Dozens debated ways to calm gun violence during a town hall organized by councilman Dwight Boykins in Sunnyside Monday evening.
Just days after a drive-by gunman shot two children in Third Ward, once teary-eyed police, preachers and politicians talked change. Panelists minced no words.
“To save future 8-year-olds that may get shot in the head, if we do not unite, then we are just sitting up in here playing around,” activist Deric Muhammad said.
Councilman Boykins pressed the crowd for potential solutions. Responses ranged from increased gun control to giving children hope.
“(The problem is) the type of guns that’s on the street: these assault weapons,” Boykins said. “They’re creating problems and breaking up families.”
“Too many of us community people are just standing behind trying to lead from behind,” said Keith Connell, who lives in Sunnyside. “(There are) too many activists. If you want to act, go to Hollywood.”
“Why is that section (of the church auditorium) not full of gang members?” said Gary Monroe, a panelist. “We can talk all day. But we (are going) to have to talk to them. Who is going to go? We need a better school system, because we have to understand if we don’t fix this thing, we’re going to be like Newark. We’ll be like New Orleans. We’re going to be like Chicago.”
Rapper Scarface, who grew up in Sunnyside, honed his craft thanks in part to options he feels kids no longer have.
“When you took the music out the school you took the spirit,” Brad “Scarface” Jordan said. “The music is like our spirit. Let’s fund this music program again, guys. Let’s save our children. That’s all we got.”