East New York celebrates a gunshot-free year

Nayaba Arinde | 7/29/2013, 10:56 a.m. | Updated on 7/29/2013, 10:56 a.m.
An elated crowd released 363 green, orange and white balloons into the sky above East New York’s Van Siclen Avenue ...
Gail Hilton and James Hilton pose with the Man Up! founder and CEO Andre T. Mitchell and Councilman Charles Barron and Assembly member Inez Barron. Their son, 23-year-old James Hilton, was shot and killed a year ago. Gail is holding her late son's daughter, Jashaii Hilton, who proudly told the AmNews that she is 2 years old. Nosayaba Odesanya

Mitchell acknowledges that Man Up mediation and resolution tactics are what have tempered the violence in the targeted catchment area. Bringing a positive attitude to an environment of high unemployment and complex housing and education issues has created a different atmosphere.

The local men and women who patrol the neighborhood greet residents and each other with “Hotep,” the African word for peace. The beauty is to hear the young people say it too, automatically, without prompting.

It speaks to the positive and thorough influence Man Up has had and continues to have on the people it comes in contact with; and if you count the summer camps and after-school programs, that is a lot of people. Servicing around 20,000 people, their anti-gun violence and conflict resolution initiatives go alongside their housing and employment programs.

Man Up has been historically financed by Barron and some other City Council, state and federal funds.

Before he counted down the release of the balloons into the beautiful blue sky on Sunday, Mitchell addressed the proud East New Yorkers and praised their commitment to keeping their neighborhood free of violence.

“Our violence interrupters have done an amazing job working with the community to keep us safe and diffusing potentially violent situations.” Mitchell told the AmNews. ”We appreciate the work they have done and how our residents have worked together in order to make this celebration possible.”