Activists rally against gun violence (36844)

There were more than 20 shootings this weekend in New York City, with three deaths.

The discharge of guns and the screams of victims are not a part of a video game; it is summer in the city.

Detective Kellyann Ort, from the NYPD’s Office of the Deputy Commissioner, Public Information, told the Amsterdam News that from Friday, June 12 through Sunday, June 14, the city had 23 shootings and three homicides.

“These days in time—these summer months, these seasons—unfortunately, these sporadic shootings are going to continue unless we stop the entire city and prioritize this very severe issue,” said East New York-based activist Andre T. Mitchell. The founder and executive director of the community advocacy organization Man Up! told the Amsterdam News, “If we as a city, and in fact as a nation, do not address this issue and acknowledge that violence is a disease, if left unchecked, it will spread to every corner of this city. No one is immune or exempt from this disease. It devours

children. It devours seniors. It devours the innocent and the guilty. It devours everything in its path without prejudice.”

Residents were reeling after gunshots shattered the 2:50 a.m. calm Monday morning outside the D Avenue Lounge, at 673 Flatbush Ave. A fight erupted when a rowdy group was tossed out of the club and got into an altercation with another set of people. Someone pulled a gun and opened fire. Four men in their 20s and 30s were hit. All were taken to the hospital and said to be in stable condition. No one was immediately apprehended in the incident.

Two brothers, Vladimir Gotlibovsky, 42, and Felix Gotlibovsky, 51, gave new meaning to “shotgun wedding,” when the younger brother allegedly accidentally fired his pistol at a snazzy wedding at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel Saturday. Three hotel workers were injured, and wedding guest Maya Rafailovich suffered a grazed forehead.

Police charged Vladimir Gotlibovsky with assault, criminal negligence, tampering with physical evidence and reckless endangerment, and Felix Gotlibovsky with illegal weapon possession and tampering with physical evidence. However, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s office said it is “deferring” prosecution while the incident is being investigated. Vladimir Gotlibovsky has a permit for the 9 mm Ruger.

“The summer has only begun, but shootings continue to increase across the country,” said Brooklyn Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, deputy leader and co-chair of the Council’s Task Force to Combat Gun Violence. Reacting to the spate of shootings, he said, “June is Gun Violence Awareness Month in New York City. During this month, we as a community must come together to demand real change so we stop seeing incidents like this.”

Williams continued, “As an elected official who has fought to combat gun violence throughout the city, I am troubled each time I hear of another shooting. We have to do more.

“As our nation discusses ways to improve police-community relations … Instead of asking, ‘How can police deal with crime while keeping citizens and officers safe?’ we need to ask, ‘What can be done to deal with crime while keeping citizens and officers safe?’ The first question assumes that the only response to improving public safety is again solely police, but we must implement creative strategies like those in our city’s Crisis Management System aimed at holistically combating gun violence in our communities. Fixing a broken window should at minimum include a handyman.”

Williams noted that as the city is finalizing the budget, he is “advocating for a significant investment to be made for youth jobs across the city, particularly in neighborhoods dealing with chronic issues of violence.” He said, “Providing young people with jobs is one of the most effective ways to offer them constructive opportunities, avoid troublesome behavior, provide work experience and assist their families. I strongly believe that adding youth jobs is just as—if not more—important to improving our city’s public safety system as adding more officers, because youth jobs will fully equip every community so they become the village that can raise a child.”

Activist A.T. Mitchell, who along with groups such as Iesha Sekou’s Street Corner Resources, Erica Ford’s Life Camp, Lance Feurtado’s King of Kings Foundation, and Jackie Rowe-Adam’s Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E., reiterates, “This disease feeds off of poverty, unemployment, under employment, never employment. It is neglect and despair and racism.”

Several “under funded” not-for-profits are in the streets as violence interrupters, “policing” their own communities and trying to prevent the escalation of any conflict.

“We currently have a public-health strategy to address the public-safety issue. The CureViolence model is part of the crisis management system which includes the wrap-around services,” Mitchell explained. “It is a Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council funded initiative, but we need more funding. Just pouring more police into the community is not the answer. We have proven solutions based organizations, and increased funding would help us to increase our effort.”