Community Fails To Address Shooting Plague
Patrick Hall was trying to earn a living for his family, doing a job that should not be considered dangerous, but all too often is, including in Rockaway. He was shot once in the head and killed by a rear-seat passenger in his livery cab in front of 164 Beach 32 Street, at about 7:47 a.m. on November 13. Two hours earlier, in the rear of 520 Beach 19 Street, 21-year-old Sean Mack was shot twice, once in the torso and once in the arm, causing his death. Two homicides in two hours, about one-half mile apart. Nearly every week for the past several months, there has been a shooting incident in the eastern end of the Rockaway peninsula – some weeks, more than one. In the wake of all the shootings, State Senator Malcolm Smith is promoting a gun buyback event – in Brooklyn. What are we, chopped liver? The fact is, Rockaway politicians and would-be politicians are mostly silent on the question of black on black gun violence. A few weeks ago, a new Rockaway teen group issued a call to “Take Back the Neighborhood”; one of the major complaints was police harassment, not gun violence. Where have these teens been all this time? Where are our east end politicians? Where does Smith stand? What has City Councilman James Sanders Jr. done to stop the violence? Where is Assemblywoman Michele Titus, the invisible woman, on this issue? Several years ago, Congressman Gregory Meeks and Smith started an initiative called SNUG. Lots of money went into the program, apparently with little impact, because the shootings keep coming, week after week after week. What can be done? First of all, the community should ask the police to become proactive in taking guns off the street rather than excoriating them for doing so. Secondly, there should be a peer-topeer program in our schools addressed directly at gun violence. Then, there should be stricter laws for those carrying guns and even stricter laws for those using them to commit a crime. The time has come for our black leaders, including those in civic and religious institutions, to stand up and tell their constituents that guns are not the right answer.