As shootings are up 86 percent in NYC compared to this time last year, many are are afraid things will only get worse as the warm weather comes.
Recognizing this is Gun Violence Awareness Month, Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson and community groups held a rally June 2 to stress the need to end gun violence. The lawmaker was joined by nonprofits Bringing the Peace, Save Our Streets Bronx, Bronx Connect, Release the Grip, B.R.A.G and Guns Down, Life Up.
Gibson noted that far too often gun violence doesn’t just take the lives of people involved in gangs or drugs, but innocent bystanders. Furthermore, it is people within the community killing each other.
“We want a safe summer for 2021,” Gibson exclaimed. “We stand here united with one voice, one purpose, with one mission and that is to save our children.”
According to Gibson, the trauma of losing a child, parent or loved one should not be normalized. Unfortunately, it is for far too many people in the borough.
One way to help prevent young people from entering into a life of crime is providing them with resources.
The councilwoman announced that the city is rolling out a program titled Saturday Night Lights, where 100 schools will be open on Fridays and Saturdays from 6 p.m. to midnight for basketball and soccer.
“The best thing we can do for a young person is to offer them a job,” she stressed. “We cannot allow our children to be gunned down in our community.
I take this very personal. We want to take back our streets from those who want to inflict and impose violence on our neighborhood.”
Among those at the rally were Linda Kemp, founder of Bringing the Peace and Bernard Smith, founder of Stop the Violence. Kemp, who lost her grandson to gun violence last summer, said children should not be afraid to walk in the street.
She recalled how she recently attended an anti-gun violence rally where children held signs “Put your guns away I want to come out and play.”
Kemp said parents need to stand up and denounce violence.
“We have to tackle gun violence in our community like a health problem,” she stated.
Smith, who lost his son Arnold to gun violence in 2000, shares her sentiments.
“We have to teach the parents how to get rid of these guns,” he commented. “We’re going to stop the violence in our community by any means necessary.”