'March For Life' On MLK Day To Address Gun Violence
By Miriam Rosenberg
Using Martin Luther King Day as a backdrop, a 'March for Life', starting at the Redfern Housing Development and ending at Hammel Houses will take place Monday in an attempt to bring the community together to stop the gun violence that has plagued the streets of Rockaway during the final weeks of 2006.
Councilman James Sanders Jr. will lead the march that will conclude with workshops to educate adults and young people about the problem.
"We will start at Redfern and end at Hammels, zigzagging through all the housing developments," said Sanders. "We will stop at each housing development where I hope to engage with young people to let them know there is a way out."
After the march, participants will disburse to attend one of three hour-long workshops.
"One workshop will be for young people," continued the councilman.
"Another will help train adults to work with young people and another will be for the faith-based community to learn to work with young people and further engage them in faith-based [activities]."
According to Lisa Emanuel, a liaison for Sanders, the workshops will be "dealing with issues on how to address the current problem and ways to resolve it in the future."
Sanders also said a letter writing campaign would be started.
"It will take all of us to make this happen," concluded the councilman.
The two-hour march begins in front of the Redfern Houses management office at 2 p.m.
Sanders first announced the march at a press conference on December 22 when he made public his anti-violence plan "Stop, the Bleeding, Start the Breathing, Heal the Wounds."
"This is nothing more than the pot boiling for a long time," said Sanders at last month's press conference about the current gun violence.
"There are too many guns, drugs…too many shootings and many not reported. People feel under siege."
Sanders' plan includes putting vocational schools on the peninsula to teach young people a trade, as well as put street workers on the ground to help make peace between warring developments.
"My community and I are fighting a fight that some think we will never win, but I guarantee on this day, with the spirit of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. behind us, that this is only the beginning to end the destruction that comes all too familiar to my neighbors and myself," Sanders told The Wave last week.
With the rise in gun violence during the last few months, Captain Brian McMahon, the commanding officer of the 101 Precinct, told residents last month that gun arrests were up 15 percent for 2006.
He also pointed out that in the month leading up to the December 20 meeting, at which he spoke his officers made five gun arrests in the Refern area alone.
The recent gun violence in Rockaway took the lives of three young men as last year came to a close. Christopher Glenn, 16, Cedric Smalls, 18 and Laton Spurgeon, 28. Last September Mario Young, 16, was also gunned down in Far Rockaway.