On Thursday, April 17, Dewitt Clinton High School students took suggestions for ending area violence at a Norwood School Safety Meeting.
Led by Clinton’s United Students and Staff, a student-run club dedicated to establishing quality relationships between staff, students and the community to reduce violence, the group was disappointed with attendance from key community players.
Neither the school’s principal, Geraldine Ambrosio, or any officers from the 52nd Precinct, made an appearance.
Unfortunately, the students said they weren’t surprised from the lack of support at Clinton.
“I went personally to invite the principal and she denied me completely,” Crystal Reyes, U.S.S. youth leader said.
With or without help, these kids are determined to make a difference.
Paring up with Sistas and Brothas United, a local youth leadership project at 103 East 196th Street, Reyes said they hope to affect change starting from within.
“Many people say that your surroundings affect the way we interact with each other. Students in Dewitt Clinton High School walk the school hallway and streets with fear of something happening to us,” Reyes explained.
SBU youth leader and former Clinton student Dockeem Barnes said her fear is warranted.
“I had a lot of conflicts inside of Clinton,” he said. “Many of them I already knew were going to happen. I told many school safety agents beforehand that people were going to jump me outside the school and they didn’t take any of my complaints seriously.”
Barnes further explained that he quickly became a victim of abuse when a group charged him with bats and knives after school.
“The only reason why they didn’t do anything was because I ran and caught the train just in time,” he recalled.
Reyes said she encountered her own conflict about a month ago when two undercover cops stopped her and her friend as they were walking down Kingsbridge Road.
“All he was doing was cursing at us and telling us to shut up,” she said, still confused about why she was questioned in the first place.
Reyes said U.S.S. would continue to work in and outside Clinton to build better relationships between youth and the community.
Training on student leadership and the systems of oppression, Reyes said, “We want a lot more people to step up and not be afraid of these things, to know they can make a difference.”
Wilson Hernandez, 52nd Precinct community affairs officer, denied knowledge of the safety meeting and said, “They’re welcome to come here if they have any issues they’d like to discuss.”
Ambrosio wasn’t available for comment as of press time.
©2008 Community News Group