‘Bed-Stuy stay alive’: Brooklynites call for a shooting-free summer
"Bed-Stuy is not do or die. We are Bed-Stuy stay alive."
The umbrella group Save our Streets Brooklyn (also called S.O.S. Brooklyn) — which includes S.O.S. Crown Heights and S.O.S. Bed-Stuy — organized the march, calling for a summer free of gun violence. The march also marked the end of gun violence awareness month. Organizers walked from Herbert Von King Park to Restoration Plaza, where they held a rally.
As they walked down Tompkins Avenue in Bed-Stuy, organizers handed out orange towels to residents that said “Walk in Solidarity with Survivors 2019.”
“One thing we’ve noticed is there has been an uptick in Bed-Stuy of shootings and shots fired. We don’t want that. The community doesn’t want it. People want the kids to be able to play outside and be comfortable,” said Tiffany Murray, an organizer with S.O.S. Brooklyn. “Bed-Stuy is not do or die. We are Bed-Stuy stay alive.”
Shooting incidents citywide are slightly up this year, with 336 shootings so far this year as opposed to 322 through the same time last year. But in north Brooklyn, the change has been much more stark. In the 79th Precinct, which serves Bed-Stuy, shootings are up 69 percent so far this year as of June 23.
In the Crown Heights precinct where 11-year-old Jayden Grant was hit by a stray bullet in June on his way home from getting a haircut, shootings are up 114 percent.
Due to the rise in gun violence and murders early in the year, NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill sent an additional eight cops to four different precincts throughout the city, including the 79th Precinct. Murder rates have fallen since March, with the city on pace to have even fewer than in 2018.
Rev. Kevin Jones, the faith-based organizer for S.O.S. Brooklyn, said he visited Grant in the hospital. On his first visit, the boy had no feelings in his legs at all. “The doctors said he may be paralyzed from a bullet that wasn’t even meant for him,” Jones said.
Grant’s grandmother told him later in the week that Grant now has a little feeling in his legs.
Aalayah Eastmond a Brooklyn native and a survivor of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting in 2018, attended Saturday’s march. She said that it is important not to solely focus on mass shootings like the one she survived.
“This hits a lot closer to home — because 16 years ago my uncle, Patrick Edwards, was actually shot and killed here in Brooklyn. I’m actually from here,” said Eastmond, who was in the third classroom into which the shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School fired. She is interning for Gov. Andrew Cuomo before beginning college in the fall.
“We know that gun violence is an epidemic in this country — and we need to make sure that they do not forget that it is still happening on the streets of Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights,” said Assemblymember Tremaine Wright at the rally. Wright, who represents Bed-Stuy and parts of Crown Heights, said legislators need to focus on how illegal guns are trafficked to Brooklyn and end up on the streets.
S.O.S. Brooklyn, the event’s organizer, is a community-based Cure Violence group operating in Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights. They work with high-risk individuals (those at risk of being involved in gun violence) and teach conflict mediation and direct counseling.