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Fighting the growing gang violence


									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,
                                                                             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

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