Coney Island

Amid spike in Coney Island shootings, state directs $250k to anti-gun violence orgs

November 6, 2019 Kelly Mena
Brother Ron of Step Up Coney Island alongside State Sen. Diane Savino (r). Eagle file photo by Kelly Mena

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Anti-violence initiatives in Coney Island are receiving $250,000 in state funding that elected officials hope will address an uptick in gun violence in the beachside community.

The southern Brooklyn neighborhood has had 12 shooting incidents in 2019, up from just three last year — and five murders compared to none in 2018, according to NYPD data.

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State Sen. Diane Savino and City Councilmember Mark Treyger, who both represent the area, announced the allocation of state money for the Coney Island Anti-Violence Collaborative, a coalition of residents, business owners and organizations working together to end gun violence on the peninsula.

“This is a systemic issue across Coney Island and across our entire country,” Savino said. “Gun violence is affecting people from all walks of life and it needs to stop.”

The funding comes from the state’s SNUG Neighborhood Violence Prevention Program, which supports gun violence reduction initiatives by sending intervention specialists to an area immediately after a shooting. SNUG programs aim to prevent retaliation, and also connect high-risk youth with services and programs. The 2019 budget included more than $4.8 million for SNUG, and this is the fourth year Coney Island Anti-Violence Collaborative is getting funding through SNUG.

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“Because of this funding, all of our members have now received extensive trauma training and have been certified as first responders to violence,” said Keisha Boatswain, executive director of Coney Island Anti-Violence Collaborative, told the Brooklyn Eagle.

The grants will go toward continuing the efforts of community-based organizations including Operation Hood and Step Up Coney Island, which take a proactive role in the community by working with high-risk youth.

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“Growing up here in Coney Island, I lost many of my young friends who were victims of gun violence. So that made me very committed to saving the younger generation, who shouldn’t experience what I experienced,” said Brother Ron of Step Up Coney Island. “A lot of people say, well, we’re a small community here in Coney Island and places like Brownsville and East New York and Crown Heights have more crimes and more gun violence than you do. But if we have one person that is shot, that’s too many for us.”

The neighborhood’s increase in shootings is an outlier in the Brooklyn South police command, where shootings overall are down 63 percent as of Nov 3. Citywide, the number of shootings is about the same as it was in 2019, but the number of victims is up. That’s driven in part by a spate of mass shootings in other parts of Brooklyn.

Two mass shootings occurred over the summer — one in Crown Heights in which four people were killed and three injured, and one in Brownsville in which one man was killed and 11 others were injured.

Nearly a month ago, a shooting inside an unlicensed gambling club in Crown Heights left another four people killed and three injured.

All three are part of the Brooklyn North police command, which has seen an increase in shooting incidents of 33 percent.

According to Treyger, the funding is part of a larger city and state effort to reduce violence in the borough. The southern Brooklyn lawmaker said that the city is set to also announce a similar funding package in the coming weeks.

“Soon we will discuss the city’s portion at an event that will go toward these folks as well,” Treyger said.

Correction (Dec. 11 at 4:30 p.m.): A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the number of shooting victims doubled over the last year in Brooklyn North. The Eagle regrets the error.


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