By Mary Alice Miller
The Hon. Minister Louis Farrakhan came to the Van Dyke housing development last week to call for an end to violence. In a message targeted (in particular) to teens, Farrakhan told the crowd, “You are our future. You are the greatest generation that we have ever produced. Why do I say that? Even though sometimes we all just don’t understand our young, this is a new generation, a powerful generation, a fearless generation.”
Farrakhan called them “a generation set apart for the voice of God.” Reminding the crowd that each generation is often misunderstood by the elders, Farrakhan said, “Sometimes we can’t reach them, but if you are a product of Pharaoh, you can’t reach these young people. God himself is separating them from the mind-set of white supremacy and Black inferiority which most of us grew up under and may not have yet outgrown.”
The minister had plenty of blame for the violence in Black communities, laying much of it squarely at the feet of the elders.
“These young people, star basketball players, football players, you tell them, ‘Stay in school. You’ve got to stay in school because you won’t make it unless you get an education.’ They look at you and say, ‘Stay in school so I can be like you’? You who compromised the future of our people, who sell out to the forces that be, who bows down to that which you should never bow down to? How do you want your young people to follow you, and you don’t have the strength to lead them?”
Farrakhan spoke on a wide range of issues – exploding Black populations, eugenics, population control, limited world resources and who will have access to those resources, and mass media.
”If you are a people who have become a source of trouble (via overpopulation),” Farrakhan said, with access to the Internet “you are beginning to wake up and ask what things they cannot give you.” Hence, according to Farrakhan, the plan is to destroy Black males. Farrakhan called for Black people to end self-annihilation by gun violence.
Farrakhan urged Black people to stop participating in self-destruction. “They are building prisons, and who are they for? Not for the white man,” Farrakhan said. “Nobody cares about you. You are a product of your former slave masters. Your people are being herded into a lifestyle… that is going to jail.” But, he added, “You are not as bad as you are acting.”
“You ain’t manufacturing no guns, but you got some,” said the minister. His message was explicit: stop using those guns to kill each other.
One day after Farrakhan brought his message of antiviolence to Van Dyke, the U.S. Dept. of Justice came to Brownsville Heritage House announcing an $11 million national antiviolence initiative. The Center for Court Innovation’s Brownsville Community Justice Center is one of 15 community programs across the country selected to receive funding to address neighborhood-level crime.
The Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation (BCJI) Program, an initiative of the DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, is part of the White House Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative to provide opportunities for children and families living in the nation’s most distressed neighborhoods where poverty is concentrated. Locally, the Brownsville Anti-Violence Project will convene monthly “call-in” forums where parolees returning to the neighborhoods meet with representatives of law enforcement, social service providers and ex-offenders who have gotten their lives back on track. Participants in the meetings receive a targeted, three-pronged message: that future violent behavior will be rigorously prosecuted at both the state and federal levels; that many ex-offenders are leading law-abiding lives; and that individuals seeking help will be supported by the community and service providers.
In addition, the Brownsville Anti-Violence Project will include a public education campaign promoting nonviolence and cooperation with law enforcement, case management for participants in the call-in meetings, and a range of community engagement projects. The purpose is to target crime in the locations where it occurs and to deter future crimes by addressing social impacts including physical disorder, social economic status and resources, and the collective health of the neighborhood.
Results will be measured by neighborhood crime analysis, recidivism analysis and community surveys.
The national initiatives will be supported by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), which provides technical support to transform distressed neighborhoods into healthy, sustainable communities. Across the country, LISC’s community safety initiative has led to double-digit reductions in crime which paved the way for $265 million in real estate development in neighborhoods where crime previously deterred investment.
“There have been too many tears shed. So many bright futures will never know their potential because of the gun violence that plagues our neighborhoods and communities,” said Pitkin Avenue BID board member Mark Tanis. “If it takes a village to raise a child, we all need to take hands on with our young. Now is our time to stand up and take our streets back.”
This week, NYPD Commissioner Kelly announced the doubling of the Gang Division from 150 detectives to 300 in order to target street gun violence. The initiative, dubbed Operation Crew Cut, comes two weeks after the arrest of 49 members of two rival gangs located in Brownsville — The Very Crispy Gangsters and the Rockstarz, who were charged with several murders and intimidation of witnesses. The gang members taunted each other, issued threats and bragged about murders on social media web sites.
“We’ll focus those resources not on large, established gangs such as the Bloods and Crips, but on the looser associations of younger men who identify themselves by the block they live on, or on which side of a housing development they reside. Their loyalty is to their friends … and their rivalries are based not on narcotics trafficking or some other entrepreneurial interest, but simply on local turf,” said Kelly. “By capitalizing on the irresistible urge of these suspects to brag about their murderous exploits on Facebook, detectives used social media to draw a virtual map of their criminal activity over the last three years.”
Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes supports the initiative. “We understand that we are never going to eliminate gang activity, it’s just not realistic. But we’re not going to let it grow to the size of Cook County or L.A. County,” said Hynes. “Last year, for the first time since 1963, we had less than 200 murders in Brooklyn,” said Hynes, who attributed the decrease to a targeted focus on gang violence.
“Operation Crew Cut is a smart and proactive approach to curtail youth violence which accounts for 30% of shootings in NYC,” said Richard Aborn, President of the Citizens Crime Commission. “By utilizing the latest technology, doubling the size of the gang violence unit and coordinating closely with district attorneys, the New York Police Department is making effective use of targeted resources to not only combat crime, but create an overall deterrent effect.”