BOROUGH PRESIDENT KATZ, PUBLIC ADVOCATE WILLIAMS, COMMUNITY-BASED ORGANIZATIONS ANNOUNCE QUEENS TOWN HALL ON GUN VIOLENCE

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Thursday, May 30

QUEENS, NY – Borough President Melinda Katz and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, in conjunction with 696 Build Queensbridge, Fathers Alive in the Hood (F.A.I.T.H.), King of Kings Foundation, LIFE Camp, Inc., Rock Safe Streets – A Sheltering Arms Program and Transitional Services for New York, Inc., announced an upcoming Town Hall on Gun Violence to take place on Thursday, May 30th, 2019 at 6:00pm at Queens Borough Hall.

The May 30th Town Hall, held two days before the start of Gun Violence Awareness Month in June, will be a boroughwide open public forum for community groups, city agencies and law enforcement to discuss how to disarm violence in our communities, and to address gun violence as the public health crisis that it is — one that continues to impact youth, families and communities with devastating consequences.

“We cannot cure the epidemic of gun violence solely through policing and locking up those who run afoul of the law,” said Borough President KATZ. “If we’re serious about ridding our society of the scourge of gun violence everywhere, we must deconstruct the normalization of gun violence. It is imperative that as a city, we direct our collective focus toward prevention through the promotion of peace and intervention, as well as increasing resources to investigate and prosecute those who traffic guns into our communities. At this borough-wide public forum, we will hear from leaders in government, law enforcement and dedicated community-based organizations throughout Queens on strategies that successfully steer our young people away from gun violence and toward paths of empowerment.”

“We see the realities of horrific gun violence every day, on our screens and in our streets. Combating this pandemic means implementing strategies at all levels of government and in partnership with community groups doing the hard work of violence prevention and intervention on the ground,” said Public Advocate WILLIAMS. “Participation in solutions is key, and so as we begin Gun Violence Awareness Month, I am glad that we can come together for a conversation on ending violence in Queens, across our city, and across our country.”

Also on hand to answer questions will be representatives from the New York City Police Department, the Mayor’s Office to Prevent Gun Violence, the New York City Department of Education and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

According to the City, crime has dropped dramatically across Queens in recent decades, with both Patrol Borough Queens North and Patrol Borough Queens South having seen murders decline by more than 75 percent since 1990.

However, far too many families are still losing loved ones to gun violence — either as the victim of a shooting or the perpetrator — every day. Through April, there were 43 reported shootings across Queens this year. Patrol Borough Queens North saw 18 of those shootings, up from 7 through the first four months of 2018.

Despite the recent increase in shootings in some areas, the city has seen a precipitous decline in gun violence since the 1990s, which has been made possible in part because of the dedicated work of community-based anti-violence and youth support organizations across the borough — groups that strive to deconstruct the normalization of gun violence across neighborhoods. The May 30th Town Hall will stress the importance of empowering and assisting gun violence prevention efforts proven to save lives and strengthen communities on a daily basis.

“The 696 Build Queensbridge team is enthusiastic to collaborate with Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams for the Queens Borough Town Hall on Gun Violence,” said K. BAIN, Founding Program Director of 696 Build Queensbridge. “These conversations are critical for communities like Queensbridge where gun violence is too often overlooked and misunderstood. We look forward to continuing our strong partnership with Queens Borough President Melinda Katz to promote public safety and healing in our neighborhoods.”

“Fatherlessness is one of the root causes of violence,” said KENNY CARTER, CEO of Fathers Alive in the Hood (F.A.I.T.H.). “As Fathers Alive in the Hood (F.A.I.T.H.), we vow to increase our presence of fathers and men who are willing to fill in the void of fatherlessness.”

“Here at the King of Kings Foundation, we understand that violence is a disease and we must take a public health approach to this issue,” said LANCE AND TODD FUERTADO, Founders of King of Kings Foundation. “Guns in the hands of an unstable person can bring about harm to other people, so if we can pay more attention to the hand that’s holding the gun and not the gun itself, we can make progress.”

“LIFE Camp knows first-hand the effects of Gun Violence in our community. It is critical that we have a real conversation surrounding the voices of those who are affected,” said ERICA FORD, CEO of LIFE Camp, Inc. “The time is now for us to come together to support real solutions. Our work to expand the VIP system requires partnership with everyone in Queens, including every legislator and every neighbor. Let’s come together for peace.”

“Gun violence affects entire communities, which is why programs like Rock Safe Streets —­ who work to get the whole Far Rockaway community involved — are critical in turning the tide against this violence,” said ELIZABETH MCCARTHY, CEO of Sheltering Arms Children and Family Services. “At Sheltering Arms, we are proud of the work Rock Safe Streets is doing and it is important that we show others that progress and peace are possible.”

“We have a strong responsibility as mental health professionals to debunk the myth that psychiatric illness of a shooter is the reason for the devastating incident. According to statistics from ‘Untangling Gun Violence from Mental Illness’ by Julie Beck in 2016, only 4 percent of the violence — not just gun violence, but any kind — in the United States is attributable to schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or depression,” said LARRY GRUBLER, CEO of Transitional Services for New York, Inc. “In other words, 96 percent of the violence in America has nothing to do with mental illness but rather other factors. TSINY is a partner in the Queens Town Hall on Gun Violence to provide accurate information between mental illness and gun violence.”

During the Town Hall, representatives from 696 Build Queensbridge, Fathers Alive in the Hood (F.A.I.T.H.), King of Kings Foundation, LIFE Camp, Inc., Rock Safe Streets – A Sheltering Arms Program and Transitional Services for New York, Inc. will discuss the successful initiatives that encourage people to be positive influences in their communities — strategies that are helping to move forward a boroughwide priority on combating gun violence.

Anyone interested in attending is encouraged to RSVP at www.queensbp.org/rsvp or call 718-286-2661.

Follow Borough President Katz via @QueensBPKatz on Twitter and Facebook

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