Calling the gun violence epidemic both a public health and safety issue, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz announced she will cohost a town hall meeting with Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and several community-based organizations that are on the front lines in the battle against guns.
The meeting will take place at Borough Hall in Kew Gardens on Thursday, May 30, at 6 p.m., just two days before the start of Gun Violence Awareness Month in June. City agencies and law enforcement will be on hand to discuss how to disarm violence in communities that continue to torment youth and families with devastating consequences.
“We cannot cure the epidemic of gun violence through policing and locking up those who run afoul of the law,” Katz said. “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.”
According to City Hall, 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 losing loved ones to gun violence, either as the victim of the shooting or as the perpetrator, every day.
“We see the realities of horrific gun violence every day, on our screens and in our streets,” Williams said. “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.”
Katz is one of seven candidates running for Queens District Attorney and last month she rolled out her plan of action to address gun violence in the borough. She acknowledged the good works of many of the community groups in some of the most vulnerable neighborhoods which will all be participating in the town hall.
“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,” Sheltering Arms Children and Family Services CEO Elizabeth McCarthy said. “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.”
K. Bain, the founding program director of 696 Build Queensbridge, is enthusiastically collaborating with Katz and Williams for the town hall meeting.
“These conversations are critical for communities like Queensbridge where gun violence is too often overlooked and misunderstood,” he said.
Fathers Alive in the Hood, King of Kings Foundation and Life Camp Inc. will also be on hand to discuss successful initiatives and strategies that encourage people to be positive influences in their communities.
“It is critical that we have a real conversation surrounding the voices of those who are affected,” Life Camp Inc. CEO Erica Ford said. “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.”
Anyone interested in attending is encouraged to RSVP at www.queensbp.org/rsvp or call 718-286-2661.