‘WE HAVE BEEN IN PAIN’: Assemblywoman Diana Richardson rained praise on those community members in her central and east Brooklyn neighborhoods who she said had come together to address gun violence. She spoke during July 14 at Lenox Road Baptist Church in Brooklyn’s Prospect-Lefferts Garden following Governor Cuomo’s announcement of a jobs-creation program for those 18 to 24 most impacted by violent crime. To her left is State Sen. Zellnor Myrie. 

Days after an especially bloody weekend in the city, during which four teenage boys were shot, three of them fatally, Governor Cuomo traveled to an east Brooklyn neighborhood long bedeviled by lethal violence to unveil jobs and community-service programs intended to quell the gunplay.  

The centerpiece initiative envisions the creation of about 4,400 jobs, nearly 2,400 of them long-term opportunities, all of them designed to engage young people most at risk of contending with violent crime.

Talk 'Is Not Enough'

Ahead of addressing what his administration said was the first of several planned “gun-violence-prevention community meetings,” the Governor July 14 said it was imperative to give at-risk youth opportunities and not just rhetoric. 

Mr. Cuomo, citing statistics showing that 77 percent of gun victims in the city are black or brown, called the violence “a major civil-rights issue.” 

“And it's not enough to say ‘No, don't do drugs, don't join a gang.’ There has to be an alternative. There has to be hope," he said at Lenox Road Baptist Church in Brooklyn’s Prospect-Lefferts Gardens neighborhood, as Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, the city’s likely next Mayor, stood nearby.

Assemblywoman Diana Richardson, who represents Crown Heights, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens and East Flatbush, later thanked the Governor for helping tackle what has been an endemic problem in her district, but was effusive in praising community members, including those who belong to cure-violence groups and clergy, saying they had long sustained one another. 

“For far too long, we have been in pain. For far too long, our community has been just hemorrhaging, calling out for help,” she said inside Lenox Road Baptist. “And we are grateful that there's finally, now, a disaster declared and that the Governor is here, boots to the ground, with real substantive solutions, employment, jobs, as well as other resources to really not just make a big headline, but bring action to the ground, to the people who are literally dying, for all of our assistance and attention.”

Jobs in IT, Construction

Residents in eastern Brooklyn, particularly in the neighborhoods of Crown Heights, Brownsville, East New York and Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, have long contended with shootings and killings. In addition to developing 900 jobs for young people in that part of the borough, more than half of them long-term occupations, the Governor’s plan envisions hiring an undisclosed number of so-called “violence interrupters” to help tamp down threats before they turn deadly. It also will expand programs to support treatment of mental-health, substance-abuse and family-crisis problems. 

The long-term jobs will be developed in partnership with the Consortium for Worker Education, the private nonprofit workforce development arm of the AFL-CIO New York City Central Labor Council, which will provide training, stipends, credentialing and placement. Residents 18 to 24 who live in designated gun-violence hot-spots and those referred by advocacy groups and organizations will be first in line for acceptance into the programs. 

Jobs will be in industries ranging from construction to food service, health care and information technology. 

Earlier this month, Governor Cuomo declared what his office said was the a first-in-the-nation gun-violence disaster emergency. The declaration authorized state officials to hasten the distribution of money and resources to communities hit hard by gun crimes so they can quickly address the violence. 

Through July 11, the NYPD had recorded 931 victims of 803 shootings citywide, increases of 22 percent and 29 percent, respectively, compared to the same period last year, when gun violence began to spike. Firearms crimes, though, have dipped in recent weeks.

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