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Civil rights leaders denounce both New York and local shootings


A coalition of L.A. civil rights leaders and gang intervention activists held an anti-gun rally Monday, on the heels of Saturday’s White supremist hate killings in Buffalo, N.Y. and Friday’s South LA shooting of a mother and child.

Most of the gang workers at the event, which was held at the Stentorians Fire Station parking lot in South LA, have been fighting for decades in the struggle and mentioned that their work in the community has helped to lower the rate of shootings — from 1,400 back in 1992 to fewer than 400 today.

“But even one is too many,” said organizers, who believe each shooting hurts the collective African-American community across the country. They believe community-led expertise and collaborative partnerships are the solution to community violence. Those organizers included a number of practitioners who are on the ground facing violent issues every day.

“We are outraged because last Friday, a 20-year old female and her 2-year-old baby were shot, they were shot in broad daylight,” said civil rights activist and community organizer Najee Ali. “We’re going to condemn that. Not just that shooting, but all shootings.”

Rally organizers called for a moment of silence for the Harvard Park shooting victims and the victims of Buffalo’s tragic shooting of 10 people and noted that the entire Black community nationwide has been traumatized.

“We’re here to call for an end to gun violence, and we also want legislation,” Ali said.

A representative from Councilman Curren Price’s office acknowledged the various groups who are dealing with the community’s gang situations and are trying to create some stability.

“To be quite frank, I just don’t think our intervention workers get enough credit for saving lives,” said Jasmine Desenclos, field deputy representative from Eighth District Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson’s office. “It takes a collaborative, it takes a village.”

Akil Basheer, who is a first responder working with Professional Community Violence Intervention-Crisis Abatement, said the group is part of a coalition currently working with the White House on the issue of community violence.

“We intend to engage at all levels, but most importantly we’ve got to realize that a gun is an instrument of death that can’t do anything by itself,” Basheer said, noting that interventionists work to change the thinking processes of the people who want to pick up and utilize that gun.

“The gun is an extension of the arm, but it’s what controls the arm that causes the gun to do the damage,” Basheer said. “It has to be a collective, mass effort, to where the mentality is changed, the access to the gun is reduced and the mindset of what so many entities are driven by, which is the nexus of violence  that controls this country — has to change.”

Basheer said he and other interventionists  are committed to saving Black communities. After giving a heated talk, Basheer shook his head, but he said he would not apologize for his passion.

“Passion and drive is what keeps you alive,” he said. “We have committed to give our communities 100 percent.”

A number of credible, committed individuals and other groups were represented at the rally, including Cease for Peace Los Angeles, Community Build, Chapter Two, Southern California Crossroads, California Los Angeles Peace Builders Collaborative and the Nation of Islam.

“We must stop the flow of this carnage,” they said. “It is going to take all of us in a collective army to move this process forward.”