Brooklyn’s elected officials rallied this past weekend to stop gun violence and bring more awareness to the lives tragically cut down in recent memory.
New Creations Ministries Inc., backed by Borough President Eric Adams and East Flatbush Village (EFV) youth organization, working with the 70th Precinct Interfaith Clergy Council and joined by the 67th Precinct Clergy Council The God Squad, 69th, and 71st Precincts for the shooting response event called Occupy the Corner against gun violence in Flatbush.
The event started at the entrance to Prospect Park, located at 325 Ocean Avenue, before making a vigil-like pilgrimage of about 20 people to seven different shooting sites in which small candle memorials had been set up. Over the course of the last 10 days, at least 12 shooting deaths have added to the hordes of shootings across the city.
“These seven stops that were made today are stops where the numbers are just horrendous of gun violence,” said Adams in front of the church at the Foster and Ocean Avenue intersection. “I walked these streets in June talking to young people who stated that they don’t have a job, they are not in school. They feel as though the city is leaving them behind.”
EFV Founder Monique Chandler-Waterman said that the youth needs resources. She said gun violence won’t end without sufficient funds to education and youth employment. She said that petty politics need to be put aside.
“We are in a political war just as much as a gang war, and if a trigger is pulled from the politicians and the electeds, higher-ups and the president, no wonder why there’s chaos in our community. We have to get on one page and be united,” said Chandler-Waterman.
Kwinton Tomlinson, a 22-year-old EFV activist, said he was saddened about the heavy gun violence. “People are traumatized from all the gun violence in the community. People are traumatized from the killings on the news,” he said, “You have to wonder what this child has to deal with for the rest of his life.”
Pastor Louis Straker Jr. said that he’s tired and hurt by the constant gun violence. “Look where we have come to in our community that we have to teach 14 and 15-year-olds how to stop the bleed when they should be doing things that kids do. And we’re teaching them how to stop the bleeding from a gunshot or knife wound. Something is wrong,” said Straker.
Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D-Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach, Sheepshead Bay, Homecrest, Midwood) also appeared at the parkside entrance to lend support for stop-the-violence organizations. “You’ve actually gone out and done the work that our elected officials need to do,” said Deutsch. “This is how we teach our future generations, by getting youth involved, and empowering our young people.”
In the shooting death of Deshaun A. Reid, or Shawn Onit, at 395 Ocean Avenue, police said Reid was standing in front of the building when a drive-by silver car pulled up and shots were fired, striking Reid in the chest.
Jordan Michael, nicknamed Paul Pinkney or P. Funk Flip according to his nephew was beloved and will be missed. His nephew, choosing to identify as Champ, said he comes by every day to sweep and tidy up and fix broken candles at the memorial in the park’s gazebo. “It still tears me up every day,” he said of his uncle’s passing.
Police said Michael was a 47-year-old male playing handball when a group of individuals began shooting at a second group. He was shot in the head and pronounced dead at the scene in Flatbush near the Prospect Park entrance memorial of Reid.
Antonio Alexis, or Tony as he was referred to by friends, was an 18-year-old male shot in the head in front of 2116 Regent Place. According to police, two individuals got out of a car and began to shoot at a group that was in front of the building, also hitting a 21-year-old male in the stomach and a 26-year-old male in the knee.
Minister John Williams said youth and gang violence that result in senseless shootings are an equal health crisis. At each site, Williams, the small parade of youth activists, and other clergy members would stop and pray for the fallen individuals.
Councilmember Mathieu Eugene (D-Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Kensington, Midwood, Prospect Park, Prospect Lefferts Gardens) and U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-Central Brooklyn) attended a separate Neighbors Against Violence initiative hosted by Assemblymember Diana Richardson (D-Crown Heights, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, Wingate, Flatbush) and stop-gun-violence groups like Save Our Streets (S.O.S). It was located across the street from Occupy The Corner in front of the Prospect Park entrance and handed out food and drinks to participant marchers.
“This is a crisis in the same way the city and community is facing COVID-19 crisis, this a crisis that has been for so long. And it’s very important that we come together, the same way we come here today, to join forces to fight against gun violence because the people in the community, the children, the parent, the business people, the teacher they deserve to be able to live in a peaceful community,” said Eugene.
Clarke said that she’s unsure of the ultimate cause of gun violence but she knows without access to illegal handguns, it couldn’t happen.
“There’s a real concern that I have about the lack of enforcement in gun trafficking that’s happening across this nation. Chicago is suffering from it, and here we are in New York City, where nowhere near us are guns manufactured, yet they are getting access to these guns,” said Clarke. “We have to rely on law enforcement to do their jobs on one end. On the other end, something is happening in households, in communities, where young people are creating deadly animosity. Whatever it is, we have to do a real investment, if Black Lives Matter, in the resources and making sure these young men have options to turn their lives around.”