On the heels of a yet another fatal shooting on Feb. 6, one Brooklyn community came together Sunday to call for an end to gun violence on their streets.
Canarsie residents gathered on Feb. 12 at a rally for recent shooting victims in the southern Brooklyn neighborhood: 20-year-old Ethen Flowers, who was gunned down last week near the corner of Paerdegat 1st Street and East 79th Street and 40-year-old Billy Jean Hippolyte, a father who was fatally shot last month near the corner of E. 83rd Street and Flatlands Avenue, not far from where Flowers was killed.
During the showing, Hippolyte’s two siblings, Naomi and Ruth Hippolyte, called not only for peace, but also for funding to help get guns off the city’s streets.
“Why are these guns coming to our community?” the two asked. “We need this funding to come in. We are asking for peace.”
While shootings in Brooklyn’s 69th Precinct, which serves the Canarsie community, are reportedly down year-to-date, elected officials on Sunday urged the city to look beyond the data — especially when that data directly impacts a community.
“The data means nothing,” said Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. “The Black and Brown community is still dealing with it even through the data,” the public advocate said, thanking the victims’ families for being there. Williams also used his time to call for funding for violence interrupters — and for the communities where these shootings are most frequently occurring.
Williams said deaths like Flowers and Hippolyte’s are preventable with the help of local cure violence groups and other crucial resources.
“These kids deserve whatever you can give them,” he said. “They need another outlet. Help us change the mindset.”
As of Feb. 5, when the most recent data is available, reported shootings are down 50 percent year-to-date in the 69th Precinct, according to Police Department data and, citywide, they’re down 27 percent compared to this time last year.
Still, with Flowers and Hippolyte in mind and against the backdrop of a mural painted in memory of George Floyd, representatives with the Flossy Organization — a Canarsie-based anti-gun violence group — joined Williams, and other pols, in calling for additional resources.
“We want to help with getting resources, we need resources for our youth and anti gun violence,” a spokesperson for the group told the crowd. “We have lost too many people to gun violence. We need a cure for gun violence.”
Local Council Member Charles Barron — one of just six City Council members to vote against the most recent city budget’s adoption last June — urged the city to consider reallocating some of the NYPD’s budget elsewhere.
“You can’t give $11 billion to the police and neglect a community,” Barron said. “This is no excuse to be killing your own.”
Council Member Mercedes Narcisse echoed both Barron and Williams that local groups, like the Flossy Organization, need additional funding from the city.
“Every time a bullet is fired, it rips through our community,” she said. “Not every child and suspect has structure. Enough is enough. These groups need help.”
During the rally, Ruth and Naomi Hippolyte remembered their brother as “a lover of life.”
“Billy was a great guy,” they said, adding that he leaves behind a six-year-old daughter. “He was a lover of life. We will do everything in our power to get justice.”