By Charles Hynes
Brooklyn District Attorney
In 1994 I launched my office’s Gang Bureau, which has worked tirelessly with the New York City Police Department and Brooklyn community to prosecute and prevent gang violence. Gangs continue in their attempts to recruit new members to their criminal enterprise in schools and in our neighborhoods.
It is my firm belief that one way of addressing this problem lies with the education of our youth. My office conducts gang awareness workshops throughout the year at PTA and community board meetings, as well as at houses of worship and other community-related organizations. As part of our Legal Lives curriculum which addresses gang awareness and prevention, we recently introduced a former gang member to speak to a class at P.S. 94 in Sunset Park. Presentations by former gang members who have lived the lifestyle in question make a significant impact on the children in attendance.
Our most recent speaker, David Hope, discussed the consequences of being in a gang for him which resulted in incarceration, being shot and left unable to walk for the rest of his life. The fifth graders who heard Mr. Hope’s story listened intently and learned how Mr. Hope’s journey lead him to dedicate his life to working with different organizations to share his experience, strength and hope to steer our youth away from forming gang affiliations.
Mr. Hope told the students that they should focus on their studies, listen to their parents and avoid peer pressure. After his presentation students asked questions. The feedback from the children was very positive. To watch a video from this event please visit my website at www.brooklynda.org.