On Saturday, five caskets will be carried over the Brooklyn Bridge in a silent march to highlight the senseless gun violence in the inner city.
“The caskets symbolize the deaths in the inner city from gunfire,” said A.T. Mitchell, founder and CEO of Man Up Inc. and operator of Operation SNUG/CeaseFire East New York.
“In this case, we are targeting Wall Street and corporate greed-the 1 percent. We are saying they take our money as consumers. but they don’t give anything back. They don’t invest in the inner city, they don’t provide job opportunities or money for programs or services. These corporations and bankers do not reinvest in the people whose money they take every day. They don’t value the lives behind the dollars they take.
“We’re going to stop by Occupy Wall Street, but there we will be speaking to the choir. We’ll be marching all the way to Bowling Green to the bull-their symbol of greed.”
In a moving ceremony last weekend, Zurana Horton was laid to rest.
The Rev. Al Sharpton delivered the eulogy for “the heroic mother of 12 who was sprayed by bullets as she protected her children from being shot by gang members.”
“People are making profit off of our self-destruction,” boomed Sharpton. “I don’t care how bad it is-there’s no excuse for us to be killing each other.”
In a culture that prizes gangsters over hardworking, everyday people, the president of the National Action Network added, “It is a wicked thing to make our children feel that they are worthless unless they can bang bang shoot-’em-up.”
The funeral, the wake and the repast for Horton were held on Saturday, Oct. 29 at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Bed-Stuy.
As Horton’s 12 children sat in the center of the front two pews, friends and family members came to pay their respects to grandparents Keith and Denise Peace Horton and other mourners.
Sharpton expressed disgust at the fact that Horton’s home was ransacked after her murder and at last week’s news that eight NYPD officers were charged with gun running in addition to the 16 cops who were indicted in a ticket-fixing scam. Of the 300 cops who came out to support them to “demand they had a right to do it,” Sharpton said, “We are under siege by the cops and the robbers.”
While Police Commissioner Ray Kelly came through, sitting in the pews were Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, State Sen. John L. Sampson, City Comptroller John Liu, Assembly members Inez Barron and Thomas Boyland and Council members Charles Barron, Jumaane D. Williams and Darlene Mealy.
Clergy members on the dais included the Revs. Herbert Daughtry, Dr. Lawrence Acker and Stephanie Bethea and Min. Kirsten Foy, who presided over the service.
Russell Simmons bought outfits for Horton’s children, six boys and six girls, and Al Mathieu from Black Success Unisex salon cut the boys’ hair.
Enough with the lip service of tackling the problem, activists say.
“With all the snitching and police infiltration going on, are they really wanting us to believe that all these top-level police investigators don’t know who is dealing guns in the inner city?” asked Charles Barron. “‘If you see something, say something’ should also apply to police officers who see criminality in their fellow officers. If they caught those eight officers running guns and drugs up and through our communities, you know there are a hundred more doing it.”
Rousing though the choir was at the homegoing service for Horton, it was also a somber call to action in the wake of the slaying of the 34-year-old mother.
The mother, who was reportedly four months pregnant at the time, died protecting children in the street as one Andrew Lopez, 18, fired shots from a rooftop in Brownsville two weeks ago. Kelly said that police have also arrested Lopez’s brother, Kristian Lopez, 17, and their half-brother, Jonathan Carrasquillo, 22.
Carrasquillo was charged with murder, two counts of felony assault, criminal possession of a weapon and reckless endangerment. A 31-year-old woman and an 11-year-old girl were also injured but survived.
At the funeral, speaker after speaker called on the community to do what Horton did and, as Sharpton put it, what not enough electeds, preachers and leaders do: “She put herself in the way.”
Erica Ford, founder of the I Love My Life Campaign, told the AmNews, “When you look at the 99 percent, the young people we serve are on the bottom of that-no jobs, affected by funding cuts to social programs and lack of quality education.
“Brownsvilles exist everywhere, and this Saturday we all come together to show the world what the people of the Brownsvilles can do working together,” she continued.
The AmNews contacted Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office on Tuesday morning to ask: “In the wake of the shooting death of Zurana Horton in Brownsville last week and the news that the community ‘coughed up’ the assailants after work put in by various community activists and groups, including CeaseFire East New York, is there any reconsideration being given to continuing the funding of Operation SNUG?”
