City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Members Jumaane D. Williams and Fernando Cabrera, co-chairs of the City Council Task Force to Combat Gun Violence, honored 13 cure violence providers during the Council’s Stated meeting on June 21.
“Gun violence is a nationwide epidemic that has resulted in thousands of lives needlessly lost each year. This is a tragedy not only in scope, but also in principle: these deaths are preventable. That is why we are taking these very important steps to combat gun violence through our Crisis Management System,” Mark-Viverito said.
“I am proud to join my fellow Council Members and co-chairs of the Task Force to Combat Gun Violence, Jumaane Williams and Fernando Cabrera, to honor the 13 Cure Violence providers today,” she added. “We look forward to continuing our work with partners and advocates in our communities to end gun violence once and for all.”
Williams said that, in September 2011, the New York City Council created the Task Force to Combat Gun Violence as a response to a series of shootings around New York City.
A report emerged from the Task Force that recommended the creation of the Crisis Management System (CMS), which is a model designed to provide an immediate, coordinated response to gun violence that aids in victim and community recovery while preventing future violence, Williams said.
He said the proclamations were presented to the cure violence providers on the first day of summer, a time when historically gun violence peaks.
“Since its creation, the crisis management system has driven down shootings in all of our catchment areas, community-based violence interrupters have created a culture of peace, while anti-gun violence programs have given our young people alternative methods to express themselves,” Williams, who represents the 45th Council District in Brooklyn.
“I’m pleased to have the opportunity to honor them because they are on the front lines every day in this battle against gun violence,” he added. “For too long, the sole approach we’ve used in addressing public safety was to send in more police officers into the community. The success of these groups proves that this is not the only workable solution.”
“I’m proud of the work that B.R.A.G. (Bronx Rises Against Violence) has done in my district. B.R.A.G. has had one of the lowest numbers of shooting incidents and shooting responses to incidents in the city, and the number of shooting incidents during Fiscal Year 17 was near zero,” Cabrera said.
“B.R.A.G. has reached more than 2000 residents in my district, engaging the community in dialogue about the root causes of violence and working to change the norms and behaviors that encourage, condone and reward violence,” he added. “As co-chair of the Task Force to Combat Gun Violence, I can say with great confidence that making the Cure Violence program the centerpiece of our strategy was the right decision.”
Williams said the system employs cure violence providers in high-risk communities to identify and engaged individuals most likely to be involved in gun violence.
He said the providers deploy “violence interrupters,” who are usually former gang members, to intervene in disputes between community members before incidents escalate to gun violence.
Williams said although the City has seen record lows in gun violence over the past year, violence remains concentrated in select areas of the City.
He said these communities typically have high unemployment, and are plagued with social and health disparities.
On Jun. 2, representatives from the cure violence providers across the City convened to launch the start of Gun Violence Awareness month during a press conference hosted by Williams and the Gun Violence Awareness Month Coalition.
He said Gun Violence Awareness Month was created “in an effort to raise awareness surrounding the issue of needless and senseless gun violence in New York’s communities.”
The goals of Gun Violence Awareness Month are: To promote greater awareness about gun violence and gun safety; to concentrate annual heightened attention to gun violence during the summer months, when gun violence typically increases; and to bring citizens and community leaders together to discuss ways to make our communities healthier, Williams said.
He said the de Blasio administration and the City Council have continued to invest in CMS and anti-gun violence initiatives, noting that on Feb. 3, the Mayor and the Council announced the creation of the Mayor’s Office to Prevent Gun Violence, which is being housed within the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice.
The new office was expected to create and expand violence intervention strategies across the city. Legislation to codify the office into law was introduced in February.