A string of recent violent incidents involving New York City school students is causing worry and panic among parents in communities.
“Do something about gun violence, control it,” said Eve Hendricks.
The NYC School Safety Coalition, students and concerned community members rallied in front of P.S. 154 Harriet Tubman in Harlem Saturday to demand more safety in and around city schools, especially when it comes to gun violence in and around school grounds.
“We need to get these guns off the street,” said Yvette Ramos. “Our children should be able to come to school and be safe in school.”
What You Need To Know
- Activists and community members rallied in front of P.S. 154 Harriet Tubman in Harlem Saturday to demand for more safety in and around city schools
- The rally comes on the heels of a violent week that saw four students and a school security guard wounded by gun violence
- Demands from parents at Saturday’s event include more school safety agents and metal detectors in schools
Hendricks and Ramos were among the many demonstrators at Saturday’s event who are mothers who’ve lost children to gun and street violence.
Leandra Feliz, mother of Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz who was killed by gang members in an infamous and gruesome case of mistaken identity, was in attendance.
“Please help us,” she said. “We need to stop the violence. We need it. Please.”
“It could have happened 40 years, 20 years, 10 years ago, yesterday or even five years ago,” said Irene Estrada, who is a minister and the founder of Her Stories. “The hurt and the grief that these mothers go through is horrifying.”
The rally comes on the heels of a violent week for city students.
Two students and a security guard were shot outside of Williamsburg Charter High School in Williamsburg, Brooklyn Wednesday.
On Monday, two students were shot at a housing development a block away from the Grand Street Campus High School.
All of the victims of both shootings survived, the NYPD said.
Demands from parents at Saturday’s event include more school safety agents and metal detectors in schools.
“Mayor Adams, we need you to do whatever you have to do to keep our babies safe,” said Mona Davids, who represented the NYC School Safety Coalition at the rally.
Mayor Eric Adams addressed some of their concerns at a youth summit and resource fair following the rally.
“Safety means being proactive and intervention,” Adams said. “Intervention means having those officer’s partner with the school safety agents like these great programs that are here.”
“We need our police,” said Jackie Rowe-Adams.“ We are not going to defund no police. We need our police!”
Rowe-Adams is the founder of Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E, which advocates for non-violence and helps mothers who’ve lost children to the epidemic.
“Sometimes we can’t get out of bed,” she said. “Sometimes we have a lot of suicide. We have a lot of suicide parents. But when they come here they know they not alone.”
Saturday’s event was particularly emotional for Rowe-Adams. It fell on the anniversary of one of her son’s murder.
She lost two sons to gun violence decades ago. She said she keeps their pictures on a wall with other shooting victims.
“If I could help save one child’s life than my living won’t be in vain,” Rowe-Adams said.
“Listen to the mothers,” Davids said.
The NYPD said the agency is taking a number of steps to increase safety in and around schools.
“Student safety is a priority for the NYPD and we regularly monitor and evaluate crime conditions in and around schools. In response to recent incidents, the NYPD is increasing the number of Youth Coordination Officers (YCOs) citywide,” an NYPD spokesperson said in a statement. “These officers will be assigned to Sergeants who will supervise the YCOs. Additionally, precinct administrative personnel will be utilized to patrol dismissals at designated schools and we will ensure that Transit District School Safety Teams are strategically deployed.”