The recent increase in violent crime and gang violence was on everyone’s mind at the February 22nd meeting of the 69th Precinct Community Council, held at the Hebrew Educational Society, the first in-person meeting since November 2021.
“Last month was a tough month. We haven’t seen violence like this in a long time,” 69th Precinct Community Council President Gardy Brazela told a packed room of attendees, all wanting solutions. Brazela said he feels positive because the council, civic leaders and elected officials are working hard to curtail the gang situation in Canarsie. They have already held two productive gang violence awareness meetings, and Brazela was happy to share solutions, including funding available to Councilwomen Farah Louis and Mercedes Narcisse to work with gangs.
There are three “hotspots” (areas where crime is high) in Canarsie that everyone should be aware of:
- Bayview Houses
- S. 68 Bildersee
- Breukelen Houses
Brazela said that Paul Curiale, Executive Director of Millennium Development, plans to open the community center at Bayview this week. There will be plenty of activities for young people, including computer classes, arts and crafts, volleyball and soccer. “Police officers have volunteered to interact with the youth,” he said.
At Bildersee, on Flatlands Avenue and East 82nd Street, social workers will be available to work with young people on areas like job development and help them engage in constructive activities.
Brazela introduced the evening’s guest speaker, K. Bain, Founder and Executive Director of Community Capacity Development (CCD) and an expert in gang violence. Bain spoke about an innovative approach to stopping gang violence – a community violence intervention model, based on human justice. “Gangs are units of protection,” he explained. “We have to understand what human needs are not being met by these young people.”
“We don’t focus on bad people; we focus on bad behaviors. Sometimes, kids make poor choices or survival-mode choices. An arrest by law enforcement is the last resort. That means the community has failed. We have to take personal responsibility and shared accountability for stopping gun violence in our community,” Bain said.
He said that faith-based leaders, interrupters and community stakeholders all have a job to do. “We have to re-humanize our young people. CCD is all about intervention and prevention.”
Young people need to understand that every human being has a purpose in life. “Every young person should have a purpose statement, and it’s up to us to educate them. They need to identify their goals and aspiration,” Bain said.
Who are they hanging around with? Bain emphasized the old saying, “Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future.” Last, Bain explained that thoughts are important because they become things; they become reality. “Some of the music they are listening to and the movies they are watching are not productive,” Bain said, stating that by the time a child is in the first grade, they have witnessed 8,000 murders while watching TV and movies.
“Kids need to get around people who have plans and associate with people who know where they see themselves in 10 years,” Bain said.
“We have a lot of work to do. I’m not excusing behavior that is criminal; I’m saying that we have to humanize our youth.”
The next meeting of the 69th Precinct Community Council will be held at the Hebrew Educational Society, 9502 Seaview Avenue, on Tuesday, March 29th at 8 p.m.