Local leaders in Queens expressed outrage over the continuing violence in the Astoria and shootings occurring across the city, calling on gangs to cease fire and the police to crack down on the gunfire.
The meeting with community leaders comes after four people were shot inside a sitting area in Ravenswood Houses on 36th Avenue and 21st Street on Tuesday afternoon as children played nearby. One of those wounded in the attack is still hanging on to life after being shot in the head.
Leaders met at that same spot this afternoon, a large pool of blood still uncleaned after police left the crime scene and workers didn’t have time to clean it. The sitting area was still surrounded by yellow tape, a telltale of the carnage the day before.
Advocate Tony Herbert, president of City-wide housing for the National Action Network, called for “immediate police intervention to stop the shootings.” He was joined by tenant leaders from Ravenswood and Queensbridge Houses as well as other local leaders.
“We are calling for there to be no retaliation because we want this to stop,” Herbert said, recognizing that some of the shootings are between warring gangs. “We are the ones caught in the middle of this craziness. We also want to say to this mayor to get his act together and let the police department be in a position that they need to get on top of this and getting the guns off the street.”
Herbert and the rest of the residents say the police are “desperately needed,” and “if we could do things with better modernization, at the end of the day, they must be on streets getting these guns off.”
“In the last few days, there were some odd 40 something people shot, maybe up to 70 — we are here to denounce this violence,” he said. “We want to know what the mayor is doing and the same thing with our state legislators, what are you doing to get the resources to help reduce the violence?”
Carol Wilkins, president of the Ravenswood Tenant Association, took a moment from her volunteer work with the food pantry to decry the continued violence.
“These kids are from our community and its happening in the middle of this pandemic going on,” Wilkins said. “This gun violence has got to stop. We can’t live like this because first we are quarantined in our homes from COVID-19 and now we have to quarantine because we are afraid of getting shot. This is not the wild west, we shouldn’t have to be going around with vests on and dodging bullets.”
Kenny Carter of Fathers Alive in the Hood, said he and his volunteers are trying to help “each youth they come in contact with to steer them in the right direction away from violence.’
“We want to help them develop morally, spiritually and physically if they have time,” Carter said. “What’s going on this community is not strange to the other surrounding communities and not strange to the outer communities surrounding them. It is sad because unfortunately, we see this all too often when our young people respond in a way that it seems that they don’t know how to communicate — we see anger being throttled out and transformed into something that is really horrible. We have teenagers that are having weapons to take a life of another teenager and if you are a father, grandfather or grandmother and you are thinking you have your child outside, and you are thinking they are good, but then you get a phone call that your son is outside laid out on the ground because someone decided randomly to kill. We are in Armageddon right now — spiritual warfare.”
Stephanie Chanucey, vice president of the Queensbridge Houses Tenant Association said “love is the answer,” and they must spread that around.
“When will we change? But first, we must change our minds and love each other, but we all must be accountable,” Chauncey said.
Herbert said he doesn’t blame parents, but everyone is part of the solution.
“We need the gangs to stuff to stop. We must get more resources to get a better life, but taking a life is not going to help,” Herbert said.