New campaign reaches out directly to communities to combat violence, especially illegal guns, in Bronx neighborhoods

After a successful launch two weeks ago in Wakefield, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., together with members of the Bronx Clergy Task Force, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence as well as elected officials and local community leaders, brought the “Peace in Our Streets” initiative to the streets of Highbridge.

Joining with dozens of volunteers and local community leaders, Borough President Diaz and others walked the streets handing out literature featuring information on how they could directly combat illegal guns and gun violence in their communities. In addition, Borough President Diaz himself led a group of volunteers through the Highbridge Houses, an area NYCHA development, where they knocked on doors and spoke to residents about safety issues in the area.

This new program conveys Borough President Diaz, religious leaders, law enforcement officials and other concerned citizens into direct contact with Bronx residents to discuss growing concerns about violence in their neighborhoods, especially the threat of illegal guns.

“This is an ongoing fight against violence and we are ready to keep fighting. I will continue this direct conversation with Bronx residents to learn from their experiences and to inform them about how they can help us to battle illegal guns and crime. This is just the beginning of a long fight and we are not planning to stop anytime soon,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

“As board chair, along with Community Board #4’s ‘Community That Cares’ campaign, we have chosen not to sit and be silent but offer our hand in partnership with Borough President Diaz in influencing change to make our borough a great place to live, work and worship.  His initiative, ‘Peace in Our Streets’ will aim to address the senseless deaths, absurd assaults, and a culture that is not indicative of the proud history of those who have survived through tumultuous times.  And for that reason, today, we stand in promoting productive, positive persons that are committed to helping our community move forward,” said Community Board #4 Chairman Rev. Wenzell Jackson, pastor of Mount Hermon Baptist Church.

“Many of us have been personally affected by guns and gun violence in the Bronx,” said Congressman José E. Serrano. “We all know the cost of illegal guns, and we must all do more to ensure that no more lives are cut short by gun violence.  By working together through the Borough President’s new ‘Peace in Our Streets’ Initiative, we are moving towards a day when there will be no more senseless shootings in our community.”

“Violence is an ailment that has plagued our communities for far too long. As we continue to tackle this issue, it is vital that we communicate directly with the residents who are living and working in the neighborhoods that see themselves affected on a daily basis.  I am proud to work with Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., my other fellow elected officials, law enforcement, community residents and advocates to promote peace and eliminate violence and illegal guns from our streets,” said Senator Jose M. Serrano.

“I am pleased to join Highbridge residents in working together to take back our community.  This is an important opportunity to build bridges to strengthen our families through education and empowerment.  I thank Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., the Bronx Clergy Task Force and Bronx Community Board #4 for their leadership and commitment in making Highbridge a priority to provide a safe environment for community residents and our youth,” said Assemblywoman Vanessa Gibson.

“As we walk and promote ‘Peace in Our Streets,’ our goal is not to assign blame but to re-enforce community involvement.  As district manager of Community Board #4 I am deeply concerned about the on-going senseless violence throughout our neighborhoods therefore, we must take personal responsibility in maintaining our own quality of life.  We are a community that cares and cannot allow these atrocious, senseless acts to define our neighborhoods,” said Community Board #4 District Manager Jose Rodriguez.

The “Peace in Our Streets” initiative is part of an ongoing effort by Borough President Diaz and his office to fight against gun violence in not only the Bronx, but across the City and State, which includes the hosting of a “National Day of Outrage” against gun violence in November 2009, the co-sponsorship of a gun buyback program, together with the NYPD and Bronx District Attorney Robert T. Johnson, that took roughly 1,200 guns off the streets in January 2010; and the ongoing meetings of the borough president’s youth council, which is co-sponsored by New Yorkers Against Gun Violence.