14 April 8-April 14, 2010 THE NEW YORK AMSTERDAM NEWS Fighting the growing gang violence By ROGER AMARO, their gang membership.” while now, thanks to HCCLC,” lost two children to gun vio- words why writing this article RICARDO AVILES, He adds, “It is difficult for us he adds. lence and believes teens join was important to them. Their ALEXANDRA CANARIO, to stop the phenomenon com- Olivia Henry, a member of gangs for many reasons. “Fear, names have been withheld for SHAKIRAH DAVIDSON, pletely because the Internet HCCLC, says, “I am afraid for lack of self-esteem and desire safety concerns. KEVIN MACK, JR., CYRE has proliferated it.” the young people and how it for affiliation” are among the “Gangs make my communi- MILLER KELLEY, In an effort to curb gang affects my community. Yes, I am biggest causes. ty a sanctuary for young delin- JESENIA MORILLO, involvement, police, parents always in the middle of gang Boyce agrees, adding that quents to prey on innocent TIMESHA NEAL, and community leaders have violence trying to stop it. We go teens at a very young age are bystanders, causing unneces- BRITTANY NELSON, been working separately and out on a daily basis to patrol the looking for their identity, so sary commotion, fear and WANDA RAMIREZ, together. neighborhood around my area. they join gangs “to belong to numerous problems.” MICHAEL RODRIGUEZ Police are trying to get Yes, I think people are afraid of something.” Others, he says, “A lot of teens get assaulted and JEFFREY ROSA these gangs off the street by getting involved in stopping “will do it just to get to school by gang members, and they get Youth in upper Manhattan increasing the influence of gang violence because they safe.” away with it. That has to come feel that gang violence is community leaders. According have the wrong perception Eventually, though, Boyce to a stop. Teens are not proud becoming a growing problem, to Boyce, the Gang Division about young people. Gang vio- says these same teens “find of how the city handles the one that sometimes causes a does trainings and works with lence occurs in my community that it’s usually a dead end.” gang-related crimes.” sense of hopelessness. community groups, communi- every day. My first instinct is to Adams adds, “Young people “One day as I walked out of Stopping inter-gang vio- ty boards and school groups get in between young people [need] positive alternatives to the car with my cousin, we lence has been a constant chal- throughout the city. They also and tell them to go their sepa- become a part of groups that noticed a group of young men lenge for law enforcement. support faith-based initia- rate ways.” promote life, health, love, violently beating on an older Robert Boyce, commanding tives; these initiatives seek Police are not just relying on respect and general well- Mexican man as they robbed officer of the NYPD Gang Divi- out certain clergy to get outside resources, but they being…and to [know] that him for his money, phone and sion, says, “We have to inter- involved and do an interven- also have programs in place for there are positive ways to iPod. I walked away feeling vene and stop gangs that are tion with a family. police intervention as well. achieve their goals.” helpless that I couldn’t do warring against each other.” Pastor Vernon Williams, Boyce says the Gang Division Additional reporting by much to stop any of it and later He notes that this gang president of Harlem Clergy and has a program to “get them to Juan Abreu, Ghianthony Brito, called the police.” activity may touch many areas Community Leader’s Coalition come join and get them on the Estiven Conill, Christopher de “Not too long ago, I was of a youth’s life. “Gang violence (HCCLC), says he is often upset right track, give them some Leon, John Harris, Whitney jumped and almost stabbed to could be at schools,” he says. because the area’s young people supervision and some struc- Johnson, Victor Lebron, Jr., death while coming out of “Some of the schools are more are killing each other. “When ture in their lives. In extreme Miguel Lindsay, Naquan school. I was forced to transfer problematic than others.” gang violence is going on, I situations, we’ll go to the dis- Nash, Jasmine Negron, Janeen schools and make new friends. The Internet is also making stand in the middle of it,” he trict attorney’s office and help Paul, Danisha Reyes, Patricia This all happened because of recruitment and violence easi- says. “Some people are scared of their family get that child out Rivas, Jessica Rodriguez, gang violence; I was confused er for gangs. Boyce says, “We getting involved in the middle of that situation.” Jeuris Sandoval, Tiara Taylor with another person.” have a lot of small gangs pop- of gang violence because of Family and community and Crystal Vargas. “I hope more actions are ping up all over the city and a their personal safety.” involvement are important taken towards gangs because lot of it is fueled by the Inter- He says he believes, though, because teens often have a WHY THE WRITERS even though gangs can’t be net. They’ll go on and repre- that his involvement is making variety of reasons for joining. WROTE THE STORY stopped, they can lower the sent themselves and post a a difference. “I know gang vio- Jackie Adams, co-founder of Here, the story’s writers and level of crimes going on every website, and they’ll declare lence has been quiet for a little Harlem Mothers SAVE, has reporters explain in their own day.” ‘Bird Watching’ Showstopping PAL champs On March 30, 2010, 500 Police Athletic League (PAL) youngsters from throughout New York City participated in a fun-filled day of games and laughter at the Police Athletic League's annual Games Day event at PAL’s Edward Byrne Center in South Jamaica, Queens. Manhattan champions from PAL’s Duncan Center in Hell’s Kitchen, PAL’s Harlem Center, and PAL’s Armory in Washing- ton Heights competed within age groups against their peers from throughout the five bor- oughs. The young people, ages Young people from PAL’s Duncan Center in Hell’s Kitchen per- Some 6,000 New York City school children experienced the 6 to 18, went for the gold in form their tribute to Michael Jackson during PAL’s annual Show- wonders of classical dance and music when the choreographer double Dutch jump rope, bas- stoppers Day. Larry Keigwin, Keigwin + Company and The Orchestra of St. ketball, Connect Four, Brain Luke’s recently staged six performances of a new original work Quest, mancala, pool, Nok Hockey, the PAL Fitness Challenge, Sorry, Candyland, Memory and reflecting the intersection of music and nature at the Tribeca Word Scramble. Performing Arts Center (199 Chambers Street). On April 1, over 400 PAL youngsters took to the stage in a citywide tournament for a day of The work, called “Bird Watching,” was set to Haydn’s Sym- dance, cheerleading and stepping at the Police Athletic League’s annual Showstoppers Day phony No. 6, “Morning.” It was commissioned by the Jerome event. Manhattan champions, ages 6 to 14, competed within age groups in each category while Robbins Foundation as part of the organization’s New Essential paying tribute to the Jackson family, with routines set to hits such as “Stop Pressuring Me,” “Beat Works program. Further funding was provided by the Rockefeller It” and “The Earth Song.” Brothers Fund’s Charles E. Culpepper Arts and Culture Grants. For more information, please visit www.palnyc.org.