Violence in urban and Black communities over looked for white-on-white crime

NAYABA ARINDE Amsterdam News Editor | 8/2/2012, 12:36 p.m.
"It is straight arrogance of the Police Department to say that they are the only...
Violence in urban and Black communities over looked for white-on-white crime

Traditionally, Smith said, "political decisions" have determined where programs and funds are allocated. "But given the severity of the problem, I have put out a public call asking the commissioner and mayor to declare a state of emergency and hold a meeting with political leadership, community leadership and clergy leadership, where we can discuss and decide a standard practice, where everyone is working on the same page."

Smith itemized a five-point plan: "Stricter gun laws--a mandatory five or 10 years for possession; programs for young people and their families--it has to be a combination; enhancing Operation SNUG and Ceasefire since they have proved to be so successful; a statewide push to bring national attention to the issue of guns coming into New York from places like Pennsylvania and Connecticut and we must get the clergy involved in keeping the peace."

Across the murky Hudson, Newark, N.J., has a murder rate ranking high on the national table. On Aug. 1, the Newark Anti-Violence Coalition (NAVC) continued its longest-running anti-violence demonstration in the country at the intersection of Schley Street and Chancellor Avenue, a location where several young people were shot and killed.

Organizer Bashir Akinyele said, "The demonstration marked the 158th straight week the NAVC has been organizing anti-violence and anti-genocide rallies in the city of Newark to call for more jobs for Newark residents, challenge street organizations [gangs] to find peaceful solutions to their conflicts, an end to police brutality and demand Mayor Cory Booker to declare violence a public health emergency."

Booker did not respond to an AmNews inquiry for comment by press time, neither did Kelly nor the NYPD.

Concerned about the growing pandemic of violence plaguing Black and Brown neighborhoods, Akinyele stated that since 2009, NAVC has grown into a broad coalition of activists, teachers, "revolutionary members" of the Bloods and Crips, social workers, progressives, members of churches and masjids, community-based organizations, victims of violence and concerned citizens of the community.

NAVC has declared that it has five demands that, if implemented, could help solve the problem of violence in the community. "One: the removal of Newark Police Director Garry McCarthy and the restoration of the position of chief of police; two: Mayor Cory Booker, as the chief executive officer of the city, to call a mass meeting with grassroots community-based organizations, law enforcement, social services providers for the city of Newark, the UMDNJ [Violence Institute], Newark's business community and clergy to declare violence as a public health issue; three: secure and create employment opportunities for Newarkers; four: support the implementation and enforcement of the Amistad Bill that will teach particularly African-Americans and Latin Americans the knowledge of themselves; and five: calling all street organizations to lay down their guns and adopt nonviolent conflict resolution strategies."

Akinyele proclaimed that the NAVC has been leading anti-violence civil disobedience demonstrations all over Newark's major and minor intersections for 150 straight weeks. The strategy is simple, Akinyele stated: "Inconvenience the city by bringing traffic and business activity to a halt, challenge Mayor Cory Booker, the city elected officials and the community to address to pandemic disease of violence and genocide in the city's African-American and Latino American communities in Newark and throughout America."

In Brooklyn, Adams said, "The mayor has said that New York is the safest city in the country, not acknowledging the various anti-violence groups, taking all the credit, saying that they did it all by themselves. And so now, with these recent 70-plus shootings, they--the mayor and the NYPD--must take the blame."

Adams said that since the NYPD gets one of the biggest city budgets, "hundreds of millions of dollars to the job, they are the primary agency over public safety."

Meanwhile, he said, organizations like the Brooklyn Blizzards, Man Up!, Ceasefire East New York--Operation SNUG and SOS "have been successful in stopping the violence, yet the city and state defund them and do not give them the monies and resources to continue their important work."

Asked why he thought the state and city would cut or not continue adequately funding groups such as Operation SNUG, Adams replied, "Ah, that is the $64,000 question people should ask. 'Why are you defunding successful, on-the-ground organizations?' All you can do is hypothesize. You have to ask the police commissioner and the mayor about the defunding of these successful groups that have consistently helped lower crimes in the inner city."