Steps from where Adetunji Ajakaye was shot and killed on Newkirk Avenue and E. 17th Street last week, neighborhood children and teens, other residents and business owners gripped markers and chalk Friday afternoon to issue a message for a community that saw two murders and two other shootings in less than a week: the violence must stop.
The neighbors drew their messages of hope as part of an “Art Peace” event held by the Flatbush Development Corporation’s Flatbush Youth Council — a new youth leadership group made up of community teens ages 13 and up. The event was held outside the FDC’s office at 1610 Newkirk Avenue, near where Adetunji Ajakaye, 25, was shot and killed while sitting in a car at Newkirk Avenue and E. 17th Street last Wednesday, July 15.
The Art Peace initiative also followed the death of Harold Abodia, who died at Kings County Hospital after being shot in the head at 585 E. 21st Street, by Ditmas Avenue, last Monday, July 13.
Their deaths are part of a series of recent violent crimes in our area, including two men who were shot on Coney Island Avenue last Monday night, a 22-year-old neighbor who was fatally shot in the head on Crooke Avenue earlier this month, and a 33-year-old man who was shot in the head on Flatbush Avenue in June.
The teens joined other neighborhood children, business owners and others to create the messages of peace to display on store windows, as well as on the sidewalk. There were also several message boards for people to share their words of hope for “an end to this senseless violence,” FDC Executive Director Robin Redmond said.
Robin wrote to us that:
Everyone wants to see an end to the violence that is impacting our community. The youth wanted to create an opportunity to give everyone a voice no matter their age, because this is effecting everyone, the young and the old. As people pass the Art Peace displays we hope they see that others in the community carry the same feelings of hope, and that the message to the perpetrators is that the violence must end now.
Keith Rogers, who leads the Flatbush Youth Council, told us that, “everyone has noticed there’s been a lot of shootings, and they wanted to do a peace rally.
“Most of them live in this area, and they feel like enough is enough,” Keith said.