Grandmother's Love Over Violence, a group composed of primary-caregiver grandmothers committed to a safer community and allied with the NYPD, has become a key partner in reporting crime in the neighborhood and helping to set record lows in Brooklyn crime, Kelly said.
"They're getting the word out, they're showing they're focused on it, they're showing they're concerned about it," Kelly said. "It translates into lives saved. Mostly young lives."
The rally, which began at Stuyvesant Avenue and Pulaski Street in Bed-Stuy and ended with a barbecue at the 81st Precinct station house, highlighted the collaboration with Grandmother's LOV as part of a larger Brooklyn clergy coalition started in 2010, Kelly said.
The commissioner added that Grandmother's LOV has turned out to be one of the most important parts of that coalition.
"[It's] a manifestation of an ongoing concern and attention to public safety," Kelly said, adding: "It's paying off."
About 30 grandmothers from the organization were in attendance, flanking Kelly and officers from the 81st Precinct as they sang songs, prayed together and chanted "Put down the guns, stop the violence. Grandmother's LOV: love over violence."
One of the grandmothers, Inez Rodriguez, said her tenant organization has been "blessed" by a lack of recent shootings, and praised the officers helping to tone down local violence.
"This is personal," said Rodriguez, president of the Boulevard Houses Tenant Association. "We are tired of going out to funerals and seeing our young boys and our young ladies."
The Rev. Conrad Tillard, senior pastor at Nazarene Congregational Church at 506 MacDonough St., who is running for the City Council to represent central Brooklyn, praised the group, saying that Kelly "tapped into a true power source" by enlisting the grandmothers.
"I've been some places and I've seen some things," Tillard said. "Were it not for my grandmother's prayers I probably wouldn't be here today."