Rash of recent NYC shootings sparks fear, action

theGRIO REPORT - Last weekend marked one of the most violent in recent memory for many New Yorkers. It was a Labor Day holiday marked with at least 4 deaths and dozens of shootings...

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

Last weekend marked one of the most violent in recent memory for many New Yorkers. It was a Labor Day holiday marked with at least 4 deaths and dozens of shootings.

A 56-year-old mother was killed next to her daughter the night of the West Indian Day Parade in Brooklyn. It was the result of a gunfight that broke out between a group of men, two of whom died from gunshot wounds.

Many in the community are wondering what actions are being taken in the wake of this spike in violent gun crime. Some blame the federal government, others blame the state government, while others say it’s more local and goes straight to the mayor of New York City.

“It’s beyond words that this amount of gun violence can happen. That people are so distanced to what death is,” said City Councilman Jumaane Williams whose district is one of the many affected by gun violence in the city.

“You have a gun and you don’t know what the hell you are doing,” he said, “And you’re killing people’s mothers. The pain doesn’t even end when the bullet hits.”

Williams who represents Brooklyn’s District 45 was “discriminated” against by N.Y. cops and briefly detained in a dispute at the West Indian Parade.

The councilman’s district includes Flatbush, East Flatbush, Flatlands, parts of Midwood and Canarsie. He gave an impassioned speech about the issue of gun violence to the New York City Council in July. He said there isn’t enough being done to address the problem, mainly because of the people it’s primarily affecting.

“If this was happening and it was young men who were not black or Latino, then there would be a huge uproar,” Williams said he told the city council. “It’s a huge problem and it’s usually black and Latino males, shooting black and Latino males.”

While the problem of illegal guns and violent gun crime was splashed across headlines this week, New York City has seen a 35 percent reduction in overall crime, with a nearly 2.8 percent drop in shooting incidents. According to news reports, the total number of shootings this year totals around 1,123.
For his part, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg speaks regularly on gun violence and used some of his own money to help create a national group to fight the problem called Mayors Against Illegal Guns. The group has been working to close the loophole in illegal gun sales in the country, and is pushing for federal gun laws to help stem the flow of illegal guns into New York.

Another organization, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence is sympathetic to Mayor Bloomberg’s mission. “It’s important to say that communities with the uptick in gun violence are the communities that are awash in illegal guns,” said Deputy Director Colin Weaver.

“A lot of people assume that the government at the federal level is doing everything in its power, but they’re not,” Weaver said.

Mayor Bloomberg has called repeatedly for those affected by gun violence to urge lawmakers in Washington to enact legislation that’s not friendly to organizations such as the National Rifle Association. The city’s gun laws are stringent and buyback programs have taken hundreds of guns off the street, but the problem still persists.

“I don’t know what the mayor means when he asks the federal government to get involved,” said Tamika D. Mallory, National Executive Director of Al Sharpton’s National Action Network. “Where is the strategy to deal with gun violence?”

Mallory said more pressure needs to be put on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to enact legislation and support programs and organizations that work with at-risk youth. She’d like to see the same effort put into passing property tax cap legislation and same-sex marriage into fighting gun violence in New York City.

It was announced yesterday that Williams, the Brooklyn councilman, will help lead a taskforce to address gun violence. “I think not enough is being done,” he said about the Mayor’s role in addressing the recent spike in shootings. “I think the mayor does care about the issue.”

The main criticism Williams has about New York City’s efforts to fight gun violence is what he called “draconian cuts” to city programs and non-profit organizations that work in the communities most affected by gun violence. “He can control the NYC budget,” Williams said of the mayor.

Cuts to youth services such as after school programs coupled with the bleak job market lends itself to upticks in violent crime, he said. The mayor, he said, “makes these decision and I don’t think that he sees the direct connection that’s happened,” with the increase in violence.