“It is straight arrogance of the Police Department to say that they are the only ones who can deal with the issue of inner-city violence,” said State Sen. Eric Adams. “People only speak to people they trust, and the NYPD has spent 10 years alienating the very people they are now asking for help. We have so many organizations, like Man Up! and SOS [Save Our Streets] and LIFE Camp, who have helped lower crime, and they are rewarded by having their funding taken away. It is the height of hypocrisy.”
As just a bloody sample, in the past few weeks, two toddlers have been shot, a rising tennis star was shot, the famous Rucker basketball competition got shot up and six people were injured in a drive-by.
While the 12-body-count white-on-white violence in Colorado sent President Barack Obama flying out to meet the families and expose how heinous the crime of the alleged lone shooter was and had the mainstream media trying to explain away possible psychosis or other mental deficiencies, one New York City activist noted, “There has not been much more than a peep from the White House about the ongoing genocidal murder in urban America.”
New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly made the decision to focus a rant last month on how Black and Brown folks in the high-crime areas were not interested in stopping the violence where they live, but reportedly has not responded to statewide electeds’ calls for help with proven programs.
“Yesterday in Bay Ridge, a white man was robbing local stores and was going undetected in the war against gun violence. I have been saying that the safest illegal occupation in this city is to be a white male in a business suit and be dealing in drugs or guns. No one suspects them, no one checks them, no one inspects them,” said Adams, a 23-year veteran of the NYPD.
“Maybe the reason they can’t stop the flow of guns coming in to the community is because no one is checking the people bringing in the guns,” he said.
The retired police captain and now six-year state senator told the AmNews to ask, “When was the last time we heard that the police apprehended a large cache of guns? You can’t stop the flow coming out of the tap, you’ve got to stop the flow coming in to the tap.
“That’s why we have a losing anti-gun policy in this city based on a failed stop-and-frisk policy. It’s like closing the barn door when the horse has already gone free. But Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly are wedded to a failed police policy, and they are now trying to divorce themselves from its failed results.”
State Sen. Malcolm Smith, one of the co-conceivers of Operation SNUG, a city- and state-funded anti-gun violence initiative, told the AmNews, “A comprehensive plan needs to be employed and deployed in all five boroughs. SNUG and Ceasefire Chicago have been so successful minimizing gun violence, the state and city should probably support a SNUG program in each borough in the high crime areas. There has to be one plan that all the five boroughs agree to.”
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.”