2011-12-02 / Letters

Mediating Conflicts At Redfern

Dear Editor,

In your November 12 editorial commentary entitled, “Community Fails To Address Shooting Plague,” you raised several concerns about gun violence on the eastern end of the peninsula, most recently the senseless killings of Patrick Hall and Sean Mack. These acts of violence have many consequences including the victims’ children and families, innocent bystanders and the entire Rockaway peninsula community. One of the ways that our elected officials are attempting to address “black on black gun violence” is through a New York State Senate funded initiative advocated by NYS Senator Malcolm Smith known as SNUG, which stands for guns spelled backwards.

The SNUG initiative is a pilot program that uses a public health approach to reduce gun and gang violence and modeled after the Chicagobased CEASE-FIRE program, a highly successful gun violence prevention program that also acts as a SNUG advisor.

The five basic components of SNUG are: Street Level Outreach; Public Education; Community Mobilization; Faith Leader Involvement; and Law Enforcement. There are 10 SNUG sites operating in “High Crime Districts” throughout New York State and each has shown a reduction of crime and murders in their community, in addition to a saving of tax dollars.

The Far Rockaway SNUG Pilot is specifically focused on the NYCHA Redfern Houses because of its wellchronicled history of gun and gang violence. This was requested by Rockaway Development & Revitalization Corporation (RDRC) which serves as the fiscal manager and contracted entity of record with the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services. As you may be aware RDRC did receive some criticism for agreeing to partner with the King of Kings Foundation (KOK) and Hip-Hop Summit Youth Council (HHSYC) to provide the above-mentioned SNUG services.

Over the past several months the KOK and HHSYC have quietly but effectively begun to mediate conflicts before they become violent, offering jobs, educational opportunities, mentoring and anger management services to help solve a complex problem.

While the SNUG Pilot is in its infancy stage, we are encouraged by our initial results that began on July 17, 2011, the day Ramel Gittens was killed in Redfern Projects; the same week of the official launch of SNUG. Since that murder, we have rolled up our sleeves at SNUG and are proud to report that, as of November 28, there have been 134 straight days without a homicide thanks to the residents of Redfern, Redfern

Tenants Association,

NYCHA, the 101

Precinct, PAL, the 101 Precinct Community Council, local clergy and business leaders. Preventing crime is a job for the “Entire Village.” There are many factors as to why we have crime, ranging from failing schools to a poor economy, but we must continue to work as a team to make this a better peninsula. We all value the services of Law Enforcement, but there has to be a balance and a partnership to make conditions better. Our children must be educated about the dangers of gun and gang violence, as well as why they should respect the law and themselves. We plan to expand to the other five Housing Projects, but only through trust and hard work can we help those that are atrisk, disconnected, formerly incarcerated, or have just given up on the American Dream.

KEVIN ALEXANDER
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
RDRC

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