2017-12-13 / Features

Urban Upbound Gathers Community To Counter Violence


Bishop Mitchell Taylor, co-founder and CEO of Urban Upbound, speaks at a gathering of city officials, including City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer, resident association presidents, religious leaders, partners and residents, gathered in front of the Ravenswood houses to protest violence in their community. Bishop Mitchell Taylor, co-founder and CEO of Urban Upbound, speaks at a gathering of city officials, including City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer, resident association presidents, religious leaders, partners and residents, gathered in front of the Ravenswood houses to protest violence in their community. Urban Upbound and Bishop Mitchell Taylor, city officials, resident association presidents, religious leaders, partners and residents gathered together on Wednesday, December 6, in front of Ravenswood houses to say, “Murder No More! Murder and violence in our neighborhoods must stop now.”

Organizers said, “The senseless killings among predominantly young African America men must stop. This past Saturday, Queensbridge houses resident Jerrel Lewis was shot on 36th Avenue and 14th Street in Ravenswood. He later was pronounced dead after being rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital.”

“It is a tragedy that another young black man has lost his life to gun violence,” said Bishop Mitchell Taylor, co-founder and CEO of Urban Upbound. “I think it’s important for us as a community, as a family of neighbors to come together and say that we’re no longer going to stand on the sidelines and allow this kind of vicious, malicious, fatal activity (to) continue in our communities. We must not become complacent and accept this as the norm for our neighborhoods.”

NYS Senator Michael Gianaris said, “While our nation’s capital is loosening gun laws, we must do all we can at the state and local level to avoid senseless shootings and violence. The crime and violence in our neighborhood must come to an end and our communities must be kept safe. I thank Urban Upbound for initiating this campaign.”

“It is important that we continue to create initiatives that help reduce crime in our neighborhoods and provide additional programs and activities for our youth,” said Assembly Member Catherine Nolan. “Thank you to Bishop Taylor’s leadership and Urban Upbound for providing these very important services to our community.”

“I am on the verge of tears and it’s just very difficult for me to understand the whole concept of why they did this but at the same time they need to put down the guns, pick up the pens and books and read and learn instead of doing this. This is not how we have to live. We won’t exist if this continues,” said Carol Wilkins, Resident Association President of Ravenswood Houses.

“We need to unite as loving, caring communities and people and put that fight in the right place which is to save our homes,” said Ann Cotton Morris, Resident Association President of Woodside Houses and citywide Chair. We must create ways to live in a clean, safe environment in harmony that we can be proud to call home. This is the responsibility of all of us from our youth to our seasoned residents. Let’s come together and have a conversation about how we can begin to change the face of NYCHA to a positive place to live.”

“This is a sad occasion. We need to learn how to get into the ears and the hearts of the people that live on these premises,” said Claudia Coger, Resident Association President of Astoria Houses. We have our children that walk around calling our homes ‘the hood.’ They don’t really understand what a hood is. A hood is our covering. That’s what we do. If you are a part of a hood you should be covering each other, taking care of each other, caring for each other, protecting each other’s lives – but we’ve lost that battle with our young people. We have to get back together and stand in unity.”

“Jerell Lewis was one of our participants at 696 Build Queensbridge. We worked with this young man for some time. I saw his transformation,” said K. Bain, Program Manager of 696 Build Queensbridge. “We deserve the truth from those creditable messengers and people who have been through things so I’m with the movement that the Bishop is putting forth. 696 Build Queensbridge is a start and Bishop, you hit it on the head. We can’t do it all. Sometimes we look at law enforcement and say do more. We call them for everything. It’s not fair, right? We need an entire community to galvanize and come together to make these changes. The same thing goes for a cure violence site. We are but 5, 6, 7 employees, for 6 blocks and 96 buildings. That’s a lot for us to do.”

“We need to look at Jerell and all these kids that are being murdered as our children because that’s what it is. This is not somebody else’s child because next, if we don’t put a stop to this, it will be my child,” said April Simpson Taylor, Resident Association President of Queensbridge Houses.

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