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Queens Chronicle

Is unity enough to curb gun violence?

Shootings persist despite rallies, marches, Night Out, other gatherings

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Posted: Thursday, August 16, 2012 10:30 am | Updated: 10:58 am, Thu Aug 23, 2012.

There is no shortage of events in Southeast Queens to decry gun violence — rallies, marches, meetings, safety events, gun buybacks — but the shootings continue. Some community leaders insist these programs serve a purpose, while others are at a loss for what else they can do.

The latest such event was held Sunday in Jamaica, and its aim was to promote “unity in the community.” Among those in attendance was Leroy Gadsden, president of the Jamaica NAACP.

He called on those who are able to intervene and stop violence, to do so. He encouraged those who witness crimes to report them. Gadsden stressed the need for youth programs and a strong family environment. Further, Gadsden demanded that the city allot money to community programs that provide positive and viable alternatives to crime.

“We speak to those who would bring harm on their own people, we say to you that we love you, but you have to change your ways. Yes, you are a part of us, but we cannot accept your behavior,” Gadsden said. “We accept you, but your behavior has to go. We ask that you stop and think about what you are doing.”

But are Gadsden’s words just falling on deaf ears?

Felonies are on the rise at all three precincts in Southeast Queens. At the 105th Precinct in Queens Village, crime is up 7.5 percent for the year to date through Aug. 5, according to the latest CompStat report. At the 103rd Precinct in Jamaica it has increased 7.3 percent for the same time period and at the 113th, also in Jamaica, it has climbed nearly 6 percent.

On Aug. 8, one day after the National Night Out Against Crime, an annual event by police precincts to encourage communities to adopt ways to fight crime, Sgt. Craig Bier, a member of the NYPD’s Queens gang unit, was shot and wounded in Jamaica. The alleged assailant, John Thomas, remains at large.

Donna Clopton, president of the 103rd Precinct Community Council, said the inability to get a handle on gun violence is “frustrating,” and she said she felt angry after hearing what happened to Bier. But Clopton still supports the NNOAG, and noted that the precinct has a large turnout every year.

“I think it does some good,” Clopton said. “It gets people talking. We get an audience. Some are gang members. It lets people know what they can do.”

Clopton also said the safety event helps erode at the “don’t snitch” mentality and the idea that police officers are adversaries as opposed to protectors. She also stressed the need for stop and frisk and added that at the moment a lot of leaders are at a loss for what more they can do to protect their communities.

“The gun violence is like a disease,” Clopton said. “It’s an epidemic. It’s very troubling. When does it stop?”

Kevin Livingston, a bank employee known for giving business attire to gang members as part of his 100 Suits for 100 Men program, said he thinks people are taking the wrong approach to curbing crime.

“It’s like we’re waving the white flag,” he said. “We’re not doing anything proactive. You can’t be reactive. You have to be proactive.”

In line with that, Livingston is having a march against violence at 1 p.m. on Sept. 8 starting at 110th Avenue and 160th Street in Jamaica and stopping at Parsons Boulevard and Archer Avenue, where representatives from trade schools will be on hand to recruit students and there will be other job training and education opportunities. For more information, contact Livingston at (347) 472-2519.

In 2009, the NYPD and Queens District Attorney’s Office took over 900 guns off the streets of Southeast Queens with a gun buyback program. In June, after much public outcry, the Queens Borough President’s Office held another one, but that time only 55 weapons were collected. Despite the low turnout, there will be another gun buyback at New Jerusalem Baptist Church in Jamaica on Saturday. It is being sponsored by state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Jamaica), WPIX 11 and the city Housing Authority.

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  • Apani Smith posted at 3:44 pm on Wed, Nov 28, 2012.

    Apani Smith Posts: 0

    This whole statement that the police are our friends and not our adversaries will be a stretch. I had the police come to my house swearing that someone from my home called them. I DID NOT, I was at the store and just came home. I did however have a guest. The guest says they did not call but he may have, why I do not know...So I explained to the police I just arrived home and did not call them and then I called my guest down to the door and asked them if they had called. Well the police became upset and ADVERSARIAL to me and basically insisted I let them in or they may come back with a warrant to search my home and basically yelled at me quite nastily. I let them in becasue I had nothing to hide and I wanted them gone but it certainly did not make me feel safe or as if i would ever want to call them to help me with anything. My story was easily verifiable. The officer could've just asked me to show him the receipt from the store...

