|Eric Adams, Brooklyn Borough President|
Question: The issue of gun violence seems to be getting out of control across New York City, innocent people are losing their lives, for example Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Aide, what do you thing is responsible for this problem and how can it be curbed?
BP Eric Adams: I think that it’s important that we look at the mind set of society where guns are easily accessible and readily available, we really have to focus on that, and when you match that with people believing that the answer to their dispute is to quickly pick up a hand gun that’s readily accessible it only adds to the problem. The name of the game we believe is to look at the underground organizations. The police can only take the battle of gun violence so far. Now we have to go to the crevices of our communities and allow those on the ground organizations like Man Up, SOS, Gangsters Alive in the Hood, Fight For Life, SNUG, all of these organizations that are made up of young people who are on the ground and would like to participate in saving their communities, and saving the lives of young people who are carrying guns and who are the victims of guns. What we are finding is that many of these organizations need the proper funding to go and expand their catchment areas and my call is to the Mayor to allocate an additional 10 million dollars of emergency funding to these organizations so we can focus on the pockets of violence that we have. We’ve done a great job over the years with the over proliferation of hand guns in many parts of the community, but there’s still residue of problem areas, particular around public housing that we really need to focus on and the police are not going to be able to do it on their own, they need the assistance of these on the ground organizations.
Question: What can be done to prevent young people from engaging in Gangs?
BP Eric Adams: I think that it is a combined effort, I don’t think that one group or one person can resolved this problem for our children and the goal I think is, number 1, to encourage our parents to be extremely proactive in identifying when their child or children is participating in the wrong activities or is in the wrong environment. I don’t believe the answer is merely incarceration, I believe it is giving young people opportunities and finding safe spaces for them. One of the most important initiative is, I am in negotiation with City Hall with is to open our school buildings because it is extreme unfortunate that at the end of the school day, we close our school buildings when we can clearly use these structures to allow our young people to have a safe space, and when we did this in Inwood housing with Councilmember Laurie Combo, we were able to see a substantial decrease in violence in the area with young people because they had a safe space, and there was a location where they were able to involve themselves in activities that were healthy for their development and we want to continue to see this done throughout the entire city. Then we want to look at how we can find ways to occupy our young people who are either victims of crime or are participating in crime, particularly during those hours when parents are not home and are at work trying to make ends meet? It is our responsibility to be the safety net and find the right program to have our children do something constructive instead of becoming a victim of crime or participating in crime. We have made Borough Hall available to thousands of people as a safe space since I’ve been in office and we want to continue to do that. Then we want to expand our internship program throughout the borough. You will find that one of the well-kept secret, particularly in the inner-city is how young people can move ahead and getting a head start on other groups is by being an intern, learning some of the proper mannerisms of being in the corporate or business environment is part of the development of our children is putting them in places where they are in safe spaces instead of harmful spaces.
Something that I found in my first year and a half in office is that we are leaving too much free resources on the table because people are not aware of how to go about getting access to many of the resources that they can get access to. We just rolled out a book called: Free Services That are Available to Brooklynites, the goal is that we can be able to connect people with the resources that are available. I also want to say this, that Governor Cuomo cut the funding of a program we called SNUG and it was the wrong thing to do and he needs to refocus his attention to gang violence, to street violence and to hand guns. When I was in the senate there was a mass shooting using automatic assault weapons, the governor push through in days a law that impacted the use of automatic assault riffiles and high speed ammunitions, that law would not have had a direct effect on the problems that exists in our communities because in our communities we have a hand gun problem we don’t have an automatic weapon problem. And so the same level of urgency that the governor displayed in dealing with assault weapons that is a problem in other communities, he needs to deal with the hand gun issue that is a problem in our community.
Question: Is there a solution to this problem?
BP Eric Adams: We need stronger gun laws. There are many commonsense gun laws that we can implement to really make an impact on gun violence. The second is to educate parents. Some of you might remember a video that I put up and is still on line that shows parents how to go through their own homes and look for guns. We have to take an active role and make that our homes are gun free. Before guns get to the streets it is in somebody’s book bag, or under somebody’s mattress, and so we have to take responsibility. I tell my son all the time that there is no constitutional rights inside my house, I must protect him and all my other family members, and we must be active in that our children do not find themselves in harm’s way. Third, we have to find on the ground operation, non-profit groups, community based groups that are really doing an unbelievable job of volunteering their time, we need to give them at lease the minimum resources and they can do so much more and I believe that we can make a complete dent into the problem.