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Cumbo Holds Press Conference to Address 'A Tale of Two Cities,' Gun Violence Plaguing the District

City Councilmember Laurie Cumbo held a press conference at Ingersoll Houses Monday morning to address gun violence, following a triple homicide in the housing complex on Sunday.
Ingersoll Houses, triple homicide
City Councilmember Laurie Cumbo held a press conference at Ingersoll Houses Monday morning to address gun violence, following a triple homicide in the housing complex on Sunday. On the right stands Darold Burgess, vice president of the resident association for Ingersoll Houses and Shun'ji and Jo'Siah Herring, cousins of shooting victim Lacount Simmons.

Around two dozen residents of Ingersoll Houses-- primarily seniors-- and a handful of elected officials were gathered Monday morning on the corner of Myrtle Ave and Navy St. for a press conference called by City Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo, in response to a triple-homicide shooting that took place around 2:00am Sunday morning.

The victims-- Calvin Clinkscales, 43, from New Lots, and Lacount Simmons, 39, were both shot in the head and were declared dead at the scene. A third victim — Herbert Brown, 76, was hit in the abdomen and died soon after at New York Methodist Hospital in Park Slope.

The gathering was a "call for community resources to combat gun violence," led by Cumbo. On Friday, just a few days earlier, Cumbo led an anti-gun violence peace march in Crown Heights, to mourn Clinton Hill resident Carey Gabay who was shot and killed at a pre-dawn celebration of the West Indian Day Parade in Crown Heights.

Ingersoll Houses, triple homicide, Shun'ji Herring , Laurie Cumbo Jo'Siah Herring
Darold Burgess, vice president of the Resident Association for Ingersoll Houses, comforts a tearful Shun'ji Herring and Jo'Siah Herring, both cousins of shooting victim Lacount Simmons.

"In recent weeks, gun violence and loss of life has become the new narrative throughout communities of color across this city," said Cumbo in a statement. "When guns are more accessible than community centers and youth programming, we must change course."

The crowd at the morning's press conference seemed at once somber and agitated; they were clearly upset, including the tearful young cousins of victim Lacount Simmons.

"This here press conference don't mean nothing," shouted one community member, right before the start of the meeting. "There are still no jobs; there's still no resources for the youth, no place for them to go. This here where we're living is trash."

But, according to Cumbo, in 2014, after the completion of a million-dollar state-of-the-art community center in Ingersoll Houses, the development was recognized as one with the highest reduction of crime in the city of New York.

"So many have asked, why are we here today for another round, another press conference, another vigil? " said Cumbo. "We are here today, because if we do not gather, we do not raise our voices on this issue, we are giving permission for this to continue to happen.

"Our silence will speak volumes to those who want to take our community and instill a sense of fear and terrorism in our communities. We extend our thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of these victims. We want to give voice to them, because we want to show that we are human beings; we are people with families that are interconnected, that are interwoven," said Cumbo.

"We are here today, because we are asking people to come forward with any information that can to remove this dangerous individual (the shooter) from our community. We cannot allow the perpetrators to have one more day on our streets."

Other elected officials in attendance at the press conference were New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, State Senator Jesse Hamilton, Assemblyman Walter Mosley and Public Advocate Letitia James.

Ingersoll Houses, triple homicide, Shun'ji Herring , Laurie Cumbo, Jo'Siah Herring, Letitia James
Public Advocate Letitia James said structural unemployment and the "Tale of Two Cities" were major causes of continual gun violence at Ingersoll Houses

James, however, pointed to structural unemployment and the "Tale of Two Cities" as major causes of gun violence.

"During my campaign, when I talked about the Tale of Two Cities, I was referring to this neighborhood," James asserted. "Myrtle Avenue is the dividing line: On one side of Myrtle Avenue, we've got luxury developments; and on the other side, we've got the poorest census track in the entire city.

"The question is, why are the residents of Ingersoll, Whitman and Ferragut not receiving construction, jobs, workforce development? Why are we not focusing on the schools in their complex?"

A call for the city to provide stronger policing, more services and more jobs was echoed again and again. Also, there was a general call for the residents to assume a greater role in "taking back" their neighborhoods from violent offenders who continue to hold it hostage.

"We've got to tell, we've got to snitch," said James. "We've got to get these bad apples out of our community. Manhood can't be defined by gun violence. Manhood is defined by leadership."