2008-05-30 / Community

All-Star Project Demands Rockaway Trauma Center

By Howard Schwach

Brandon Bethea, top row, left, with her dance troupe at an All-Stars talent show. Brandon Bethea, top row, left, with her dance troupe at an All-Stars talent show. The All-Stars Project, an anti-violence program that focuses on teen development, has asked Mayor Michael Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly to visit Rockaway and to provide a number of services that the project believes will help stem the tide of gun violence on the peninsula.

The group, which includes 100 young people from Rockaway and other minority neighborhoods, met with political and religious leaders on the steps of City Hall on Wednesday to make their demands known.

"We are all active in the All-Stars Project, where we are taking responsibility for our growth and development," the organization said in a letter to Bloomberg. "But you are responsible for providing the basic needs and services in our communities."

Among the "essential services" that Rockaway needs, according to the project, are:

An indoor gymnasium and recreation center. The Redfern Houses Community Center was recently closed due to budget problems;

A trauma center for St. John's Episcopal Hospital. "Trauma centers are important when treating gunshot wounds," the letter states;

Faster ambulance service;

Better police-community relations. The letter chides the police for giving too many trespassing summonses in the Redfern Houses and in other pubfrom lic housing complexes on the peninsula. "If, for example, you visit your aunt in another building and she asks you to go to the store, the police assume you are trafficking drugs. You are interrogated and get a ticket for trespassing. Tickets for trespassing are given out a lot," the letter to the mayor asserts;

More streetlights; More benches for people to sit on;

More youth programs;

Parenting classes for pregnant teens; and

More jobs and better training. "Fifteen and sixteen-year-olds are not able to get jobs," the letter says. McDonald's and retail stores have a 17- or 18-year-old requirement."

The All-Stars Project has drawn lots of attention in recent years, first for sponsoring a show for schoolchildren that posited that the Jewish community caused the Crown Heights riots, and then for its affiliation with its past president, Lenora Fulani, who has recommended that minority voters have more weight given to their votes that non-minority voters.

Brandon Bethea, the 15-year-old girl who was shot accidentally while she danced outside a building at Redfern on May 17, was a member of the organization and danced in its recent talent shows.

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