BY TRONE DOWD
Last Friday, the community of Far Rockaway along with Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) took a huge step towards finally addressing the gun violence that has long plagued the peninsula.
The recently funded Cure Violence program is a collection of initiatives meant to benefit both the young people at risk of being pressured into turning to a life of crime, as well as keeping those already involved in dubious activity from committing a crime that could potentially ruin the rest of their lives.
There will also be efforts to keep kids in local middle schools away from bad influences and getting financial and social help to the individuals who need it most.
The Press of Southeast Queens has touched on the gun violence issue out in Far Rockaway in the past.
In fact, last November we published a feature profiling just four of the many mothers who lost their sons to deadly and senseless shootings, as well as the numerous civic leaders and organizations coming together frantically trying to find solutions to this horrifying issue. So far this year, there have been a total of six victims of gun violence in the Rockaways, according to CompStat reports in the 101st Precinct.
The issue seemed to be all but ignored by the city at large, leaving it to the mothers of slain children to tell their stories and get the word out about the black boys and girls being murdered in their own communities by their peers.
This is why the city council’s effort to help these ailing neighborhoods is a step in the right direction.
We’ve seen what the Cure Violence program can do for areas in need. At the end of last year, Councilman Ruben Wills and the anti-violence non-profit Life Camp celebrated a full year without a single shooting incident along a previously crime rich corridor of Sutphin Boulevard. Not only was the success of Cure Violence a victory for Councilman Wills and Life Camp, it was a great victory for the parents and young people of Southeast Queens. It was a full year where a mother didn’t have to bury a child. A full year where children didn’t have to go to class wondering what happened to their close friends.
Investing in the long term success of Far Rockaway will surely pay off. We’ve seen efforts in the last year or so to bring commercial success and realize the potential of downtown Far Rockaway. Now we are seeing a push towards ending violence on the peninsula once and for all. If the city keeps on this track, the far off neighborhoods, once known for its crime ridden streets, could soon transform into a part of the city all Queens residents can be proud of.
Let’s try to keep the momentum going in our favor.
Reach Trone Dowd at (718) 357-7400 x123, firstname.lastname@example.org or @theloniusly