2007-02-02 / Community

Low Turnout At Anti-Violence Meeting Doesn't Deter Organizers

By Miriam Rosenberg Contributing Editor

Queen Makkada (right), who says she has helped bring about a renaissance at PS 42, offers her encouragement on how to bring more people into future meetings as the small group listens. Queen Makkada (right), who says she has helped bring about a renaissance at PS 42, offers her encouragement on how to bring more people into future meetings as the small group listens. The organizers of last week's community meeting to address gun violence in Rockaway are not sure why only five people showed up for the discussion, but they have several theories: The weather; a fear of becoming involved, of retribution from those under discussion; numbness to the ongoing violence that continues in Rockaway; or any number of other reasons.

It does not matter to Elder Barrielevia Evans, of the Mt. Carmel Church Ministries on Beach 71 Street, one of the organizers of the meeting that was held at the Macedonia Baptist Church on Beach 67 Street last week, thinks that the important factor is that the meeting was held, not how many people showed up.

The meeting is just one of the results of the gun violence that Rockaway saw at the end of last year, she said, adding, "It takes a tragedy to pull people out. It took an encounter with the NYPD to bring things to light…things that have happened to other kids in Rockaway."

Pastor Barrielevia Evans and his executive secretary Sabrina Johnson listen to the concerns of those who attended the meeting last week. Pastor Barrielevia Evans and his executive secretary Sabrina Johnson listen to the concerns of those who attended the meeting last week. Rodney Tucker, who lives in Queens Village, believes respect is a core issue in driving the violence.

"Children have no respect for themselves, certainly no respect for us," Tucker said. "You can't run up on one of these kids and walk away. He will kill you."

Queen Makkada, who said that she was told it would be impossible to turn PS 42 around, added that she used her experience in bringing about a renaissance at the school to prove the impossible can be done.

"[Next time] each one who comes here brings one [person] more," said Makkada. "This is a commitment. There are some [young people] who really want help, and there is nobody helping them."

One concerned parent, who preferred not to give her name to a Wave reporter, said the time to act is now.

"We turned our heads so much," she said. "There's so many of them now. We can't ignore it."

Evans, who believes a lot of it starts in the home, said it is time for parents to be parents and stop being friends to their children.

"There's a line you don't cross," Evans said. "From the time of birth up to the point of accountability you understand you are a parent, not a thug. You are daddy. You are mom."

There will be monthly meetings of the group and Evans wants to include the young people of Rockaway in the discussion.

"The only way to combat the violence is to invite youth to the table," he told those at the meeting.

One thing everyone agreed on was that they would meet, not just for the sake of meeting.

"It's about our youth, it's about our babies, our families, to find a solution, an answer," concluded Evans.

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