Jamaica parents demand an end to gun violence

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Photo gallery

Adele Ruffins, the mother of murder victim Tysheen Coakley, brushes away tears as she lies on the ground. Photo by Christina Santucci
Dozens of people lie on Parsons Boulevard in Jamaica as part of a rally against gun violence. Photo by Christina Santucci
Adele Ruffins, whose son Tysheen Coakley was killed in 2012, hugs Shenee Johnson, mother of another murder victim, Kedrick Ali Morrow. Photo by Christina Santucci
Monica Cassaberry, Brigitte Hoggard, Taylonn Murphy, Shanta Merritt, Patricia Wrencher, Shenee Johnson, Thomas Sapp and Adele Ruffins all lost children to gun violence. Photo by Christina Santucci
Dominique Sharpton addresses the crowd gathered at Parsons Boulevard and Jamaica Avenue. Photo by Nat Valentine
Participants hold hands for a prayer. Photo by Christina Santucci
Patricia Wrencher holds a poster in memory of her son, Andre Saunders, a bus driver who was killed in 2009. Photo by Christina Santucci
Dozens of people lie in Sutphin Boulevard as part of a rally to protest gun violence. Photo by Nat Valentine

“Enough is enough” was the message of dozens of relatives who have lost loved ones to gun violence in Jamaica Saturday afternoon.

The National Action Network, a civil rights organization with chapters nationwide, held a “lie in” demonstration in downtown Jamaica to commemorate those lost and to raise awareness of the issue.

“It is a shame that on a beautiful day like today, we have to be out here in our communities, telling our own people to stop the gun violence and to stop shooting and killing each other,” said Victoria Pannell, 15, president of NAN’s New York City youth chapter. “It is not the answer to settle beef or to solve arguments. All gun violence is going to do is get you 20 years to life and make some poor family go through the trials and tribulations of burying a loved one.”

Demonstrators lay across the road Saturday, temporarily blocking traffic on Parsons Boulevard in between Jamaica and Archer avenues. Among them was Kevin Livingston, founder of 100 Suits for 100 Men, an organization that helps convicted felons re-enter the job market.

“We’re tired of being reactive,” he said. “If we have to disrupt Jamaica’s economic engine to bring attention to the issue, it’s worth it.”

There have been 67 victims of gun violence in Queens South precincts this year so far and 658 shooting victims citywide during that time, according to NYPD statistics. This was a 9.5 percent citywide increase in the number of shooting victims from the same time last year.

Parents, siblings, aunts and uncles cried out countless names of those they knew who had died from gun violence.

“Since I lost my son, unfortunately, my circle of friends has become mothers that have lost their kids,” said Shenee Johnson, whose son, Kedrick Morrow, was gunned down in 2010. “The real question is not when are we going to stop the violence. The honest question to ask today if we don’t continue to do more, is who’s next?”

Morrow was killed following a dispute at a Springfield Gardens party, a month before he was going to graduate from high school.

Taylonn Murphy, whose 18-year-old daughter Tayshana was shot and killed in a Harlem housing development in 2011, attended the rally to show support for Queens parents who had lost children to gun violence.

“We don’t want anyone else to join the messed-up club we’re in,” he said.

Embattled state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Hollis) and his challenger, former Deputy Borough President Leroy Comrie, attended the rally and participated in the lie in.

“We are out here trying to stop the gun violence the way our ancestors fought segregation — only this time, we are doing the damage to ourselves,” Victoria Pannell said. “It is time for us to let young people know that picking up a piece of steel is not going to solve anything.”

Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at arobinson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Posted 12:00 am, July 18, 2014
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Reader feedback

anon from queens says:
Here is an idea... stop raising your sons to be thugs and start raising them to be nice young men who want a future for themselves! The Parents Sometimes need to stop blaming the government for all their problems and start looking at their own parenting skills! A Child is only the reflection of the Parents!
July 18, 2014, 4:50 am
Joe Moretti from Jamaica says:
This is all good to have this type of demonstration, but I don't think awareness needs to be raised, we are totally aware of how Jamaica has become the Wild Wild West. The BIG question is what kind of action is going to take place in this community and others like it. There was not one mention of that, not even by two leaders of Jamaica who attended, Senator Malcolm Smith and Leroy Comrie, who is running against Smith. You mean neither, who have been dealing with this issue in the community had nothing to say or was this just another publicity stunt for them, since it is election time. But I am not surprised, both have been leaders in this community for a very long time and this community is still dealing with the exact same problems be it shootings, killings, crime, garbage, etc. So you have to ask yourself, what are they doing and are they doing enough?

