New York State lawmakers are pouring $200,000 into anti-violence programs that serve Central Brooklyn neighborhoods affected by high rates of gun violence.
State Senator Zellnor Myrie and Assemblymember Diana C. Richardson announced the funding on Friday in response to the recent shootings in Brownsville and Crown Heights and called on Governor Andrew M. Cuomo to increase funds for community groups that work to prevent street violence.
"It is as though we are crying out for the state of New York to pay attention to the crisis that is happening here in Central Brooklyn," said Richardson. "We are asking for crisis money to be released today. We are asking for the kind of response we saw to the opioid crisis, to which the state responded with over $5 million in employment training, education and medical assistance, but the demographic is different here in Central Brooklyn."
Zellnor sourced the funding from a state program titled Operation SNUG (guns spelled backward), a cure violence model that treats gun violence as a public health crisis.
SNUG programs utilize grassroots neighborhood outreach, public awareness campaigns and community mobilization to engage youth to interrupt disputes before they spiral out of control. In addition to the street outreach workers and violence interrupters employed by the program, Operation SNUG partners with community leaders, local activists, faith-based leaders and law enforcement officials to prevent violence.
"We know that gun violence only emerges when hope has been lost," said Myrie. "We know that for our communities to thrive, they need strong schools, churches and community centers. Today, we are proud to invest in communities that bring peace and hope to our community and to prevent further tragedy, we demand that the governor's office does the same."
Among the community partners who will be benefitting from the new funding are the 67th Clergy Council in East Flatbush, Save Our Streets in Crown Heights, the Brownsville Community Justice Center, the Brownsville In Violence Out, Brownsville Think Tank Matters and Brownsville Elite Learners.
"Brownsville knows resilience. The fabric of this community is held together by people who face difficulties, but persevere by coming together," said Deron Johnston, director of the Brownsville Community Justice Center. "This emergency funding is a much-needed call to action and an investment in a community in need of healing and opportunity."
The announcement comes days after Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged $9 million to support anti-violence initiatives in Brownsville.