Amsterdam News Editor
It was a bright, beautiful, hotter-than-usual morning after Memorial (Decoration) Day, when yellow police caution tape lined the block at Pennsylvania and Stanley avenues, marking off the scene where NYPD officers say they fatally wounded and apprehended a man suspected of killing his former girlfriend and firing at another man in an alleged love triangle.
Uniformed officers and detectives swarmed the crime scenes around the Resorts World Casino in South Ozone Park and later in East New York, where warrant squad officers had engaged in a shootout with Dalton Branch, 51. He was the suspect in the fatal shooting of Patricia Mohammed, 55, and in the attempted shooting of her friend Kenneth Hickman, 51.
Branch was killed in a hail of at least 20 bullets.
According to the NYPD, from Friday, May 22, to Monday, May 25, 16 shootings occurred, with 23 victims. During the same period last year, 17 shootings occurred, with 22 victims.
Four of the recent victims were pronounced dead on arrival. That weekend marked the bloody beginning of summer 2015.
“It was a very bloody Memorial Day,” A.T. Mitchell, founder and CEO of Man Up, the community anti-violence organization, told the AmNews. “We have a lot of work to do, and this is why anti-violence groups on the ground need to be supported. There is a proven record of violence interruption by organizations like Man Up, Inc., S.O.S, Life Camp Inc., 49 Strong and King of Kings Foundation. We are always on the ground trying to reduce the number of shootings over the summer, but while we will always do the work, we definitely do not have enough resources. You cannot point to neglected communities and honestly ask why they cannot heal themselves.”
Mitchell added, “Once again, as we do every year, we try to get in front of the issue before it starts. We are not focussing on arrests, we are trying to stop the violence before it happens. Nobody wins either side of the pistol. We are trying to stop the mass incarceration of our people. We are not trying to feed the prison-industrial complex.”
Speaking this Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio declared, “The NYPD is doing a fantastic job and driving down crime overall. Look, the major index crimes in New York City—we are down compared to last year to date … We have some areas we have to do better in … The fact is, in some boroughs, we have seen some increases, in others we’ve seen decreases. We have to do better in certain precincts and we have to do better at addressing the gang problem. It’s abundantly clear, what’s happening more and more is isolated to a relatively small set of gangs and crews. And more and more police resources are going to address that problem.”
De Blasio added, “We’re still at one of the lowest murder rates we’ve ever had in the history of this city.”
Laying the blame for the homicides at the feet of city “gangs,” he said, “There are certain precincts we have to do more in, and there’s certain gang issues we have to address with some additional tools. Now, we have a lot of additional tools coming online. The handheld technology is going to make a big difference. It will speed up the ability of our officers to catch the bad guys … They have the retraining. They have the new technology. They have ShotSpotter.”
“What we don’t need is for police officers to be the judge, jury and executioner,” said Mitchell. “Once the police get a reason to stop a person, they sometimes take it as a green light to kill them.”
Mininister Abdul Hafeez Muhammad, New York representative of Mininister Louis Farrakhan, stated, “If we don’t have unity, mixed with resources, then the fratricidal homicide that we have within our community will continue.”
Saying that he was speaking on behalf of Farrakhan, Muhammad told the AmNews, “When you just apply resources without the spirit of Black unity, then all we have is the crab in the barrel mentality. But when we have unity, then we share resources so we all benefit. Our love of self is going to be our ultimate solution, with or without resources.”
Muhammad concluded, “As we prepare for the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March in October 2015, Mininister Farrakhan says that we are fighting a war on two fronts—and we must fight. We cannot allow our open enemy to get off scott-free just because we are fighting within our community to stop the violence.”