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After bloody weekend, officials launch network to combat gun violence

Khorri Atkinson | 7/3/2014, 11:59 a.m.

In a recent series of shootings, at least four people were killed while another 19 were injured, including a 10-year-old boy who was innocently walking to a bodega in Coney Island to get something to drink, when a gunman opened fire. The boy was shot in the leg, while another man was shot in his torso.  

The series of shootings over the weekend happened in all five boroughs, with the most occurring in Brooklyn. Eleven people got hurt in seven separate shootings, authorities say. Five people were shot in Manhattan and the Bronx, and there was one shooting each in Queens and Staten Island.

Marking the end of June’s Gun Violence Awareness Month last Monday, Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams, deputy leader and co-chair of City Council’s Task Force to Combat Gun Violence, launched a national campaign, the National Network to Combat Gun Violence, with elected city officials from across the country in an effort to combat the gun violence epidemic at the local level.

“To effectively combat gun violence, our entire nation must approach this epidemic at the local, grassroots level. It has been my priority to make my district and this city a safer place for all children to learn and grow,” said Williams. “It is essential for us to once again take a stand. Unfortunately, gun violence threatens this goal by snuffing out the lives of too many of our youth. I look forward to sharing information with my colleagues from across the country, because shootings are far too prevalent.”

Founding members of the collaborative network includes legislators from more than 20 cities, including Chicago, Boston, Denver, and Philadelphia.

Also at the launch was actor and philanthropist Malik Yoba, who was a victim of gun violence when he was 15 years old. While walking home from school, he was shot and “left for dead” in Midtown Manhattan. Since then, the 46-year-old Yoba said he has dedicated his life to “making the lives of other people better and helping youths to access their inner creative selves.”

Some of the goals of the network, which was endorsed by the New York City Council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus, are to convene periodic conference calls where members from across the country can hear about the challenges and successes in various cities, observe presentations from anti-gun violence policy experts and advocates and suggest new, innovative approaches being undertaken in cities across the country.

Officials were joined by local grassroots anti-gun violence activists, who laud the establishment of the network. In a statement, Harlem Mothers SAVE founder Jackie Rowe-Adams urged that it’s now time for “communities to step up and police our own kids.”

“Enough is enough. I hold the families and parents responsible for our children. Stop putting the blame on the Police Department and City Council members. We need the community’s support and know who is bringing these weapons into the community and into the hands of our children. We don’t need any stop-and-frisk in the street; parents need to stop-and-frisk your kids at the door.”