Caribbean pols secure ‘pivotal’ grants to combat gun violence

Brooklyn Sen. Roxanne J. Persaud

Three Caribbean-born legislators in Brooklyn said on Thursday that they have secured “pivotal” grants to combat gun violence in the community.

In a joint statement, New York Sen. Roxanne J. Persaud (SD 19), New York State Assembly Member Jaime Williams (59th A.D.) and New York State Assembly Member N. Nick Perry (58th A.D.) announce the securing of “crucial grants” to help combat gun violence in their respective districts.

The legislators said they jointly granted funding to East Flatbush Village, Inc., a community-based organization working to combat gun violence through community outreach, crisis response and youth programming.

“In addition to placing more interrupters in the community to stop senseless gun violence, East Flatbush Village, Inc., will have mentors working with youth age three through 18 on esteem building and healthy self-expression,” the statement said.

“It has been a pleasure to work with Gov. Hochul’s administration to stand up additional violence intervention programs in our district”, said Guyanese-born Persaud.

“This grant for East Flatbush Village, Inc., will fund increased credible messenger and outreach worker presence in ZIP codes with the highest levels of gun violence in Central and South Brooklyn, including Canarsie, East New York and Brownsville,” she added. “Gun violence intervention and prevention saves lives”.

The legislators said the grants totaling over $200,000 will “assuredly assist in the prevention of youth being caught up in gun violence plaguing our great state and city.”

“With shootings rapidly increasing, it is incumbent on those who are elected to help prevent our youth from being caught up in this health crisis of gun violence,” said Trinidadian-born Williams.

“We see it too often: deadly street shootouts, domestic violence killings and suicides and the frequent use of guns being used to solve dispute between neighbors and friends”, said veteran legislator, Jamaican-born Perry. “Too many families have been torn apart by the scourge of gun violence in our neighborhoods. Lives lost, lives ruined, young minds scarred forever.

“It has, therefore, been a priority of mine to work to stem the tide of gun violence by supporting community groups like East Flatbush Village, Inc., that are on the ground, in the streets, doing the work, which makes a positive impact on our community,” he added.

“It has been a pleasure to work with Sen. Persaud and Assemblywoman Williams to secure this needed funding, which, undoubtedly, will help East Flatbush Village, Inc., expand on their vital youth programs and anti-gun violence initiatives, and make our community safer for all,” Perry continued.

Brooklyn Democratic Assemblyman Nick Perry.Photo by Nelson A. King

Eric Waterman, co-founder and executive director of East Flatbush Village, Inc., said: “We are proud to be a trusted community stakeholder to have a great impact to combat gun violence.

“These resources will create opportunities to train staff, provide jobs, enhance community engagement efforts and bolster the wrap-around services we offer to support efforts in reducing gun violence,” he said.

“East Flatbush Village, Inc., staff and board are thankful for leadership of Assembly Member Jaime Williams, Assembly Member Nick Perry and NYS Sen. Roxanne Persaud on this public health crisis that is gun violence”, he added.

The grants come as Brooklyn Borough President and Democratic Mayoral nominee 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.

During the press conference, Adams emphasized that disinvestment in public housing and broader neglect by all levels of government lead to disorder.

“Our city, state and federal governments have failed NYCHA residents for too long,” he 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.”

He 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.

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