With casket on display, activists denounce gun violence
by Benjamin Fang
Jul 15, 2020 | 1368 views | 0 0 comments | 88 88 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Anti-violence activists displayed 101 pairs of shoes to symbolize the amount of shooting victims in one week. (Photo: Hercules Reid/Brooklyn BP’s Office)
Anti-violence activists displayed 101 pairs of shoes to symbolize the amount of shooting victims in one week. (Photo: Hercules Reid/Brooklyn BP’s Office)
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The vigil on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall also featured a casket at the front. Photo: Jonah Allon/Brooklyn BP’s Office)
The vigil on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall also featured a casket at the front. Photo: Jonah Allon/Brooklyn BP’s Office)
slideshow
After a gruesome week of gun violence that resulted in 101 shooting victims in 74 different incidents, a group of elected officials, mothers who lost children to shootings and advocates hosted a vigil last Wednesday on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall.

To symbolize the number of people affected by the shootings, the anti-violence activists laid out 101 pairs of shoes on the steps, as well as a casket at the front of the display.

According to Borough President Eric Adms, three-quarters of the victims of the shootings were Black.

“That is unimaginable,” he said. “It’s not normal. These mothers lost their babies.”

According to NYPD statistics, murders have increased by 23 percent over the same time period last year, and shootings have gone up 46 percent.

The borough president, a former police captain who spent 22 years on the force, attributed the increase in gun violence partly to a lack of services, particularly for young people. He said the closing of pools, lack of summer youth jobs and the absence of alternatives contributed to the trend.

“The number of young people between the ages of 18 and 22 that are doing nothing at all, they are stuck at home with two or three generations,” Adams said. “When you add all of this stuff, you see the byproduct of it.”

Mothers who lost their children to shootings said they are heartbroken by the violence. Natasha Christopher, whose son Akeal was killed in 2012, said she should have never had to bury her child.

“I am sick of having conversations with parents who continue to cry over their children,” she said. “I have other kids, and I’m scared that this could happen again.

“We keep saying Black Lives Matter,” Christopher added. “But Black lives have to start mattering to Black people.”

Christopher urged parents to get involved and become anti-violence activists now, rather than wait for a tragedy to act.

She also advised parents to check their children’s phones and bookbags and empty drawers to ensure they don’t have a gun at their disposal.

“I need to know what’s going on in my children’s lives,” she said. “I am not my children’s friend, I am doing parenting.”

Jackie Rowe Adams, co-founder of Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E., reiterated this point, telling parents that they should pay attention to who their kids hang out with.

Adams, who lost two children to gun violence, also criticized Cure Violence groups and interrupters for “not doing enough.” She said she doesn’t want to see more money going into these organizations if shootings keep going up.

“I’m calling them out today,” she said. “Do your job.”

Anthony Beckford, president of Black Lives Matter Brooklyn, said he has also seen parents “become the friends of their children” rather than being a parent.

As a single father of an eight-year-old daughter, Beckford called on more activists to speak out about the surge in gun violence.

“I’ll be damned if anyone tries to take my daughter’s life away from me,” he said, “or try to disrupt my child’s life.”

To better inform parents on how to be proactive to prevent shootings, Adams said his office is planning to produce and share a series of videos explaining how to search a child’s room and what to look for in their bookbag and on their phones.

He urged parents to check what their kids are doing on the street, find out who they’re hanging out with, and even call their friends’ parents to find out how they are holding their children accountable.

The borough president said he will reach out to “notable influencers,” celebrities and others with large followings to share the video on social media.

“Start to play the basic roles of the principle of parenting again,” Adams said. “Children are looking for us to be the adults and parents we’re supposed to be.”

The mayoral candidate said he wants to also call a gang summit, having gang members sit down in a room and engage in real talk about violence. The summit will also hear the voices of young people, Adams said.

When asked about the disbanding of the NYPD’s Anti-Crime Unit, Adams said while he agreed that it should have been shut down in its current form, he believes it should be brought back and revamped.

The former police captain said there were too many young officers in that unit, and that many cops were “not responding in a respectful manner.” Adams also said he wants more supervision of the unit, and that it should be controlled within precinct boundaries so that precinct commanders can be held accountable.

“Sometimes in order to build something right, you have to dismantle it,” Adams said. “I believe we need to use all the mechanisms of policing to go after a moving target of violence. We need to be flexible.”
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