These killers are not outsiders, they are our neighbors and sadly, too often our children."

"The shootings are not isolated incidents. They reflect the gentrification of the neighborhoods and the isolation and criminalization of our young people and the lack of proper funding for alternative programs in the inner cities across the U.S.," said Shaka Shakur, chairman of the New York chapter of the New Black Panther Party and youth organizer for the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood. "We need to get into the street and engage young people and patrol our communities--not only in the event of a crime--and show our youth that we care. It is time that Black men stood up to defend and protect."

Jackie Hilly, executive director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, organized a "lie-in" last month to protest the easy access to guns, and to commemorate the second anniversary of the Virginia Tech shootings. Last month also saw the 10th anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings.

"This is why we need to enact sensible gun laws on a local and federal level," Hilly told the AmNews. "We have two pieces of legislation going forward: Micro-stamping allows police to pick up gun casings at crime scenes and trace them back to the semi-automatic they were fired from. It's like a DNA print, where each shell casing is imprinted with a number which goes back to the gun." Hilly said the Assembly has passed this legislation already.