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Community hosts peace and prayer rally for three year-old gunshot victim

Emerging Voices: As Jose Riviera (center), the father of shooting victim Isaiah Rivera seeks justice for the shooting of his son, community organizers like the Brooklyn Anti-Violence Coalition, Lance Goodwin’s SUV Club, TJ’s Printing and many others are raising their voices in support him and other concerned parents. “I think it’s time for us as a community to collect ourselves, reevaluate and restructure the direction we need to go with our children,” said Rev. W. Taharka Robinson, President, Brooklyn Anti-Violence Coalition. “It’s very important for everyone to see that we can mobilize, organize and strategize to get something done to deal with this issue of violence in the community.” Some 300 people packed the courtyard in front of 383 Pulaski Street, where as one Excellence Academy middle school student asked, “Why do children have to worry about getting shot while playing?” (Part One of a series)


“Stop the violence!”

“Stop the madness!”

“Stop the shooting!”

“Let’s protect our children!”

Amidst a full court press yesterday, hundreds of attendees of the community peace and prayer rally called by The Brooklyn Anti-Violence Coalition, chanted in unity for a mass coming together in spirit, mission and resolve to protect … and fight for … the most vulnerable among us: our children.

The event was announced early yesterday morning in a massive grassroots guerilla press effort and facilitated by community-based groups and individuals outside of 383 Pulaski Street, where the shooting of three-year old Isaiah Rivera occurred as he played in the sprinklers in the broad daylight heat of last Sunday afternoon.

The toddler survived the shots to his calf – and two of the three shooters were caught, but young Isaiah’s story is serving as the platform for the gun violence that is increasing within the Bedford Stuyvesant area.

“The irony of all of this is that for the first time since 1963, last year we were under 200 murders in Brooklyn. This morning, we have 14 more murders than last year,” said District Attorney Charles Hynes after participating in a prayer circle led called by BAVC President Taharka Robinson and led by The Rev. Robert Waterman for the family as little Isaiah smiled and frolicked inside his apartment.

“So, when I hear these pastors talking about a war, I agree; there’s a war and we have to do something about it,” Hynes said firmly, adding, “This is a strong community, and a strong neighborhood,; there is no reason why anyone should be able to carry a gun and shoot people like Isaiah; let’s go forward together.”

Hynes’ claim to unite with more community involvement and teaching our children “the right way” has been a plea made by numerous elected officials and community leaders over the years— a solution that many believe would cut down crime and in turn bring everyone closer together.

“Your children are my children, and that’s the way we should feel about it,” said Assemblywoman Annette Robinson during the rally.

“We all come from different parts of the world, but in all the parts of the world that we come from, we cannot allow our children to become victims in their community,” she said.

Also during the rally community pillars such as BAVC founder The Reverend Taharka Robinson, BAVC Vice President Bruce Green, Councilmember Letitia James, Reverend Conrad Tillard and Geoffrey Davis, Founder/CEO James E. Davis Stop Violence Foundation, to name a few, ardently spoke out on ways to make the community safer for everyone.

Rally leaders also encouraged children to express their feelings on what is happening around them.

“Why do children have to worry about getting shot while playing in the park? Why can’t we just have a safe childhood?” exclaimed young Bruce Green. “Why can’t (they) all grow up and live long lives? The answer to these questions is ‘guns in the streets’,” Green said.

Since the shooting, one of the suspects has been arrested but police are still searching for the other suspect. As for Rivera’s family, they are moving move forward and have joint the effort to stop the violence. “This needs to stop, this needs to stop today,” said Mr. Rivera, the victim’s father. “Who is going to be the next victim? It’s just too unfortunate and this needs to stop right now; it shouldn’t take a three year-old to bring the community together.”

If anyone knows anything about this crime, they are urged to call the command center hotline at (718)-250-2024.

(Note to readers:  This is the first of a series of stories regarding the incident and the emerging leadership being inspired by it. We also feel the sentiments of many of the speakers at yesterday’s rally should not be documented and not lost.)

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