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The surge in violence rages on as conflicts over crime and policing happen in the backdrop. Anti-violence leaders are also preparing for the long Labor Day holiday weekend they believe will leave blood in the streets.

In another violent weekend, New York City saw at least 18 people shot and another 14 shot between Monday and Tuesday leaving two people dead. The city also reached a sobering milestone this week. The NYPD reports that over 1,000 shootings have occurred so far in 2020, a nearly 60% increase compared to this time last year.

Among those killed was 62-year-old caretaker Edward James, who was shot in the torso Monday evening in front of Glorious Church of God in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. Police don’t have a motive and are still investigating.

Other killings include a 25-year-old man who was shot in the head in Canarsie, Brooklyn and another man fatally shot in the Cortona section of the Bronx while sitting inside a vehicle.

Anti-violence activists across the city have been holding marches and demonstrations to keep peace in the streets. Several Brooklyn politicians, including City Council Member Matthew Eugene, State Sen. Zellnor Myrie, Rep. Yvette Clark and Assemblywoman Diana Richardson, attended the “Stop the Violence Community Peace March” Sunday, Aug. 30, near Empire Boulevard and Flatbush Avenue to call for an end to the bloodshed.

“This is a crisis in the same way the city and community is facing the COVID-19 crisis, this is a crisis that has been for so long,” Eugene said. “And it’s very important that we come together, the same way we come here today, to join forces to fight against gun violence because the people in the community, the children, the parent, the business people, the teacher they deserve to be able to live in a peaceful community.”

The over 60 organizations that make up New York City’s Crisis Management System (CMS) are planning efforts to address the current wave of gun violence. As the city prepares for Labor Day weekend, community-based organizations are preparing for a more visible presence and increased deployment in order to defuse conflict.

“The work we do is the solution,” said Erica Ford, CEO of Life Camp. “We need to invest in what works. Our neighborhoods have been destabilized by COVID-19 and job loss. Violence is a public health epidemic. Our violence interrupters are trained in de-escalation and to interrupt before 911 calls are met but prevention is always the best strategy. We need the resources to create more interventions and alternatives before the violence happens.”

During a recent press briefing Mayor Bill de Blaiso said the NYPD is working with community members, clergy, elected officials, the Cure Violence movement and the Crisis Management System on the issue.

“The violence is so painful, and Dermot and I have spent time with the families who lost loved ones to that violence and Davell Gardner Jr. immediately comes to mind,” de Blasio said. “We spent time with his mom and his grandma, and it was one of the most painful things I’ve experienced in a long time. We are feeling this violence deeply.”

Amid the growing call to stop the violence another conflict continues to brew over allegations that NYPD officers are participating in a slowdown. The department is accused of directing law enforcement to deliberately cut down on operations amid the recent $1 billion cut in funding to the NYPD and the ongoing movement over social justice.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Bronx City Council Member Ritchie Torres are at the helm of the criticism. Both politicians are calling for an investigation into whether or not the NYPD is harboring a work stoppage, which is leading to the increase in violence.

“There is a perception among members of the public, as well as elected officials that rising violence in the city can be attributed to a work slowdown, but the reality matters more than the perception,” Torres said at a news conference this week. “The NYPD is making fewer gun arrests, is solving fewer gun cases and responding more slowly to gun crimes in progress.”

Adams pointed to specific numbers of a rise in violent crimes and 911 calls last month.

“As of August 23rd, murder up 30%, shooting victims up 95%, shootings incidents up 87%, 911 times rose,” Adams said.

The AmNews asked for a response from the NYPD over the allegations and was referred to a recent televised interview with Commissioner Dermot Shea.

“This is about math and it’s really not that complicated, from my point of view. Let’s go back to June 30th and the weeks leading up to it when we had conversations about defunding the police––60% cut in overtime.” Shea said. “You are talking hundreds of millions of dollars taken out of the budget. That budget went directly to taking cops off the street, essentially, you are talking thousands less officers. I would equate this to a fire raging in the building and you turn off the hose for the firemen, shutting the hose.”

Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch said in a statement that there are more officers on the street as the NYPD recently changed work schedules for more officers to work on weekends.

“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.”

PBA President Lynch’s recent endorsement of President Donald Trump is also adding to the tension of police-community relations. Some officers say the endorsement was made without consulting them and not all agree that Trump deserves another four years.

NYPD Guardians President and Community Affairs Officer Felicia Richards told the AmNews she surveyed her members and 91% disagree with the PBA’s Trump endorsement. As Trump touts his “law and order” campaign message, police are being seen as the enemy.

“When those comments came out of [Lynch’s] mouth, my phone started blowing up,” Richards said. “The majority said they were not in agreement and it was not representative of the thorough process. It does a disservice to those officers who work in the neighborhoods.”