Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams on Tuesday joined New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) residents, violence interrupters and elected leaders to heighten his call to combat the root causes of gun violence and the chronic disrepair of public housing amid a spike in shootings targeting young people at public housing developments in Brooklyn.
They gathered outside Fiorentino Plaza, a complex in East New York where 16-year-old Cahlil Pennington was fatally shot last Tuesday afternoon.
Adams, a 22-year veteran of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and longtime anti-violence advocate, spoke about urgent actions that are needed on the local and national level to address the gun violence epidemic.
Joining him were Assembly Member Latrice Walker, Council Member Adrienne Adams, Council Member Darma Diaz, members of the Fiorentino Plaza Tenant Association, Man Up! Inc. Founder A.T. Mitchell, and Community Capacity Development Executive Director K Bain.
Pennington was one of three young people shot outside NYCHA developments in Brooklyn within a six-day span.
On Friday afternoon, a 16-year-old girl, Kyla-Simone Sobers-Batties, was shot in the head outside Gowanus Houses, and taken to the hospital in critical condition.
Early Sunday morning, a 22-year-old man was fatally shot in the lobby of Albany Houses in Crown Heights.
During the press conference, Adams, the Democratic Party nominee for Mayor of New York City, emphasized the point that disinvestment in public housing and broader neglect by all levels of government lead to disorder.
He highlighted, as an example, the fact that the scaffolding around Fiorentino Plaza has been up for years, which has led to quality-of-life issues for residents.
“Our city, state and federal governments have failed NYCHA residents for too long,” Adams said. “That failure has led to the current public health and safety crisis we’re seeing.
“It is completely unacceptable that three young people have been shot — two fatally — in a six-day span outside NYCHA facilities,” he added. “Our government’s neglect for public housing is literally costing lives.”
Adams said he has “a clear plan to reduce gun violence by building up our entire ecosystem of public safety while making proactive, upstream investments in NYCHA.
“I thank my colleagues in government, violence interrupters and NYCHA residents for standing with me,” he said.
Adams called for a number of steps to end the cycle of disinvestment and disorder: Address the root causes of gun violence; build a Joint Guns and Gangs Task Force to coordinate local, state, and federal law enforcement activity; invest in precision policing; rebuild our plainclothes anti-crime unit as an anti-gun unit; and crack down on illegal gun trafficking, focusing on handguns.
Other steps include: Fully fund THE City’s Crisis Management System; Push for more proactive investments in NYCHA; push the city and state to commit funding to urgently-needed capital repairs; promote the sale of NYCHA’s air rights through the land use process, as Adams did in his Gowanus rezoning recommendation; and pass the federal infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better plan at the federal level.