While Cuomo’s office has not responded to the AmNews, several elected did.
Inez Barron said, “The New York State $10 billion deficit was closed by the decimation of the educational and social programs upon which so many of our citizens depend. Included in such programs was Operation SNUG, which effectively helped to reduce the occurrence of crime and provided education on conflict resolution strategies as alternatives to violation.
“We call upon the governor to immediately address the crises we are facing in our communities,” she continued. “Restoration and enhancement of funds to effective crime reduction programs is critically urgent.”
Williams spoke passionately at the funeral, saying he is “sick and tired” of the perpetual violence in certain parts of the city. He added that he, like others, is “embarrassed” they couldn’t stop the killing of the young mom.
“This is a real test of Governor Cuomo’s leadership,” Williams told the AmNews. “If he cares about the innocent lives being lost in Brooklyn and across New York State due to senseless gun violence, he will reverse course and restore funding to Operation SNUG. This initiative funds groups like Man Up Inc. in East New York, which is in the streets every day working to diffuse tensions and save our communities from bloodshed.
“These programs are far more effective in reducing violence than abused policies like stop, question and frisk,” he claimed. “Governor Cuomo has shown he has the political power to make the impossible possible, so there will be no excuse if he allows Operation SNUG to go unfunded.”
The Rev. Taharka Robinson was also at the funeral. Reinvigorated by Horton’s sacrifice, speaking to the AmNews as snow fell outside the church on Saturday, the reverend said, “I might just go back in the streets.”
Asked about Cuomo and Operation SNUG, Robinson said, “I am very much in support of requesting the resources be restored. When you have organizations like CeaseFire, there is a positive impact in the communities that are served by them. If CeaseFire can be effective in helping to solve crimes and help reduce the amount of gun violence, the funding should not only be restored but enhanced.”
Sampson turned to Man Up Inc.’s Mitchell and said, “I’m going to be with you in the street, A.T.”
By early Tuesday afternoon, Mitchell told the paper, “The governor’s office just called us to say that they were looking to give up some extra funds.”
Running the New York City Marathon on Sunday, Nov. 6, State Sen. Bill Perkins is out to raise public awareness for his “Drop the Guns: Stop the Violence” campaign.
“Join our race to save our children from violence and drugs,” said Perkins. “To reach the finish line, we need the right equipment. Too many effective programs, like Operation SNUG-guns spelled backward-an anti-violence initiative I and my colleagues started in 2009, are being defunded and cut. Maintaining a millionaire’s tax on the 1 percent is crucial to making our city safer.”
Supporters of Perkins’ initiative will chant: “Drop the guns, stop the violence” when Perkins and sponsors from Harlem United, Man Up Inc. and TCI College of Technology sprint through different neighborhoods of New York City.
Perkins urges New Yorkers to contact Cuomo and their state legislators with the message not to end the millionaire’s tax and not to eliminate essential programs like SNUG. The senator said he wants people to demand that lawmakers and the governor do their part to support the call to drop the guns and stop the violence, “including,” he said, “the terrible violence that happens when tax breaks for the rich are given priority over programs that empower the majority.”
Saturday’s march organizers told the AmNews to expect caskets to be carried across the world famous Brooklyn Bridge down to City Hall and Wall Street. “We want to signify the seriousness behind our effort,” said Mitchell.
This is a citywide effort that has incorporated traditional grassroots organizing with conference calls and meetings with Brooklyn youth.
“We are getting a lot of support on this,” said Mitchell. “We want people to understand that we are that serious, that we are tired of the rah-rah. People have heard thousands of times about what the city is going to do-well, now it is time for us to show a united force. We want action.
“We will just show up to make the situation as uncomfortable for the city as we can. We will be wheeling those caskets all over the city untilwe feel our voices are being heard and until the corporations lend support to this issue.”
**New York, NY (November 3, 2011)-National Action Network will join with Man Up Inc. (AT Mitchell) and I Love My Life (Erica Ford), and hundreds of activists for a “Ride, March, Rally” event this Saturday, November 5 in an effort to show a mass united front against gun violence in the wake of the Zurana Horton killing in Brownsville, and many other incidents in New York.The “Ride, March, Rally will be highlighted by the presence of caskets to symbolize the increasing gun fatalities in New York and organizers will be joined by gun shot survival victims and families of victims of violence.