The week-long citywide celebrations — co-organized by LIFE Camp, a Jamaica-based anti-violence community group — seek to “promote peace in memory of Martin Luther King, Jr. and all those New York City has lost to violence,” the group said in a statement.
Despite recent incidents, the group which has developed a model to reduce youth violence in the neighborhood by trying to engage people and going to crime scenes to convince gang members not to retaliate against each other, said there are reasons to celebrate.
Last month, the organization marked a milestone as its target area in South Jamaica had no shootings in 365 days.
“No shootings somewhere means there can be no shootings everywhere. The model is working,” said Erica Ford, the founder of LIFE Camp.
“… we know we can’t stop every act of violence," Ford added. "But maybe we can try to stop one evil, one act of violence, and work from there. That’s what Peace Week is all about.”
Councilman Daneek Miller, who represents the area, said Peace Week serves to "celebrate and demonstrate peace as a lifestyle."
"This is a great opportunity for advocates and young people to come together and it is particularly notable as we are kicking off on Dr. King’s birthday — a man who lived peacefully, but died by the gun,” Miller said.
A number of events have been scheduled throughout the city during Peace Week, including several in Jamaica.
On Saturday, Jan. 16, neighborhood teens will participate in Youth Memorial Basketball Event “Ballout 4 JRock,” in honor of Jihad Jackson, a 16-year-old boy fatally shot on New Year’s Eve.
The event will take place at Eagle Academy for Young Men at 171-10 Linden Blvd. at 7 p.m.
Next Thursday, Jan. 21, the Jamaica Center Business Improvement District will host “Community Conversation.” The event, at the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning at 153-10 Jamaica Ave. (from 3 to 5 p.m.), will give locals an opportunity to discuss their concerns about violence in the community, but also to “send a message of peace [and] encourage peer leadership, while showing that Downtown Jamaica can exist without violence,” the organizers said.
Carol Maraj of the Carol Maraj Domestic Violence Foundation and mother of rapper Nicki Minaj, and Erica Ford of LIFE Camp are expected to participate in the discussion.