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SEE IT: President Biden visits Queens school to discuss violence prevention programs

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U.S. President Joe Biden listens to K. Bain, founder and executive director of Community Capacity Development, during his visit to New York public school P.S. 111 Jacob Blackwell to discuss community violence intervention programs with local leaders in Queens, New York City, New York, U.S., Feb. 3, 2022. (REUTERS/Leah Millis)

After arriving in New York City Thursday morning for a much-anticipated meeting with Mayor Eric Adams, Governor Kathy Hochul, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and other city officials on the outbreak of gun violence in the Big Apple, President Joe Biden headed to P.S. 111 in Long Island City, where he met with community leaders to discuss various violence prevention programs.

Biden’s visit comes after he pledged to dedicate $500 million in the 2022 spending package to community policing and intervention programs that have proven effective in New York City. Biden also released comprehensive plans to reduce gun violence, which includes curtailing the flow of illegal weapons into affected communities. 

At the meeting, leaders discussed the success of programs already in place, like the Cure Violence Program which partners the NYC Health Department and local nonprofits in providing community-based outreach to prevent crime. P.S. 111 Principal Dionne Jaggon spoke highly of the program in successfully preventing violence in their district.

Queens City Councilwoman Julie Won is one of the founding members of CCD and strongly believes in these preventative tactics. 

“I am humbled and honored to stand with my partners from CCD and P.S. 111 to show that violence can be solved when we meet it with compassion and real community investment,” Won said. 

Cure Violence organizations provide services that tackle the root causes of crime, which stem from inequity, inaccessibility to resources or a lack of support. Some services provided include the following: free self-defense courses for youth; substance abuse prevention; addiction recovery services; financial literacy support; conflict mediation strategies; after-school programs; and more. 

“Cure violence organizations equip young people to not just interrupt violence but to prevent violence by providing holistic wrap-around services to uplift our communities,” Won said. “We can’t continue to meet violence with violence, we must recognize the undeniable power of a strong community in resolving the root causes of violence.”

Gun violence is up in the city, with 100 reported shootings in January alone and a 38.5% increase in nearly all major crimes. 

The Queensbridge Houses went a whole year without a single shooting due to the intervention of the nonprofit 696 Build Queensbridge. According to reports, these types of prevention tactics are successful. A John Jay College of Criminal Justice study found that the South Bronx experienced a 37% decline in gun injuries and a 63% reduction in shooting victimizations due to the Cure Violence program’s intervention.

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney joined the meeting as well and thanked Biden for treating the spike in gun violence as a public health crisis. 

“In the first month of this year alone, we have lost more than 3,000 American lives to gun violence — we must honor all the victims with action,” Maloney said. “I am hopeful that with the president’s support, we can break the NRA’s stranglehold on Congress and finally pass meaningful, lifesaving legislation.”

See photos of the president at P.S. 11 below:

President Biden’s motorcade arriving in Long Island City, Queens on Feb. 3, 2022. (Photo by Dean Moses)
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks with New York public school P.S. 111 Jacob Blackwell’s Principal Dionne Jaggon during his visit to discuss community violence intervention programs with local leaders in Queens, New York City, New York, U.S., Feb. 3, 2022. (REUTERS/Leah Millis)
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks with K. Bain, founder and executive director of Community Capacity Development, during his visit to New York public school P.S. 111 Jacob Blackwell to discuss community violence intervention programs with local leaders in Queens, New York City, New York, U.S., Feb. 3, 2022. (REUTERS/Leah Millis)
U.S. President Joe Biden embraces Emanuel Campbell, staff supervisor of Community Capacity Development, during his visit to New York public school P.S. 111 Jacob Blackwell to discuss community violence intervention programs with local leaders in Queens, New York City, New York, U.S., Feb. 3, 2022. (REUTERS/Leah Millis)

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