Last week members of the National Action Network, a civil rights organization founded by Al Sharpton, began standing on street corners at night in New York City to prevent gun violence, which they’ll continue to do for the next three weeks. The Amsterdam News explained the initiative and sought out some opinions on its likelihood of success:
Grandmas wearing light jackets may be posted next to teens with hoodies on, as elder church gentlemen stand next to young moms as they all occupy a corner in the boroughs of New York City.
Participants are asked to wear white T-shirts and bring a flashlight.
Popular disapproval over the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk tactics have fueled a desire for community-based initiatives to curtail the violence. Marquez Claxton, a former NYPD detective, said the approach holds promise.
“The Occupy the Corners plan is a giant step in the right direction. In addition to putting people on the streets, Occupy the Corners reportedly is planning to identify private funding streams for programs and initiatives that support community service efforts,” said Marq Claxton, director of the Black Law Enforcement Alliance. “Addressing violence in any community takes a sustained collaborative effort, and we support and encourage it. Not only do we plan on participating in this effort, but we are available to provide technical assistance to the organizers.”
Occupy the Corners involves groups that Voices of NY has noted before, such as the nonprofit Man Up!, which seeks to disrupt violent situations and defuse ensuing incidents. Amsterdam News spoke with A.T. Mitchell, head of the anti-violence organization, who said his group is cautiously supportive of the effort.
“Staying in the streets and on corners and all is what we do every day,” said Mitchell. “You can’t operate on some reactionary level just because Police Commissioner Ray Kelly decided to attack the same groups who have been doing the work on the ground for years.
“But things are dire on the street, and if Occupy the Corners—no matter the reason it came about—can bring attention to what is really going on, then we violence interrupters will take all the help we can get. But they have to yield to those who have been doing the work on a daily basis.
“After the four weeks, we should be in a place where there are some real solutions. How do we change the liquids into solids? We want to know how it materializes into something real. We keep keeping on, regardless. But we are gonna play our position and do as we are told so long as it doesn’t detract from our original mission, which is saving lives.”