Speaker Christine Quinn, elected officials and community leaders are being proactive in stopping gun violence in the wake of a shooting of a four-year-old.
Quinn, who is co-chair of the council’s gun violence task force, held a meeting with community leaders on Thursday, November 10 in Councilman Fernando Cabrera’s office after the shooting of Cincer Balthazar on Tuesday, November 8. The child was shot outside of a shelter on Grand Avenue as a robber tried to steal his coat.
This was followed up with shooting of two innocent bystanders inside the Bronx Lebanon Hospital emergency room on Wednesday, November 9.
Giving Quinn and Cabrera ideas about how gun violence can be prevented were representatives from Community Board 4, Community Board 5, Community Board 7, as well as Deputy Borough President Aurelia Greene, Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club executive director Harold Maldando, and others.
“This issue of crime, violence, and gangs is complicated and we are not going to be able to solve it in one meeting,” Quinn said after the meeting. “But I feel reenergized that we will be able to do something.”
Many ideas for preventing violent crime were discussed. These included increasing police presence, utilizing existing community groups to provide services to young people, creating public and private partnerships, preventing bullying, and fighting cuts to the police department that Quinn said are likely to be proposed in the next month. The roundtable discussion included a number of important observations on crimes where violence is done to innocent bystanders occur.
The shooting of the four-year-old is an economic issue, because it means that someone did not have a coat, said CB 4 chairman Pastor Wenzell Jackson during the discussion.
The diminished manpower of the NYPD is something that can be sensed by gang members, and community policing or blockwatchers cannot be expected to fill the void, said CB 5 district manager Xavier Rodriguez.
The State Liquor Authority should be involved in targeting establishments that sell alcohol and cigarettes to minors, said CB 7 district manager Fernando Tirado.
The borough president is sensitive to the issues of violence that ravage communities, and is now in his second year of his Peace in the Streets Initiative, Greene said.
Also attending the meeting were representatives from Congressman Jose Serrano, Senator Gustavo Rivera, and Assemblyman Nelson Castro. Rivera condemned the shooting, as did Diaz in a statement.
“It is unacceptable that in the past two days, the northwest Bronx has seen two horrific shootings: one of a four-year old boy on Grand Avenue and the other, a shooting of two innocent bystanders inside the Bronx Lebanon Hospital emergency room,” Rivera stated. “I believe we all have the right to feel safe in our homes, safe in our neighborhoods, at our jobs and in community pillars such as Bronx Lebanon Hospital. We deserve better than to live in fear, to fear walking around in one’s neighborhood in the evening or to fear going to a place where you are supposed to be safe, the hospital.”