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Less bullets, more books

Nayaba Arinde | 4/12/2011, 5:27 p.m.

A team of dedicated "violence interrupters" will be walking through the streets of East New York on New Year's Eve handing out books to local youth declaring, "Less bullets, more books."

The group, Operation SNUG/Ceasefire East New York Brooklyn, is taking their mission to stop the violence and embrace the youth to another level. Their nightly patrols through the city's toughest neighborhood will not stop even when most people are ringing in the New Year.

"It's a peace march throughout the East New York neighborhood, labeled by the media as the deadliest area on New Year's Eve, on December 31 2010," announced A.T. Mitchell, co-founder and CEO of Man Up Inc. "Ceasefire East New York Brooklyn will be leading the peace march throughout East New York at 6 p.m. from the Man Up Inc. Crime Prevention Center at 530 Sutter Avenue [between Hinsdale Street and Williams Avenue]. All people interested in participating are asked to bring influential books that build consciousness and motivate young people to feel empowered and inspired. Our goal is to build a community collation that will commit to working in 2011 all year-round to combat gun violence."

According to the latest NYPD crime statistics, released last week, two out of three victims of city homicides are Black. The CompStat figures show that in a majority Black and Brown city, 67 percent of murder victims are Black, while 25 percent are Latino. Whites make up 4 percent.

Mitchell notes that in the 'hood he patrols with Ceasefire ENY and Operation SNUG, most crime and murders occur on Saturdays. CompStat cites 89 murders. Guns were used in 62 percent of all murders.

It pains but does not surprise Mitchell that with 30 murders, East New York's 75th Precinct is the deadliest.

Noting, not gloating, Mitchell told the AmNews that while the homicide total was 476 as of last week (compared to 2009's 470), East New York went an entire month without a single shooting.

While the NYPD credits buy-and-bust operations and the infiltration of drug trafficking organizations, Mitchell determined that outreach and being in the street is the real solution.

"As of Tuesday afternoon, we have had 30 days with no shootings or killings in our target area of 40 blocks from Hinsdale Street and Sutter Avenue over to Jerome and Sutter back down to New Lots Avenue. I attribute it to our new initiative: Operation SNUG/Ceasefire East New York Brooklyn. It is the first of its kind in this neck of the woods, and it is modeled on Ceasefire Chicago, a violence prevention initiative.

"We have been trained by Ceasefire Chicago, We have undergone over 40 hours of intensive training in violence prevention. We had to pass an exam, and then we sought training from the Bed-Stuy Volunteer Ambulance Corp in CPR, first aid and disaster relief. We are now 10 certified first responders."

Trained in early September, certified in October, "we really just went on the street in November, and the minute we hit the street talking to the people, we were immediately able to reach that target population--and that is the real reason we've a seen such a drastic drop in the shootings and the killings."