Recently several community residents from East Flatbush, Canarsie and parts of Central Brooklyn made their way through the blistering cold evening to continue to draw attention to gun violence within their communities at the Tropical Breeze Hall, on Utica Avenue in Brooklyn. The signs and symbols of the holiday season were reflecting that Christmas was highly visible, and the children and parents attending the event were in full blast with the Christmas music, various kinds of foods, and all kinds of toys and games, but in the midst of this festivity there were also moments of somber reflections as community advocate, Monique Chandler-Waterman and some parents, all used the opportunity to express the effect that gun violence was having on the communities, especially for those who have lost loved-ones as a result of spiking violence.
Ms. Chandler-Waterman noted that gun violence has seriously impacted the communities and their efforts for the evening’s event was bringing more attention to the violence. Taking it to the forefront to let everyone become more aware and give their support to families of victims. The umbrella organization, Mothers for Safe City, had its representatives on site supporting the work. “Take back their children from the streets,” stated Natasha Christopher, of Akeal Christopher Community Center, in a call to parents. Christopher lost her son to gun violence when he was 14 years old. Ms. Christopher stated that the “impact is even more severe during this time of the year.” She noted that gun violence was on the rise in the community, and that mental health illness was contributing to the rise in gun violence.
The event was also organized to help support parents and children living in shelters and those living in temporary housing. Maxine E. Lewis, a mother who lost her 16-year-old child to gun violence and was representing the Carlton Locksley Bennett Foundation, feels that the celebration during the evening was one way to give the children the opportunity to express joy and to demonstrate that the holiday season does reflect on a time of peace and not the sound of guns. Both Ms. Christopher and Ms. Lewis mentioned that the stop the violence campaign wass to show that the community cared about the children.
New York State Assembly Member, representing the 58th Assembly District, in Brooklyn, Nick Perry called once again for those attending to get vaccinated to help fight against the COVID-19. The Assemblymember said that taking the vaccination was significant and added to the safety of the communities. Perry also joined the call for the stop of gun violence in the neighborhood. “We need you to help us see the gun violence go away,” the Assemblyman said. “Join with those fighting and put guns away,” he said.
Hundreds of toys were given to the children attending the event and in full support for the stop of gun violence and to help support the children were over 20 local businesses and community organizations all joining forces to fight and put the violence away disseminating information on health and educational resources to benefit residents of the communities.