In May 2010, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) reported that the number one cause of death for male African-American children and teens aged 12 to 19 is HOMICIDE! Elected officials – especially black leaders – have a moral responsibility to address this national emergency. Congressman Charles Rangel (D-NY) recently spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Cheryl Blue, CBN’s Managing Editor, about Harlem’s handgun crisis.
On November 29, 2011, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Edward McLaughlin took Harlem residents and leaders to task for the area’s rampant shootings. Calling Harlem’s gun violence “the responsibility of that community,” he said leaders who are sick of “pools of blood on the block” should encourage residents to purge their homes of guns.
The Justice spoke while sentencing Jaquan “Jay Cash” Layne, 21, leader of Harlem’s violent 137th Street crack gang, and members of his crew to terms of up to 20 years to life. But the sentences were overshadowed by McLaughlin’s sobering words to a community under siege.
According to the New York Post, McLaughlin said that in an 11-month period (Jan. 2011-Nov. 2011), Harlem’s five precincts recorded 244 shootings (34 resulting in death), with 91 of the victims aged 19 or YOUNGER.
At odds with the Post’s reporting was DNA Info.com, which reported that McLaughlin cited 244 shootings since Jan. 2010 (not 2011), making the pertinent time frame 23 months, not 11. DNA also reported that the Justice indicated that more than half of the 244 victims were 19 or younger, and that at least 71 of the shootings were gang-related, though he acknowledged that that number was probably a low estimate given the community’s general lack of cooperation with the police.
We contacted Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s office for verification of the numbers and time frame. They eventually received confirmation from the NYPD that the statistics run from Jan. 2010 (not 2011). (We held this story for several days while we awaited the DA’s confirmation because we are dedicated to bringing our readers the most accurate information possible.)
While the time framemay have been murky, what is not in dispute is that Harlem is now two communities: One is a gentrified enclave of well-heeled white professionals who are safely ensconced in new luxury high-rise co-ops. The other is a terror zone that youth gangs have turned into a modern-day OK Corral for black residents, one where indiscriminate gunfire routinely claims innocent bystanders like Christopher Owen, a 13-year-old slaughtered by a gunman who fired into a crowd of teens at a Harlem barbecue.
Since CRISIS is the only word to describe the daily subjection of innocent children to the horror of gunfire, we wondered why the much-needed call to action was issued by a white jurist rather than by Harlem’s black elected officials. After all, those leaders lost little time rushing downtown to loudly support the mostly white, middle-class, Occupy Wall Street demonstrators . So why have those same leaders remained silent while their own community is turned into a killing field? We decided to direct our inquiry to Congressman Charles Rangel, representative of Harlem’s 15th District for Continue reading