Harlem Anti-Violence Activists Applaud Judge's Plea to End Gang Violence
HARLEM—Members of Harlem's anti-violence community applauded the comments of Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Edward McLaughlin when he urged Harlem residents to step up and stop the shootings and gang violence that have plagued the neighborhood.
McLaughlin's speech came Tuesday as he was sentencing members of the "2 Mafia Family" and "Goons on Deck" to stiff sentences for dealing drugs, carrying guns and shootings.
"If your relative is not doing homework, if you are not going to school and talking to their teacher, then you contribute to your child's and your community's destruction," McLaughlin said. "If you do nothing, you are complicit," he said.
McLaughlin also urged parents and other adults to search out the guns that may be hidden in their own homes.
"Unless a person acts to make certain that their home is gun-free, there is no other way to guarantee that police, armed with a search warrant, will not arrive at your door early some morning to remove it," said McLaughlin.
Jackie Rowe-Adams, co-founder of Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E.., said McLaughlin's comments resonate with what she has been saying for years.
"A strong message was sent. That's how I feel. I should have been sitting right by the judge," said Rowe-Adams. "Parents know where these guns are. I agree with the judge. A lot of parents are scared. They dont think about checking their kids' room."
McLaughlin said the amount of violence in Harlem was shocking. He said there were 244 shootings in Harlem between January 2010 and November 2011. Approximately 71 were gang-reated and more than half the victims were 19 years old or younger.
Rev. Vernon Williams, president of the Harlem Clergy Community Leaders Coalition, also agreed.
"The judge is echoing the sentiments and comments of people like myself who stand in front of cameras with other grass roots organizations. We are all saying the same thing: 'We know where the guns are and they are not coming from Mars.'"