If not action is taken to deal with this problem, this will just continue over and over again.

Time for action and solutions, not talk, we have talked this subject to death over and over again. Talk is cheap.

July 18, 2014, 6:39 am
Fuzzy Dunlop from the corner says:
Why do you hate black people so much, Joe?
July 18, 2014, 8:05 am
parents in control from queens says:
How about parents being responsible for raising their kids. Not the city's job. You are not able then use birth control.
July 18, 2014, 8:20 am
Joe Moretti from Jamaica says:
Fuzzy Dunlop from the corner says:
Why do you hate black people so much, Joe?

You are fuzzy alright, in your mind. I mean where anywhere does my comment say "I hate black people so much"? I am making a statement about the violence in the Jamaica community and you like so many others want to turn it into an attack on black people.

July 18, 2014, 9:27 am
marie from queens says:
totally agree with anon and joe !!
July 19, 2014, 12:40 pm
Mills from Queens says:
I agree with Joe as well. He is absolutely right. I didnt find his comment the least bit racist and I am black (even though that shouldn't matter). Stop blaming the government for what we can change ourselves. Parenting skills play a MAJOR part in this. Some parents are too worried about a man/woman, their clothes, hair/nails or what party they're going to tonight to take an interest in their children's upbringing. Again, not all parents but some. But that's all it takes...
July 19, 2014, 1:42 pm
Sara from Jamaica says:
I say they bring back stop and frisk.
July 20, 2014, 7:19 am
Joe Moretti from Jamaica says:
Fuzzy Dunlop from the corner says:
Why do you hate black people so much, Joe?

By the way Fuzzy, why do American black people hate American black people so much, they seem to allow such nonsense to continually go on in their communities while mostly every other group of people in this country would not.

It seems that excuses and placing blame everywhere else except on oneself seems to be the motto. That type of thinking is outdated and self destructive,which has been proven over the years.

July 20, 2014, 9:43 am
Fuzzy Dunlop from the corner says:

A lot of your comments and writings have racist undertones.

But that aside, it is unfair to criticize parents of kids who have been shot up for trying to make positive change on an issue dear to their hearts. You're cliched argument of "talk is cheap" is pretty hypocritical considering all you do is whine on the internet all day about how much garbage there is in your neighborhood.

How many park cleanups have you organized? How many times have you ran for office? Is there anything you have actually put into action to try to solve the problems you're constantly blablabla-ing about?
July 20, 2014, 12:48 pm
Joe Moretti from Jamaica says:
Fuzzy Dunlop from the corner says:

A lot of your comments and writings have racist undertones.


Point the racist undertones out on the comments I have made, show me one example on comment I have made, since you stated that my comment had a racist undertone, show me one instance in my comment with this article, just one.

As far as another ridiculous statement, I never criticized the parents, my comment of "talk is cheap" goes to the powers to be. So again, you are off the money. Learn to actually read what someone writes instead of twisting words to suit you agenda.

Me on the other hand have done many things to help clean up my community, I have personally along with other have cleaned up various vacant lots/homes and other areas, plus my "blabbering" you spoke about has brought much needed attention to the issue at hand and has helped cleaned up many trouble spots. My blabbering about the illegal clothing bins dumped in our community has gotten many taken away working with DOS and the 103rd precinct. Me and others have worked with the 103rd in removing illegally placed cars by many of the auto body shops along Merrick Blvd.

Politics do not interest me at all.

Now why don't you talk about your efforts you have made in Jamaica. I am listening FuzzMan. Why don't you speak up against the Jamaica elected officials (all black by the way) who have done so very little as far as quality of life in Jamaica, see that is their job, not mine.

July 20, 2014, 6:44 pm
not about you Joe from queens says:
Joe, some of the comments were about the article, not about your words. Parents are the first step towards change.
July 21, 2014, 2:35 pm

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