Community Draws Up Plan of Action to Defeat Violence in Harlem

By Jeff Mays on May 2, 2012 8:00am 

Michael Palma and Barbara Nikonorow are co-leaders of the Montefiore Park Neighborhood Association. The group is one of many working with the 30th Precinct to stem recent shootings in West Harlem, including one that happened a block from the park.
Michael Palma and Barbara Nikonorow are co-leaders of the Montefiore Park Neighborhood Association. The group is one of many working with the 30th Precinct to stem recent shootings in West Harlem, including one that happened a block from the park.
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DNAinfo/Jeff Mays

HARLEM — After two broad daylight shootings in the past three weeks, West Harlem community leaders are meeting with the commander of the 30th precinct to stop the violence.

Deputy Inspector Ruel Stephenson called the head-to-head after two men were shot at 5:30 p.m. on April 17 at Hamilton Place and West 141st Street.

Police said the shooting happened during a dispute between two rival youth crews. The injured were treated at Harlem Hospital.

And then on April 30, a woman was struck by a bullet at 7 p.m. at Broadway and 138th Street. Her injuries were not considered life-threatening. She was transported to St.Luke's Hospital for treatment.

"It's not unusual to hear gunshots go off at night and then hear young people running," said Michael Palma, a co-leader of the Montefiore Park Neighborhood Association.

Stephenson laid out a plan that called for an outreach program to help educate and mentor young people in West Harlem.

"What we heard in (Stephenson's) voice was a sense of frustration about there being a lot of talk and no action," Palma said of the meeting.

"He called for action and not just for talk."

Another meeting is planned for this week.

Brad Taylor, vice-chair of Community Board 9 said news of the shooting involving the youth crew on Hamilton Place was troubling after the events of last summer in Morningside Park. There was a shooting near a playground in the park and at the basketball courts.

"That's not the first time we've heard about these youth crews having grudges against one another," said Taylor.

"The activity of the youth crews is very much a concern of everyone. I've been worried for months what was going to happen when the weather warms up."

Palma said the group has already identified a few trouble blocks where they want to focus their efforts.

"We decided that we have to do something and come up with some plan or activity to keep our youth occupied during the summer months," said Palma.

Palma, whose group has been working for years to clean up Montefiore Park, said the shootings show why plans to double the size of the park by adding a plaza and increasing community events and use of the park is so important.

"While there are two shootings that happened recently, it's not like it was five or eight years ago," said Palma.

"Everybody at that meeting committed to make something happen and not just talk about it."

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