The city continues its summer spike in violence but several actions are now being taken to cut down on shootings––including schedule shifts for the NYPD and a movement to hold gun makers and dealers accountable for the violence.
The NYPD reports that the city went through its 12th straight week of violence across the city with 35 shootings and 46 victims leaving five people dead last weekend.
Among the dead is 25-year-old Priscilla Vasquez who was shot in the back of the head Saturday, Aug. 22, in the Bronx. Reports indicate that Vasquez was with friends in front of a public school when a masked suspect wearing a hood came up to the group and fired.
Leaving behind three children, Vasquez worked for the parks department along with working in cosmetology. Her family doesn’t believe she was the intended target.
No arrests have been made as police continue to investigate.
“She was very supportive, she was very free, she lived life, she struggled, she was a great mom, that’s what she knew best,” one of her friends said in a televised interview. “She lost her mom at a young age, so she knew she had to take care of her kids, and now her kids are going to grow up without a mom too. It’s hard.”
An 18-year-old woman was shot at a baby shower at Jefferson Park in East Harlem, a 33-year-old man was fatally shot in the head in a park in Hollis, Queens, an Uber driver was shot in Brooklyn and several people were injured during shooting in Coney Island where one person was left dead.
In a recent interview with the AmNews, Brooklyn State Sen. Zellnor Myrie discussed his recently introduced legislation that would amend New York State’s criminal nuisance law to include the sale or manufacture of products which endanger peoples’ health or safety.
“Our communities have been disproportionately affected by illegal guns,” he said. “But this is not a new problem. We’ve been marching against gun violence for decades and it’s time to hold the responsible party accountable.”
Myrie compares his legislation to holding manufactures of harmful products accountable like the tobacco industry and pharmaceutical companies. The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) generally shields gun manufacturers and sellers from liability, unlike most other commercial enterprises. However, the PLCAA specifically excludes manufacturers who knowingly violate state laws that regulate the gun industry.
“Illegal guns are already here,” Myrie said. “If you want to get a gun, it’s not that difficult because of how robust the illegal gun market is. These gun makers have had unfair protections from the federal government. They have been unwilling to open their books and unwilling to be held accountable.”
The AmNews reached out to NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea about the violent wave. A representative for the police department referred the AmNews to recent televised interviews where Shea called the outbreak a “perfect storm.”
“It’s attitudes to the criminal justice system, it’s resources,” he said. “More importantly how do we get out of it? We need to band together. We need to fight back this gun violence I think in many different ways. Legislators that are listening, I think we need to evaluate some of the existing policies. They’re done for good reasons at times but let’s take a stock of where we are right now.”
The NYPD is making schedule changes to combat the violence. By the end of the month more officers will work weekends with one-third working Sunday through Thursday and remaining officers working Tuesday through Saturday, according to reports.
Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch said the city is overreaching for police demands as officials strip funding from the NYPD. “This unprecedented deployment shows how dire the situation on the street has become,” Lynch said. “Our elected leaders are busy stripping resources from the NYPD in the middle of a crime wave, and yet they’re asking cops to sacrifice more to help right the ship. We are at the breaking point.”
Mayor Bill de Blaiso said this week he doesn’t regret his decision to eliminate the NYPD’s anti-crime unit, which takes plainclothes officers off the streets.
“The problem was both the reality on the ground, the relationship between police and community,” de Blasio said. “This was not a helpful reality, just the way that that unit had evolved over time. It doesn’t mean they didn’t do good work. They did in fact, a lot of good work and [there were] a lot of good people in that unit.”
Last Saturday, motorcyclists made a statement for peace at Colonel Young Park in Harlem during the Ride Out rally. The rally was organized by anti-violence organization Street Corner Resources. Speakers included Advocates Without Borders and Bishop David Maldonado, bikers Hollywood Stunts, Superman HB and Guccigutta as well as Assemblymember Inez Dickens, State Sen. Brian Benjamin, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Councilmember Bill Perkins.