2012-07-27 / Top Stories

Local Pols Opposed To Gun Violence

What To Do About Too Many Guns Is The Question
By Howard Schwach

A Wave Analysis

Most of the local politicians have chimed in on the issue of gun violence in the Rockaway community with the emphasis on stating unequivocally that they are opposed to it.

That’s a little like saying you are in favor of the Fourth of July, apple pie and baseball.

Of course, addressing those things is easy: celebrate the Fourth, eat some apple pie and go watch a baseball game.

Doing something about gun violence in Rockaway is a much tougher issue, and our politicians, particularly those who are minorities, seem to be split in two on the issue.

On one hand, they want the police to do more to stop the violence and demand better coverage of minority communities.

On the other hand, they hold marches and make speeches about how badly the police treat young minority men, the perpetrators of about 75 percent of the crime in New York City, according to statistics released earlier this year.

Take Congressman Gregory Meeks. Last week, he held a rally against gun violence in Southeast Queens.

“So far this year, there has been a 100 percent increase in three Queens precincts,” Meeks said. “Youth violence is pervading the everyday lives of our families and our communities, resulting in injury and death, retaliatory violence and instability. Today, as a community, we plan to come together to focus on additional ways we can address the needs of young people who may be disenfranchised and disconnected from the economic mainstream.”

So Meeks understands that youth violence (he never uses the term “gun violence”) is a problem.


Because “young people are disenfranchised from the economic mainstream,” which roughly translates into, they can’t get a job because they don’t have an education.

Meeks has been saying that for years.

A few years ago, along with State Senator Malcolm Smith, he started Operation SNUG (guns written backward), a program that hired former federal drug felons to talk to kids about drugs and guns.

Has gun violence been reduced during the period that Operation SNUG has been popping millions into the pockets of those former addicts? Statistics show that it has not been reduced a wit. In fact, after a reduction in the violence for a few years, it is higher than ever, police say. In the 101 Precinct in Far Rockaway, for example, there were 16 murders in 1993, six in 2001, eight in 2011 and now three so far this year. Gun events and shootings where nobody is killed are way up, and have been rising for the past two years.

City Councilman James Sanders Jr., who will soon be term-limited and will run against Michele Titus, whom many call “The Invisible Woman” for obvious reasons, for her Assembly seat.

It is hard to pin Titus down on any contentious issue because she operates on the apparent theory that if you don’t say anything or do anything, nobody can be angry at you. Sanders, however, is right up there in decrying stop and frisk activities against young black men at the same time he is demanding better police protection.

He also took Queens District Attorney Richard Brown to task for not having a sufficient number of gun buy-back programs when he knows very well that gun thugs and gangbangers don’t turn their guns in at programs such as that.

A few years ago, in the wake of a spate of gun murders in Far Rockaway, Sanders and his aide, Donovan Richards, held a march not to decry the murders and the gun violence, but to call for police to show more respect for young black men.

Last week, Sanders and NAACP President Ed Williams held a march in Far Rockaway to decry the death of a black teen who was killed while riding his bike on Beach 29 Street.

How many marches does that make?

At least a dozen over the last ten years, and yet nothing happens to change the situation. It’s easy to march, much harder to do something.

Smith recently called for three elements that he believes will cut gun violence: Devote a portion of each week from now until the end of the summer in houses of worship, condemning the gun and gang violence; participating in a citywide day of prayer and fasting on the first and last weekends of August; and having church people serve as an annex to the police department so that individuals who see something can go to them rather than to the police.

Snitches get stitches and wind up in ditches, even if the snitching is to a man of God, as the saying goes.

Earlier in the month, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly finally had enough with the politicians who want more police coverage yet call for the police to stay away from black teens.

“I ask you, who are the political leadership that are all too willing to talk about these issues, but are really shockingly silent when it comes to the level of violence in their own communities.”

Sanders took him to task immediately.

“I’m puzzled by the commissioner’s bizarre statement,” Sanders said. “I cannot help but wonder if he is paying attention to what people are actually saying about stop and frisk. Perhaps if the commissioner had his ear to the ground, he would hear the anguished cries of the parents who have lost children and would push for a renewed sense of cooperation between community and police, rather than advancing divisive tactics that have been wholly ineffective in curtailing gun violence.”

Like Meeks, Sanders has an idea of why the violence exists. Where Meeks believes it is lack of jobs, Sanders believes that it is lack of respect for the police because of the stop and frisk program as well as the lack of gun buyback programs. Notice that neither blames the gun thugs themselves or the culture of gangsterism that pervades the public housing complexes that dot the peninsula or the gang culture that sprouts violent gangs such as GIB, Gang of Apes, 40’s Boyz and a myriad of other such gangs. Until they realize where the problem really lies, they will be unable to help their community to rid itself of gun violence.

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