Pols denounce recent gun violence in community
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
A group of elected officials that included Borough President Eric Adams and U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries stood on a Coney Island street corner on Sunday to denounce recent episodes of gun violence in the community and to demand more action by police and the city.
“The fact that yet another shooting occurred in the middle of our community during a weekend afternoon is another reminder of the need to make ending gun violence in Coney Island a major priority for our city,” said Councilman Mark Treyger (D-Coney Island-Gravesend-parts of Bensonhurst), who organized a rally on the corner of Mermaid Avenue and West 31st Street to discuss the shooting incidents.
There have been several shootings in Coney Island in recent months, including one that took place in broad daylight at the same location the day before the rally. The Bensonhurst Bean reported that two men were injured when a gunman opened fire. The victims, a 22-year-old man who was shot in the neck, and a 32-year-old man shot in the leg, both survived the shooting.
“We have a crisis that needs to be addressed through better education, job opportunities, security initiatives, expanded community programs and other resources. We must end this epidemic and work towards a better future for our community,” Treyger said, standing with a group of fellow lawmakers that included Adams, Jeffries, Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny and Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-Flatbush), co-chairman of the Task Force to Combat Gun Violence.
Leaders of the Coney Island Anti-Violence Collaborative also attended the press conference.
The idea of the rally was to send a message that the neighborhood will not tolerate acts of senseless violence, Adams said.
“This is a national issue and we need to stop the flood of guns onto our streets. I don’t believe that this is a reflection on the community of Coney Island or Brooklyn. This rally shows that everyday citizens are engaged and coming together to say they don’t accept what happened. This is a signal that Coney Island is not going to accept these acts of violence,” Adams said.
“I applaud Councilman Mark Treyger for trying to bring as much resources as possible from the New York City Council to fight this epidemic of gun violence that has gripped communities like ours. His leadership on the issue is not only appreciated but sorely needed as it will take all hands on deck to deal with the gun violence crisis in Coney Island,” said Mathylde Frontus, founder and executive director of Urban Neighborhood Services and acting chairman of the Coney Island Anti-Violence Collaborative.
During the rally event, Treyger outlined a series of proposals to combat the rising tide of gun violence in communities like Coney Island.
The proposals include:
More police resources, including additional Parks Enforcement Officers dedicated to Coney Island's 2.5-mile boardwalk and amusement area, to relieve pressure off the 60th Precinct and allow its officers to focus on the residential areas. Under the plan, the Police Department would also provide mobile command centers.
A focus by the city and the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) on job creation initiatives for local residents, including using Hurricane Sandy recovery funds.
NYCHA allowing its community centers to be open and accessible from morning to evening for all residents and expanding after-school opportunities for children and teens. Treyger is requesting that NYCHA take inventory of all common and public spaces to determine how they can better be used to benefit residents.
Formation of a neighborhood clergy council to bring together religious leaders from to develop programs and strategies to end the violence.
“We need to show our kids that there is light at the end of the tunnel. We have so many great organizations in Coney Island, and today is a testament to that. As a result, Coney Island is now visible again, but we have to finish the job,” Brook-Krasny said.
"Let’s not accept as fact that just because we are approaching summer, gun violence has to increase. It doesn't," Williams said.
The city should be doing more to bring gun violence to an end, according to Treyger. “The west end of Coney Island has historically been ignored and disrespected and not provided the services needed to break this cycle of violence. The city must recognize this failure and provide the resources needed to keep our residents and streets safe. We can’t just focus on the neighborhood during the summer, when the city reaps the benefits of the amusement area,” he said.