Residents Have Had Enough Of ‘Senseless Bloodshed’ On Brooklyn Streets

At a march against gun violence in 2018. (Photo: Zainab Iqbal/Bklyner)

BROOKLYN – Violence in the borough has increased compared to last year. A one-year-old was murdered at a cookout in July. A 20-year-old tourist was killed by a stray bullet over the weekend. Residents have had enough.

Throughout NYC, 40 people were shot in the last five days. According to AMNY, NYPD detectives believe it is because of a surge in gang violence. Bedford Stuyvesant in particular is home to two precincts; the 79th and 81st. In total, there were 11 murders in Bed Stuy in 2019, according to NYPD data. This year, there have been 13. The number of shooting incidents has doubled, going from 42 last year to 84 this year. The number of shooting victims has also more than doubled, going from 50 in 2019, to 104 in 2020. The numbers were last updated last week.

Borough President Eric Adams told Bklyner, “The uptick in gun violence this year has been devastating to so many communities throughout our borough and city. While no one has been spared from this epidemic, Black and Brown communities have borne the brunt. We must treat this crisis with the level of urgency it deserves.”

On October 24, Bed Stuy residents penned a letter on Change.org to their elected officials asking for fewer photo ops, and more action.

“We are tired of empty rhetoric and an ineffective response to ongoing violence and escalating trauma in our neighborhood. Our section of Bedford-Stuyvesant (particularly in the area of Malcolm X Blvd and Chauncey St in the NYPD 81st Precinct) has been plagued by longstanding feuds between rival gangs and in recent months has been the scene of multiple shootings,” the letter said.

“Just this week a single street corner saw three people shot in two separate incidents – within the span of just nine hours, and with NYPD already on the scene. This comes following a steady stream of other shootings that have happened in the area in recent months.”

“For those directly impacted (your constituents), these avoidable events have changed the course of their lives forever, including lives lost. The indirect impacts to our loved ones, relatives, visitors, and bystanders exposed to the violence and other criminal activities are just as relevant. After a violent incident earlier this week, one neighbor fell while running away from the incident with a three-year-old in her arms,” the letter continued.

“Another neighbor, who is also your constituent, was across the street from a shooting while his daughter was taking tennis lessons in the park. Today, far too many of us in this community are in shock and traumatized, forced to bury our pain to make it through the day. The violence will have a lasting impact on our collective mental health and our dignity as a people. It may also contribute to an economic flight, as those with financial means may decide to move to other communities that feel (and are) safer.”

“Prior interventions such as NYPD spotlights, the short-lived placement of parked police cars and the occasional police patrols have clearly proven insufficient. We demand additional resources and real, permanent solutions to tackle these problems, including the creation of a violence interruption program for our area.  Violence interruption programs such as S.O.S. have a proven track record of reducing violence in other parts of Bedford-Stuyvesant, and these crucial services must be expanded to include our community.”

“One shooting – and one life lost – is one too many. Violence and corresponding gang activity are not normal and should not be normalized by our elected officials. For far too long, the health and safety and trauma of our community has been disregarded, blamed on ‘misguided’ individuals who have been underserved for the entirety of their lives. We, your constituents, are tired of that faulty narrative, and we are committed to holding our elected officials accountable. As our elected representatives, you have an obligation to work with community leaders and other elected officials on behalf of all members of our community to effect real change, starting now.”

Last week, six people were shot and one was killed on Hawthorne Street near Nostrand Avenue in a drive-by shooting. Theodore Senior was the 23-year-old man that was killed. Yesterday, State Senator Zellnor Myrie, who represents NY Senate District 20—which includes Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Gowanus, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, South Slope, and Sunset Park— Tweeted his thoughts on the ongoing violence in Brooklyn. He said he knew Senior because he used to play in the Stop the Violence basketball games in the neighborhood.

“I’ve really been struggling on what to say about the mass shooting that took place in our district last week. Six people were shot; one of them killed,” Myrie said. “When mass shootings happen in whiter, more affluent communities, it grips the nation. When it happens in black communities, it’s seen as endemic and sensationalized… And there are no easy answers. But we will keep trying. It’s not just policing. It’s jobs, education, housing, extracurricular activities, gun industry accountability, real investment for community organizations, community accountability, etc. The alternative is death & trauma.

“We are hurt and traumatized by senseless violence. It is a national emergency. We should treat it as such and we will do everything in our power to end it. We must. Rest In Peace, Theo.”

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Zainab Iqbal

Zainab is a staff reporter at Bklyner who sometimes writes poetry in her free time || zainab@bklyner.com

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