A group of Queens lawmakers are making sure the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. birthday is filled with action honoring King’s legacy of non-violence as well as the usual speeches of remembrance and vision of a brighter future.
The action is the ninth anniversary of LIFE Camps, Peace Week celebration, which was kicked off yesterday on the steps of City Hall in Lower Manhattan on King’s birthday.
The city and several city-funded non-profits are sponsoring events throughout the week centered on non-violence throughout communities of color. Not mentioned or included and glaringly missing among the various non-profits that are participating is the Brooklyn-based organization, The James E. Davis Stop Violence Foundation, which deserves credit as being the first organization in the city and one of the first in the country to address black-on-black crime.
Among the elected officials from Queens for the kickoff were City Council Members Adrienne Adams (D-Jamaica, Richmond Hill, Rochdale Village, South Ozone Park), Donovan Richards (D-Arverne, Brookville, Edgemere, Far Rockaway, Laurelton, Rosedale, Springfield Gardens) and I. Daneek Miller (D-Cambria Heights, Hollis, Jamaica, St. Albans, Queens Village, Springfield Gardens) along with Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.
Miller and Adams discussed the racial and ethnic factors come into play when discussing gun related crimes. “Our children are not animals. We are painted with a brush like no other community in the world is painted because of the color of our skin, and it is wrong,” said Adams.
Richards applauded the work that was done in his own district in Edgemere. “Almost 600 days of no shooting in Edgemere, for anybody that knows about Edgemere Far Rockaway, there would have been something that says hell has definitely frozen over, but it is because of the work of the people on the ground.”
To further build on the violence prevention and intervention strategies implemented in NYC, the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice and the NYC Crisis Management System (CMS) will launch Mobile Trauma Units (MTU) in each borough.
The mobile trauma unit is designed to reach larger target areas and a wider audience who have a propensity for violent activity and a need for services. The unit aims to, “deploy teams of credible messengers who mediate conflicts on the street and connect high-risk individuals to services that can reduce the long-term risk of violence.”
CMS offers several supportive services including School Conflict Mediation, Employment Program, Therapeutic Mental Health Services, Legal Services, and the Anti-Gun Violence Employment Program.
Co-founders of Peace Week, Erica Ford and Andre Mitchell, came out to describe their past work and future goals for lowering violence in the city.
“We want to continue to make peace a lifestyle. To bring the numbers down a record lows, as we did when there was an entire weekend in 2018 when not one gun went off,” said Ford. “When there was six days in New York City last year when no murders took place. To save a life is to change the dynamic of communities.”
“We want to make sure that we have peace of mind and body and soul. With that I mean you need to understand that the investments that you’re making in the people that you see standing alongside and behind me is a worthwhile investment.” added Mitchell as he addressed the activists who stood holding up orange #PeaceIsALIFEstyle poster boards.
Ford and Mitchell also explained the importance of engaging neighborhood youth and getting victims of violence involved in counseling.
Key events for the 9th Annual #PeaceWeekNYC include:
- Press Conference + Proclamation Presentation at New York City Hall
- #PeaceWeekNYC School Challenge
- Forgiveness Dinner (invite only- for parents who’ve lost their children to senseless gun violence)
- Open dialogue among men, women and children to help restore the family unit impacted by violence
- “Ballin for Peace” Basketball Tournament