BROOKLYN, NY — On a Sunday evening, 363 balloons released into the sky illuminated East New York’s Van Siclen Avenue and Linden Boulevard in colors of green, orange and white, as the crowd celebrated 363 days without any shootings or killings in the “notorious part of town,” as Nayaba Arinde describes it in an article for the Amsterdam News on the celebration.
The feat, celebrated on July 21, comes thanks to the efforts of Man Up! inc., a social service community organization whose grassroots efforts have intervened in potential violent exchanges with “peaceful communication” to much success in the Brooklyn neighborhood.
Their own safety notwithstanding, the grassroots workers show up at the sites of altercations and squash the conflicts. It is an Operation Ceasefire (Chicago) model, which has proven successful for several years and has had supporters nationwide asking why it has not been adopted and funded by city, state and federal governments nationwide.
The key behind the organization’s success, says Mitchell, is bringing some positivity to a struggling area – and not to mention, a special word.
Mitchell acknowledges that Man Up mediation and resolution tactics are what have tempered the violence in the targeted catchment area. Bringing a positive attitude to an environment of high unemployment and complex housing and education issues has created a different atmosphere.
The local men and women who patrol the neighborhood greet residents and each other with “Hotep,” the African word for peace. The beauty is to hear the young people say it too, automatically, without prompting.
It speaks to the positive and thorough influence Man Up has had and continues to have on the people it comes in contact with; and if you count the summer camps and after-school programs, that is a lot of people. Servicing around 20,000 people, their anti-gun violence and conflict resolution initiatives go alongside their housing and employment programs.
For the complete story, visit Voices of NY.