Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Addressing Youth Violence

Today has been dominated by Crown Heights. I started the morning at the New School, where the Center for New York City Affairs hosted a talk by David Kennedy. Kennedy was followed by a panel on combating youth violence that featured Reean Charles from our YO S.O.S. project. While the subject of the event was grim (the overlapping problems of excessive violence and incarceration in poor, minority neighborhoods), the mood was anything but. Kennedy offered a shortened version of the argument that he makes in his book Don't Shoot, which details the remarkable work he has done to bring law enforcement and community groups together to deter gun violence. The other panelists, who included city councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito and NYPD assistant commissioner Kevin O'Connor, also offered hopeful notes about a range of efforts currently taking place on the ground with very little fanfare.

This afternoon, I spent a couple of hours at the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center talking with a few of our staff who are working to respond to gun violence in the neighborhood. (For more details of what we are up to, check out "From Chicago to Brooklyn".)  Unfortunately, there have been a couple of shooting incidents in Crown Heights in the past few days, including one involving a relative of one of our outreach workers. As part of our SOS initiative, the Mediation Center responds every time there is a shooting, mobilizing community residents to send the message that violence is unacceptable. Tonight's response starts at 6pm at the corner of St. John's and Kingston.