This is not a game. Nor is it a movie.
A total of 51 people were shot and six died during another violent weekend in the city that saw nearly 40 shootings. The community, police and elected officials are scrambling to end the bloodshed as President Donald Trump threatens to bring in federal police. New Yorkers do not want a Portland military-on-the-streets situation.
“The shootings increase is the result of multiple factors: socio-economic stress aggravated by the coronavirus pandemic, the proliferation of illegal handguns, conflicts between crime entities and organizations on the street, emboldened criminal opportunists who are taking full advantage of the shifted police resources, a slowdown of enforcement by police in reaction to reform policies and laws, and the lack of vision and innovation from professional law enforcement,” said Marquez Claxton, a retired NYPD detective.
The city is shuddering from yet another weekend of double and triple season numbers. The summer always seems to bring out the gunfire for all number of factors, but this 2020—COVID-impact, increased poverty, unemployment, despair, national insecurity—has led to a greater saturation of violence.
Among the dead this weekend is a 47-year-old man who was shot twice in the head in Brooklyn and an off-duty corrections officer in Queens, according to reports. One shooting occurred Friday night at a seafood boil party in Harlem where a man fired into a crowd.
Other incidents include a shooting at the Grand Central Terminal subway station on the 4, 5, 6. Two men were seen on surveillance video arguing when one man shot the other on the platform leaving him injured.
In the Bronx, a 19-year-old man was reportedly shot in the neck in Morrisania. He was taken to Lincoln Hospital where he was in stable condition.
A 28-year-old man was shot in the face in Brooklyn Saturday afternoon. Police say the suspect was shooting from a moving U-Haul truck.
A 46-year-old man who was lighting candles for another shooting victim in Brooklyn on Sunday was gunned down fatally. The victim, Paul “P-Funk” Pinkney, was memorializing 28-year-old DeShawn Reid, who was killed Friday by gunshot. Pinkney was pronounced dead on the scene.
The NYPD continues to report that shootings are up compared to this time last year. This week, more detailed numbers were released borough by borough of how different areas of the city are faring when it comes to gun violence. In the Bronx, shootings are up 60%, Manhattan shootings are up by 54%, and in Queens 75%. Shootings are up 102% in Brooklyn and 108% in Staten Island, the sharpest increases in the city.
“Violence is tremendously out of control,” Brooklyn anti-violence advocate A.T. Mitchell stated. “Violence can’t be predicted. It’s a disease that no one is immune from. This type of violence is setting us back 10, 20 years ago. We must continue in our effort to infuse resources into communities that are stricken with violence with as many resources as we possibly can to fight this epidemic.”
As far as putting federal officers in Black neighborhoods to quell the violence, Mitchell said the federal government should put its focus on stopping the guns from coming into the community. He believes that deploying federal police officers into neighborhoods of color is a distraction and poor use of federal resources.
“You can’t arrest your way out of this,” he said. “You are picking on the easiest prey which is the young people. Go after the big fish. Use federal officers to find out where these guns are coming in from and stop the influx of these guns in our community.”
Black Law Enforcement Alliance founder and CEO Marquez Claxton said, “If communities, a few who have been promoting the idea of disbanding the police, take full advantage of the opportunity to auto-correct and police themselves successfully, police departments will have overestimated their value, gambled and rendered themselves obsolete.”
The NYPD said they did not have a statement from Police Commissioner Dermot Shea on the weekend shootings at press time.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s press office referred the AmNews to de Blasio’s Monday press briefing where he discussed the violence. He once again pushed the idea that the court system being closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic is a reason for the increase in violence.
“We are dealing with a perfect storm,” the mayor said. “I keep telling everyone, I think everyday New Yorkers understand it. We have been put through hell on the city. Everything fell apart simultaneously because of the coronavirus. We’re now building it back up and the NYPD is moving officers where they’re needed, engaging with the community more deeply to fight crime, increasing gun arrests, but it will take time, and we need the whole picture to come back into focus. We need the court system to get working again.”
Trump continues to threaten to bring in federal police to stop the violence in New York. The consistent call comes as Trump gets a major endorsement from the Police Benevolent Association, the NYPD’s union.
“Law and Order,” Trump said on Twitter, “If the mayor can’t do it, we will!”
In response, de Blasio said the NYPD has things under control and that Trump is only threatening to bring in federal police for political gain.
“The president blusters and the president tries to draw attention to himself and rarely has much to back it up,” de Blasio said. “The bottom line is, the NYPD is, obviously, as they have done for decades upon decades, they are the people who can help us address this issue and end this violence and that’s who I’m relying on.”
Brooklyn State Sen. Zellnor Myrie introduced legislation this week amending New York State’s criminal nuisance law to include the sale or manufacture of firearms. The amendment would hold gun makers and sellers accountable for distributing their products in New York.
“In the wake of a gun violence epidemic plaguing the city, state, and nation, we have a duty to hold all responsible parties accountable,” said Myrie, a member of both the Senate Codes Committee and the Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections Committee. “While communities of color have died disproportionately from gun violence and COVID-19 over the past five months, gun manufacturers have seen their stocks and profits soar. Something isn’t right with that equation.”
Myrie and Bronx/Westchester State Sen. Jamaal Bailey have collaborated on additional gun violence legislation to address the increase of shootings. Bailey’s bill is currently before the Judiciary Committee.
Former cop Claxton said, “It is clear that the current crop of senior law enforcement executives are out of ideas and have decided to ride out the crime wave as opposed to developing and implementing a proactive enforcement response that can operate within the bounds of the law, respecting the sanctity of life and cognizant of the demands for comprehensive reform. It appears that the police believe that if they are not allowed to operate ‘under the color of law’ in Black and Brown communities then they won’t operate at all. It appears that professional police officers believe the oath, obligation and honor are trumped by the need to preserve the remnants of institutional and systemic racism.”