As some in Brooklyn prepare for violence, others try to avoid it

Posted at 8:56 PM, Mar 22, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-22 20:56:50-04

(BROOKLYN) – The NYPD spent a good portion of Friday in Flatlands preparing for potential violence at the wake of Kimani Gray.

A few miles from the funeral home young men gathered together to discuss Gray as well as Thursday night’s officer involved shooting.

They also talked about proactive measures they can take to avoid the violence, “All of the things you’ve got to think about before you say ‘You know what bump that. I’m going out there.’ Because the moment that you put that (gun) on your person and you walk outside that door, no matter what you say, in the eyes of the real world and society you are wrong. You are in the wrong,” said Andre Mitchell in voice higher than normal during his lecture.

Mitchell was reminding the young men who voluntary make up his Man Up Program in Brooklyn the cold hard facts of life.

Meanwhile a short drive away, NYPD crime scene tape still littered the scene in Brownsville.  The NYPD says that on Thursday night gun toting thug Shaquille Reid pointed a gun at them.  The 20-year-old allegedly fired one shot from the chamber of an illegally owned Colt 45. No cop was hit, but Reid was shot in the hand then arrested.

The latest officer involved shooting comes less than two weeks after Kimani Gray was shot down by two NYPD officers sparking riots along Church Avenue in Brooklyn. Cops say the 16-year-old pulled out a gun prior to being killed.

Meanwhile the area that comprises the Man Up program has not experienced a shooting in 255 days. A record that Mitchell is proud to share. Impressive, as the area covers approximately ten square blocks in rigid East New York.  A place where gang signs are prominently displayed on the sides of businesses. When asked if there is any reason for a teenager or a twenty-year-old to have a gun in their hands, Mitchell quickly responds, “The answer is no. Of course there is no real reason why a teenager should have a gun in his hands.”

Mitchell shortly thereafter took a PIX 11 camera into his office basement and and introduced several 16 to 24-year-old engaging males, all dedicated to finding an outlet and earning a better life.  They candidly shared with the reality of how prevalent guns are on the streets.  When asked how quickly a gun can be attained, the response was disturbing, “5 seconds,” chimed one. Another said, “phone call.”

A phone call can secure an illegal firearm in seconds. This is their life. It’s what they want to get away from. They don’t want to become a stat wrapped around crime scene tape. Yet they admit it’s exiting this lifestyle is a daunting task, “The opportunities is limited for us, like so like, he got a gun because he is out on the streets selling drugs, that’s because there ain’t nothing really out here for us, there ain’t no opportunities given,” said one teen.

As a wake for Gray was only hours away, Mitchell reminds them they have already fought off the temptation of the streets, “You got to think about that consequence before you think about going and grabbing that gun.  Is it worth it? You guys are here because you obviously want something.”