The police shooting of Daunte Wright in suburban Minneapolis on Sunday weighed heavily on Public Advocate Jumaane Williams’ mind Tuesday as he announced a summertime effort to combat gun violence in New York.
Wright, 20, was shot and killed during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. The police officer who pulled the trigger and her chief have since resigned, but the incident reignited calls across the country for police reform and an end to racial injustice in law enforcement.
Williams acknowledged the incident Tuesday while leading a gaggle of fellow elected officials and community activists during a press conference at City Hall Park to announce a new initiative hoping to combat the wave of gun violence that the five boroughs experienced last summer — in which more than 400 shootings occurred in July and August 2020 alone.
The public advocate stressed that gun violence is not only an issue at the hands of law enforcement, but also a problem facing those who live in neighborhoods rife with gang violence.
“From Brooklyn, to Brooklyn Center in Minneapolis — we lift up our brother Dante Wright — communities all across this country that look like the communities that the people behind me work in, they are sandwiched. They are sandwiched by gun violence on the street and over policing and police violence, they are stuck in the middle of that screaming and yelling for help and resources,” Williams said.
In order to combat the storm of bullets that left so many dead and injured across the city, Williams has partnered with Community Capacity Development and a host of other anti-gun violence activists to take a hands-on approach to gun violence in order to prevent further deaths from occurring as the weather grows warmer.
According to the Executive Director of Community Capacity Development K. Bane, various organizations will be targeting hotspot areas for gun violence, along with individuals who may engage in firearm altercations, promising to be on hand during public events.
Bane also promised what he calls “cross-coordination,” an effort that will have preventive groups travel to another borough when an incident takes place, allowing for more hands at a single scene.
While Bane said that the organizations he works alongside are professionally trained in violence interruption and reduction techniques, he is also calling all New Yorkers to get involved, from the young to the elderly who can help aid them throughout the process by keeping them informed regarding matters in their neighborhoods.
“Public safety can’t happen without the community,” Bane said.
Over the course of an hour, both elected officials and community members spoke about the importance of keeping the streets safe for social events, block parties and other gatherings that bring people together. They also called for greater economic opportunities for youths to avoid falling into the trap of crime.
Williams stressed that police reform alone isn’t the answer — but that ending gun violence requires a more holistic approach on various fronts.
“All we are asking is for all of our partners to work together, come to the table because it is summertime and you see the pain on people’s faces, the trauma that is going on as they personally deal with violence in their own lives and their neighbors’ lives,” Williams said, concluding, “If it was solely a police problem, it would have been solved already.”