The National Action Network’s Occupy the Corners (OTC) campaign kicked off this past weekend at various street corners across New York City. The program, which is slated to continue over the next three weekends, is the Rev. Al Sharpton’s response to gun violence around the city.
On Friday, Saturday and Sunday night from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m., residents, politicians and community activists gathered at the designated corners in Harlem, the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. Sharpton himself was posted at corners on Friday night in Harlem, Saturday in Brooklyn and Sunday in Queens.
Community activists gave speeches about the danger of gun violence and handed out literature to those who passed by. Notable faces were also at corners, including former city comptroller and mayoral candidate Bill Thompson and activist Iesha Sekou of Street Corner Resources.
The idea for OTC is also a call to Mayor Michael Bloomberg for an immediate meeting to identify in detail the funding that is currently being given or is available to be distributed to local community service efforts that are starving for resources. OTC will push the mayor’s office to reignite private fundraising efforts in the fight against neighborhood violence.
Hardy said OTC is also in response to Commissioner Ray Kelly’s recent statements about Black leadership in the community not doing enough to cut down on violence and the need for the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk practice.
“We have to begin to take a hold of bringing order to our community,” Hardy said. “Things can’t continue to go on as usual.”
Along with Commissioner Kelly’s remarks, the recent shooting of 4-year-old Lloyd Morgan served as a wake-up call for action. Sharpton gave the eulogy for the young victim, who was fatally struck by a bullet at a playground in the Bronx.
Hardy says that NAN hopes to bring in several people to help with OTC.
“Like many things NAN does, if you build it, they will come. There are many within our community who are concerned, wanting to do something about it, but they don’t have the environment or the protection. By making this call to the people, we are expecting them to come out,” Hardy said.
The NAACP was also involved this past weekend with several members out for the OTC campaign. Among them was NAACP New York State Conference Chair Hazel Dukes, who said the campaign will show Kelly and Bloomberg just how concerned people are.
“We are involved in making sure people join in the campaign, which is an excellent idea to show the city officials and everyone else that we are concerned about the violence in the community,” she said. “This is not cure but a beginning step to ensure to our youth that there is a better way.”