Residents want peace in their streets, and Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. hears them loud and clear.
On Wednesday, October 6, Diaz addressed the Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance at its regular meeting, and spoke about his new “Peace in the Streets” initiative. The project, a response to a slew of murders in his district in the past six months, is an attempt to combat violence, especially illegal guns.
The initiative will play out as an extended series of Sunday visits to Bronx neighborhoods. Diaz, along with other elected officials and community leaders, will go to a different neighborhood every other Sunday and approach residents at random to greet them, hand out pamphlets with anti-violence information, and ask them about safety concerns.
“I’m literally going to walk the streets, roll up my sleeves, and talk to people,” he said. “We’re going out there with a message of self-responsibility to our youth that if you work hard and study hard, you can excel. We’re going to speak to young people and ask them how they feel, find out why violence is happening, and how we can put a stop to it for good.”
The kickoff day was Sunday, September 25, when Diaz took to Wakefield and went to the NYCHA projects.
On Saturday, October 9, Diaz took his second trip, heading out to the streets of Highbridge, making stops at places such as the Highbridge Houses. He was accompanied by Gustavo Rivera, among others.
“This is an ongoing fight against violence and we are ready to keep fighting,” he said. “I will continue this direct conversation with Bronx residents to learn from their experiences and to inform them about how they can help us to battle illegal guns and crime.
The literature that Diaz hands out during “Peace in the Streets” days explains to residents how they can directly combat illegal guns and gun violence in their community on the citizen level.
As of yet, there is no set schedule ready with the exact neighborhoods Diaz will visit and on which dates.
The initative is the result of a partnership with the Bronx Clergy Task Force, and in addition to handing out information Diaz has also been knocking on doors to speak with residents at their homes.
“This is just the beginning of a long fight,” he said. “And we are not planning to stop anytime soon.”
A central goal of the initiative is to also promote the 866-GUNSTOP hotline, part of the city’s gun buyback project. “If you call and it results in an arrest, you get $1,000,” Diaz reminded attendees of the Van Nest meeting.
“In other words, you know the whole ‘stop snitching’ thing? We want people to snitch!”
©2010 Community News Group