    Now my dad, and ALL my uncles were officers. I am not a cop hater in general I understand that people lie all the time but as professionals there should just be a policy of courtesy becasue you are coming to someone's home. I live on a quiet block, myhomewas quiet and it is just unneccessary to come toppl's home and treat them as criminals just based on a phone call. Where was the investigation? No questions were posed that were not accusatory. Officers see many of the negative sides of human nature but we cannot paint all citizens you interact with with a broad brush. It does not encourage trust.

  • MAG posted at 7:22 pm on Thu, Aug 16, 2012.

    MAG Posts: 0

    Though I can appreciate the theme "unity in the community", it is past-time that our "Federal Government" unite and pass "common sense federal gun, drug and gang laws" that will "prevent" the violence that is wide-spread across "America!" I may disagree with Bloomberg on many issues, but hell yes, those wishing to govern this country must speak up and speak out against the gun violence, drug and gang activity that only "unites" our communities when these horrible acts are committed.

    Every law abiding citizen in this country should demand from the sitting president and the other wanna be's to define their agenda on preventing and stopping these public health issues. Yes, these are public health/mental health issues that I"ve repeatedly said for almost 20 years, and yes, they do have a major impact on our quality of life!

    We cannot deny that many of our youth (and not so young) have mental health issues they cannot cope with, and many have been deprived of basic medical care during their formative years. During the past few decades, we have babies having babies and they have no clue what it takes to be a parent. Many didn't receive the proper (if any) prenatal care to nourish their bodies, or their babies physical and mental growth. The medical professionals didnt' take the time with the parent or child to assess if there was a developmental or behavior problem that needed to be addressed. Even today, the waiting rooms are packed and the "medical professionals" rush you in and out as if you have a contagious disease. No pun intended, but the "contagious disease" was and is a "lack" of professional medical care which has now become an epidemic.

    America is in a "Mental Health Crisis" and has been for many, many decades. Perhaps, if we all take a closer look at what was, and what we are now witnessing, we will finally see how we got where we are today. Many of our youth (and not so young) were deprived of the basic needs of life: love, proper parenting and guidance, proper medical care, proper nutrition and a decent education. Without any of those basic needs, what did you expect? Someone once said, "if you want to know where this generation came from, just look in the mirror!" They were so right.
    We now have youth (and not so young) reacting to what was and is missing in their lives. If we are truly honest with ourselves, we know that much of what happens "today" and "tomorrow" is the result of many, many years that we as parents, family members, doctors, educators, clergy, friends, law enforcement, and yes, "elected officials" placed on the back burner for so long. Now, our youth (and not so young) have come home to roost, and everyone is rushing to find a remedy to the madness.

    These unfortunate souls come from all walks of life. The rich, middle class and the poor all suffer, though some more than others. It surely does not take a "rocket scientist" to know what is needed to solve these ills that cause so much pain, and suffering everyday in this once "great nation." Terrorist acts from abroad are real threats to America, and so is gun violence, drugs and gangs. Does it not make sense that this same government use every resource available to stop the gun violence, drugs and gang violence in this country that they so quickly use to stop the violence in other countries? Many may not agree with me, but I've said it quite often that if it takes the "National Guard" to stop all this, then so be it. Our armed forces are used all over the world to fight for the freedoms and peace of others; yet right here in "America, we are constantly living in fear for our own safety while the guns, drugs and gang violence continue to overshadow our "freedom" to live the quality of life that we deserve. Shame! Shame!

    It is truly "past-time" that the "Mental Health Crisis" be addressed, and those in need of "professional help" get it. Incarceration is not the answer to "mental health" issues. We all know the prison population consists of more "mentally disturbed" inmates than it does "petty offenders." Instead of the prisons (or even building more) surely the government can afford to have mental health facilities open 24/7 in every community to assist those in need. Let's not wait until the next "time bomb" walking amongst us explodes. If you have a family member, friend, or colleague that you suspect may be in need of help, don't just sit there and do nothing because he or she could be the "walking time bomb" waiting to explode, and then it's too late.