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‘Why are we left out?:’ Canarsie community fights for anti-violence funding

jibreel jalloh in suit at canarsie anti-violence rally
Canarsie residents and community organizations are demanding that Mayor Eric Adams fully fund community-based anti-violence programs in the neighborhood.
Courtesy of The Flossy

The Flossy Organization, a Canarsie advocacy group, is demanding that Mayor Eric Adams fully fund a community-based anti-violence site within the 69th precinct, claiming “it’s long overdue.”

The organization’s president, Jibreel Jalloh, feels the city has left Canarsie out of their anti-gun violence initiatives — and says Adams has the power to give them the help they need. 

“[Adams] is the one that came into office talking about ‘intervention and prevention.’ He said that we need both,” Jalloh said. “He announced gang take-downs [but] we know we can’t arrest our way out of this issue. But the disappointing part really is that you have a community calling for specific initiatives that the mayor himself champions.”

canarsie residents at rally hold signs that say "cure violence now" and "why are we left out?" at antiviolence rally
Some Canarsie residents say they’ve been left out of the city’s anti-gun violence initiatives, even as the neighborhood grapples with repeated incidents of shootings. They’re urging Mayor Eric Adams to fully fund community-based anti-violence centers in the area. Courtesy of The Flossy Organization

Adams visited the neighborhood last week to tout the accomplishments of the New York City Police Department’s Gun Violence Suppression Division, which he said is “laser focused” on targeting and arresting “trigger pullers,” individuals who carry out shootings. The Gun Violence Suppression Division has been a key part of a recent decrease in gun violence in the city, Adams said.

“We’re decreasing shootings, we’re taking bad guys off the streets, and we’re going to create a safe city in the process,” Adams said at the June 6 press conference. “And so I’m proud of the men and women who are part of this unit that are going after those small number of people that are driving crimes in this city.”

Days later, another community member, Isaiah Bowman, was killed due to gun violence — one day before Flossy held a ‘Stop the Violence’ rally on June 12 at the Canarsie L train. Still reeling from the loss, neighbors gathered to denounce violence and demand the government to fully fund their anti-violence movement — something Jalloh said they have been fighting for for months. 

“This push for Cure Violence in Canarsie we’ve been pushing since December, we came out after Jamir Jones was shot at Bay View Houses and passed tragically to his wounds,” said Jalloh. “People are still dying and there’s no sense of urgency from the city.”

Cure Violence is a community-based anti-violence method, where “violence interrupters,” rather than police,  deescalate potentially violent situations, step in to the aftermath of violence to prevent those involved from continuing the cycle, and form connections in the community to address the root causes of violence and change cultural norms and behaviors.

Former mayor Bill de Blasio announced the expansion of the community safety program known as Crisis Management System, but that also left part of Canarsie out, Jalloh said.

“The saddest thing you’ll see there if you go down to Canarsie, you’ll see literally the borders of Canarsie, to the east and to the north, are lined out. East New York is covered, Brownsville is covered, east Flatbush is covered. Those precincts are covered but Canarsie is not,” he told Brooklyn Paper. “Why do these neighboring communities that feel the same type of gun violence have this coverage but we’re lined out? Why are we left out?”

Map of CMS anti-violence coverage
A map shows the coverage of the Crisis Management System in Brooklyn. NYC Office to Prevent Gun Violence

CMS, a program supported by a $36 million investment from the Administration and the City Council, deploys teams of ‘violence interrupters’ to engage with individuals deemed most likely to be involved in gun violence. 

According to the NYC Office to Prevent Gun Violence, data from 2010 to 2019 shows there has been a 40% reduction in shootings across all areas with the CMS program present. 

“If you look at the facts that neighboring communities with similar demographics, and the similar pain of gun violence have these programs and it’s on the city website that it’s a proven website,” he said. “The question really is ‘what’s the hold-up?’ Why has it taken so [many] years for us to get a fully funded site?”

New York City allocated $145 million for anti-gun violence programming in the current fiscal year, and plans to increase that funding to $152 million for Fiscal Year 2023. This year, the Office of Neighborhood Safety expanded their CMS programs into eight precincts, the 69th Precinct, according to the Mayor’s office, as well as 4 hospitals and 61 schools citywide.

“We need to dam the many rivers that lead to the sea of gun violence,” said Jonah Allon, Adams’ deputy press secretary. “That’s why Mayor Adams has made clear that we need to invest in both prevention and intervention. CMS programs are an integral part of the administration’s holistic approach to public safety, a strategy that is already bearing fruit and that have helped lead to a decrease in shootings over the last few months.”

The mayor also recently announced a new Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, headed by A.T. Mitchell, founder of anti-violence organization “Man Up!,” Allon said. That task force will work to improve coordination between government and CMS programs, bolster the work done by those programs, and develop solutions to “stem the tide” of gun violence.

“These, along with investments in precision employment programs and other services, will unlock long-term public safety for communities that have borne the brunt of this gun violence crisis,” Allon said.

Saddened what he feels isn’t enough for Canarsie, Jalloh and his team are continuing to host community events and demand funds from Adams. 

“Why do you come to a community calling for this program to be fully funded but you don’t respond, you just come with more of the arrests and imputative measures but you don’t bring the community center solution,” said Jalloh. “We’re demanding Mayor Adams to finally make the announcement to release the funding so we can get a fully funded Cure Violence site in Canarsie.”

Update June 15, 2022, 11:40am: This story has been updated to include comment from the Mayor’s office.

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