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Violence Creates a Summer State of Emergency

7/3/2014, 10:57 a.m.
(Left to right) Marie Delus, Morlon Peterson, Chris Foye, Shanduke McPhatter. and Derick Lahf -- Closing out June’s Gun Awareness Month activities Chris Foye of the Chris S. Owens Foundation hosts a panel and a day of youth-oriented events at Brooklyn’s Herbert Von King Part. Photo by Lem Peterkin

Last weekend, the city saw its first outbreak of shootings. Reports indicate that at least 20 people were shot, with four losing their lives. The youngest victims included two boys ages 10 and 12.

This time last year, 554 people had been shot. There has been a rise in shootings this year, with 611 people being the victims of gun violence. While the NYPD claims homicides are down by 11 percent this year, the community wants action on the high rates of shootings.

“We need to declare a state of emergency on violence,” said Terryl Ebony, founder and executive director of Misunderstood Youth Development Center. “Focus to combat this issue must be placed on the homes and the schools. We must tackle this issue from the ground up. We cannot wait any longer. We need to recognize that this problem is falling into the hands of our youth at younger and younger ages. Parents need help.”

One place that’s considered a hot spot for violence is the 77th Precinct in Brooklyn, which covers the Crown Heights neighborhood. Between May 23 and June 29, there have been 15 shootings, with three ending in murder. All of the victims were Black, with 13 being male and two being female. Ages of the victims rage between 19 and 54.

An emergency town hall meeting was held Monday night by Community Board 8’s Public Safety Committee to address the issue and find a solution. Several elected officials attended, including City Council Member Robert Cornegy and Assemblyman Karim Camara.

“Folks are scared because this is just not normal,” said Shalawn Langhorne, public safety chairperson for Community Board 8. “We are not suppose to be living like this, and keeping our neighborhood safe is a priority.”

Langhorne added that she doesn’t believe the shootings are gang-related but rather isolated incidents with people who are carrying guns. She said the area has several resources and that the emergency meeting was to find a way to put all of those resources together.

“We are becoming more protective of our community. But we have people who are not calling the police and coming forward when something happens,” she said.

Parks in Brooklyn appear to be the areas where much of the violence is occurring, according to residents. A representative from the city’s Parks Department was on hand at the meeting to address concerns, including adequate lighting.

While not just isolated to Brooklyn, gun violence is a citywide issue. Jackie Rowe-Adams of Harlem Mothers SAVE continues with her stance that violence must first be dealt with in the home in order to prevent tragedy.

“Enough is enough. Families and communities must step up and police our own kids. We must take back our communities and ensure the safety of our children. We need the communities’ 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,” she said.