As the weather has gotten warmer, bodies have continued to drop throughout the city. In fact, on June 11, there was a shooting in every borough.
In an effort to curb the gun violence, Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernandez allocated $45,000 on June 14 to the Stand Up to Violence (SUV) Program. SUV is Jacobi Medical Center’s Violence Interruption Program funded by the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services.
“We know SUV was working before COVID and during and I’d be remiss if I didn’t take an opportunity to help,” Fernandez said to the Bronx Times. “This is a real solution that we see is working. It’s a very practical system and their way of addressing it (gun violence) treats it like a disease.”
The assemblywoman noted that the Bronx needs more safe spaces for children and teens, diversity in businesses and better programming in schools. While there are two YMCAs coming here in the fall, more must be done, she stressed.
If these things existed then maybe Bronxites would feel less of a need to use a gun, she commented.
“Young people when they join gangs it’s because they’re looking for community,” Fernandez said.
One person who is on the front lines of this work is Pastor Jay Gooding, who does community relations for SUV. While SUV has helped reduce gun violence in the northeast Bronx, the pastor has seen his share of parents who have lost children at his church, Miracle Revival Center on Macombs Road.
According to Gooding, there’s no panacea for the gun violence, but organizations like SUV do their best to be out in the community and make a difference.
“Even though the faces have changed, the commitment has remained the same,” he explained. “Statistics don’t show the work these guys are doing.”
While Gooding understands that many people suffer from mental illnesses, like Fernandez, he feels a lot of gun violence could be prevented if the city provided the Bronx with more safe spaces and better funded schools.
As a parent, the shootings plaguing the city and borough concern him deeply.
“There is a lack of resources for young people, especially here in Bronx County,” he said. “That’s why I’m grateful for people like Nathalia Fernandez.”
The pastor stressed that the recent stretch of gun violence is alarming and he hasn’t’ seen anything like it in a long time. He is friends with Eve Hendricks, who 17-year-old son Brandon was murdered last summer.
Gooding noted that when a husband or wife passes away the other becomes a widow and a child becomes an orphan when a parent dies. However, there is no word to describe when someone loses their son or daughter.
“Too many times I’ve had to sit with parents in the midst of their pain,” he said.