2006-12-22 / Editorial/Opinion

Opinions Add Cedric Smalls, Laton Spurgeon To Last Week’s List

Add Cedric Smalls and Laton Spurgeon to the list that includes Christopher Glenn, Mario Young, Ocie Johnson and Latina Bidrow. Those young Rockaway residents have the dubious distinction to be victims of homicide this year. Smalls, 18, and Spurgeon, 25 are the latest victims. Smalls was shot while standing near a fence in front of 81-03 Beach Channel Drive in the Hammel Houses last Friday night. Spurgeon was killed outside 407 Fernside Place in Wavecrest. His brother was arrested for taking part in the shootout with the man who shot Laton. Police say the two are unrelated. You might says that these are just another two Rockaway murders, the latest in a long line of Rockaway murders, but these seem to be subtly different. People are angry. Not the politicians and activists, mind you. You will probably not see people such as Al Sharpton, James Sanders and Malcolm Smith taking to the streets because of these two deaths. The politicians seem only to be motivated by television cameras and there are no cameras for Smalls or Spurgeon, just as there were none for Glenn, Young, Johnson and Bidrow before him. Rather, the people who live in Rockaway, particularly those who live in our housing projects, with an everyday promise of violence, are angry and they tell The Wave that they are not going to take it any more. They are angry and they are scared. Taking on the local gunmen can be a very scary proposition for somebody who lives in close proximity to those gunmen or their relatives and who have kids who are at risk every day. We got a number of calls on Monday asking for our help in eradicating the gun problem in Rockaway. Each of the calls was from parents of young children or teenagers. One of them was typical and heart-wrenching. The mother of an 11-year-old child said that her son witnessed the shooting and now is afraid to go outside the building. “We are prisoners in our own apartments,” she said. “We are tired of them shooting our kids.” Just as typical was the response when we asked her to get involved. “I work twelve hours a day to keep us alive,” she said. “I don’t have time for anything else.” And, she added, “Everybody is afraid to get involved. The relatives of the shooters might live in this building. It is too dangerous.” Another mother told us that she does not allow her children to look out the window because she is afraid that a random shot will hit one of them. That is no way to have to live. City Councilman James Sanders said on Tuesday that he has a plan to stop the violence that he would reveal at a meeting today, Friday, December 22. Liz Bishop-Goldsmith is the local president of Mothers Against Guns. She knows all too well about the problem and wants to spread the organization from its mainland base to Rockaway. We urge anybody who is as fed up as we are about the gun violence on the peninsula to contact her at 718-276-5802. If our politicians and the NAACP refuse to do anything about the spate of gun violence, perhaps it’s time for a grass roots movement on the part of Rockaway residents who are fed up with shooting outside their apartments each day.

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