After encouraging months of protests against police brutality around the country, the Rev. Al Sharpton is again turning his focus to the gun violence that plagues urban and minority communities during the summer. Sharpton, president of the New York-based National Action Network, announced Friday the locations for his “Occupy the Corners” initiative, an annual community action that enlists residents and volunteers to patrol their neighborhoods at night.
In several New York City locations, as well as a city in New Jersey, Sharpton has designated neighborhood captains to stand with residents at “hotspot” intersections from 9 p.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays. The leaders are expected to “engage youth, share resources, and have solution-driven conversations about ways to eliminate violence,” according to NAN.
This is at least the fourth year that NAN has planned the anti-violence initiative, and it comes as cities such as Baltimore and Chicago record spikes in gun-related homicides. Following both rioting and peaceful protests in Baltimore over the police-involved death of Freddie Gray, police officials said the city saw 43 murders last month, its deadliest May since 1970. NAN has not announced an Occupy the Corner project in Baltimore.
Sharpton was expected to lead a march and speak during a rally Saturday at Mount Shiloh Baptist Church in Hartford, Connecticut, where 12 shootings, four of them fatal, and a deadly stabbing occurred in just about two weeks' time, NAN said.
Critics of Sharpton have long complained that he puts too much emphasis on the behavior of police while neglecting the violence perpetrated by members of the community. NAN said it “hopes to begin a cycle of stronger community engagement that will thereby help to eliminate violence” with the Occupy the Corners project.
Kickoff events for Occupy the Corners gatherings begin at 4 p.m. EDT Saturday in various locations, and then resume at the scheduled 9 p.m. times throughout summer. The locations for New York City and New Jersey are listed below.
Manhattan: At the Hamilton Houses at 141st Street and Seventh Avenue, led by captains Iesha Sekou and Ashley Sharpton; the Grant Houses at 125th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, led by captains Akil Rose and Taylonn Murphy; at 119th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard, led by captain Ricky Jones; and at 110th and 111th streets and Fifth Avenue, led by Pastor Vernon Williams.
Brooklyn: At Fulton Street and Marcus Garvey Boulevard, led by captain “Davina”; and at Sutter Avenue and Mother Gaston Boulevard, led by the Rev. Kevin McCall.
Queens: In front of the McDonald's at Jamaica and Parsons avenues, led by captain Kevin Livingston; and at Sutphin Boulevard and Archer Avenue, led by captain Erica Ford.
In Staten Island, Occupy the Corners events will take place at Jersey Street and Benziger Avenue, led by captain Cynthia Davis. In Elizabeth, New Jersey, the event gathers at Third and Pine streets, led by captain Salaam Ismial.