Public Safety in the Midst of Gang-Related Incidents

Official Press Release from Margaret Fountain-Coleman

We, the citizens of Yonkers, pray for the families of the victims and others that have been impacted by the recent acts of violence that continues to plague our community.

Yonkers as a community and local government must address the crisis that we are facing. There has been a steady uptick of violence amongst our young people within our local schools and in our community. It is only when we acknowledge what is before us that we can “Mobilize-Organize-Recognize-Educate” our community.

We have a responsibility to inform the public of the crisis that we face. Violence of any type is senseless. The horrific events which subsequently took the life of a young man on May 31st speaks to the true nature of what is plaguing our community. The commonality, both the accused and the weapon, found within this fatal incident, highlights the importance of community policing and intense educational programming to serve as channels for our community and more importantly for our youth.

As a former Public Defender investigator, I know all too well how violence can ravish a community and tear families apart. I’ve witnessed firsthand lives being altered because of gang violence. I’ve counseled young men and women who saw no other recourse but to join gangs because of the sense of disconnect from their communities.

Gang violence contaminates communities. The current administration suggests that as an urban city, like our neighboring communities, violent crime is to be expected; however, what community wants to normalize crime or criminal activity involving gangs? This type of mindset and approach cannot be our approach here in the City of Yonkers.

Cities of similar demographics have taken exhaustive measures to ensure safe communities. Yes, Yonkers Police Department Gang Task Force is working diligently to investigate and prevent gang related crimes and incidents. However, a more coordinated approach should be invested in to tackle our community’s gang crisis.

This approach would require reinvesting in the community policing model and creating a street safe model that targets hot spots within our city to develop presence and prevention in those communities. Not related to “stop-frisk” or over policing in black and brown communities, but rather, an intentional model that creates partnerships with the community schools, businesses, faith organizations, and neighborhood associations.

With this model, my administration will work towards strategically focusing on our youth, utilizing programs that incorporate the My Brother’s Keepers Program’s concept. MBK’s seems to identify young men early and shadow them from 3rd grade through high school. MBK’s mission is to identify and provide a nuanced approach to help change the trajectory of the lives of young men from underserved communities. Additionally, under my administration, we will invest the same resources in identifying young women who are also vulnerable to the gang culture and struggle in finding a sense of purpose and connection.

The health of our community must be a priority for all of us. We must first understand the importance of early intervention and identification. Our young people need a leader that sees all of them and understands the importance of saving their lives.It takes a village to raise a child. Collectively, we can turnaround the culture of violence within this community. We can do this by giving our underserved communities opportunities, investing in education, developing justice service programs, and fostering a culture that transcends all perceived barriers. If we are truly Yonkers ONE Community, then let’s stand together, work side by side, to create a future that isn’t a dream, but the reality for us all.

In closing, I want to offer my sincere condolences to the family of Daquon Powell and all the families who have been impacted by violence in our community.

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