Tag Archive | "peace in our streets"

Fighting gun crime one flyer at a time

Ruben Diaz Jr.: "We are sick and tired of being held hostage in our apartments."

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. raced from door to door in the Monroe Housing Projects in Soundview last Saturday, knocking on doors, handing out flyers, imploring residents to help clear guns off the streets.

“We’re sick and tired of reading about shootings on a daily basis,” said Diaz Jr., dressed in a Peace In Our Streets t-shirt promoting the borough hall initiative that implores residents to call an anonymous hotline if they know about illegal guns.

“We are all sick and tired of being held hostage in our own apartments,” Diaz Jr. said. He lives in Boynton Avenue in Soundview, and is fearful when his son goes out at night to walk his girlfriend home across the street.

The 10-year-old program, funded in part with private donations, offers a $1,000 reward for tips that end in arrest. Diaz Jr. claims that the program resulted in 109 Bronx arrests in 2009 and 158 in 2010. He said that 79 guns were confiscated because of the hotline last year, up from 59 the year before.

Soundview in the 43rd Precinct of the Bronx has seen a spike in gun crime over the last two years. Arrests for felony assaults increased from 352 to 378 between last year and today, an increase of 7.4 percent.

“We need some uniformity in federal gun control laws,” Diaz Jr. said. “What we’re seeing is many of the guns in our streets that are killing our children are coming from Virginia and South Carolina.”

His remarks came a week after Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke out against the new Right-to-Carry Act, a bill that would allow licensed gun owners to carry concealed firearms over state lines.

Ruben Diaz Jr.: Knocking Doors for Peace from Mohammed Ademo on Vimeo.

Some residents were skeptical about the borough president’s approach. “Paying people in the community to rat or squeal on those who have guns is one thing, but we still have killings,” said Martin N. Danenberg, an education advocate. “I don’t have much confidence in the people all around to get the job done.”

Danenberg believes education is more effective than anonymous tipsters. “If you educate them and they realize they can earn money without using guns,” he said, “you won’t even have to pay them $1000!”

Still, Diaz believes the program is so worthwhile, he was willing to walk the halls of the Monroe project to promote it. Diaz Jr. believes the 15.6 percent jump in arrests for felonies can be attributed to illegal gun smuggling and the glorifying of violence in popular culture.

“They only give individuals record deals where they promote violence,” he said. “There has to be more of an option.”

Monroe residents were surprised and a little skeptical to see their borough president knocking on doors. Local resident Rhonda said Diaz Jr. knocked just as she was getting ready to leave the house.

“I was like, I’ll be nice,” said Rhonda. “But I’ve never seen him before a day in my life!”

Miriam Sanchez has lived in Monroe housing for 23 years. She supported the mayor’s recent campaign to increase the minimum sentence for firearms offences to three and a half years.

“Now, I don’t feel the three years is doing any justice either,” Sanchez said. “It’s not working. They need to get five years mandatory.”

Sanchez supports the Peace In Our Streets initiative. “The more that the public is aware that this is anonymous, they’ll come forward,” she said. “But too many times the people who witness crimes are afraid. We need to take that fear away.”

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