To Our Elected Officials,
We are tired of empty rhetoric and an ineffective response to ongoing violence and escalating trauma in our neighborhood.
Our section of Bedford-Stuyvesant (particularly in the area of Malcolm X Blvd and Chauncey St in the NYPD 81st Precinct) has been plagued by longstanding feuds between rival gangs and in recent months has been the scene of multiple shootings. Just this week a single street corner saw three people shot in two separate incidents – within the span of just nine hours, and with NYPD already on the scene. This comes following a steady stream of other shootings that have happened in the area in recent months.
For those directly impacted (your constituents), these avoidable events have changed the course of their lives forever, including lives lost. The indirect impacts to our loved ones, relatives, visitors, and bystanders exposed to the violence and other criminal activities are just as relevant. After a violent incident earlier this week, one neighbor fell while running away from the incident with a three-year-old in her arms. Another neighbor, who is also your constituent, was across the street from a shooting while his daughter was taking tennis lessons in the park.
Today, far too many of us in this community are in shock and traumatized, forced to bury our pain to make it through the day. The violence will have a lasting impact on our collective mental health and our dignity as a people. It may also contribute to an economic flight, as those with financial means may decide to move to other communities that feel (and are) safer.
Prior interventions such as NYPD spotlights, the short-lived placement of parked police cars and the occasional police patrols have clearly proven insufficient. We demand additional resources and real, permanent solutions to tackle these problems, including the creation of a violence interruption program for our area. Violence interruption programs such as S.O.S. have a proven track record of reducing violence in other parts of Bedford-Stuyvesant, and these crucial services must be expanded to include our community.
One shooting – and one life lost – is one too many. Violence and corresponding gang activity are not normal and should not be normalized by our elected officials. For far too long, the health and safety and trauma of our community has been disregarded, blamed on ‘misguided’ individuals who have been underserved for the entirety of their lives. We, your constituents, are tired of that faulty narrative, and we are committed to holding our elected officials accountable. As our elected representatives, you have an obligation to work with community leaders and other elected officials on behalf of all members of our community to effect real change, starting now.
The opinions, content and/or information in this article are those of the author and are independent of BK Reader.