Clarke troubled by ‘epidemic of gun violence’

US Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke addresses patrons.
Photo by Nelson A. King

Stating that every day, in communities across America, too many people are injured, maimed or killed through gun violence, United States Congressional Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (D-Brooklyn) says she is deeply troubled by what she characterized as “the epidemic of gun violence” that is sweeping the nation.

“Too many families know the pain of losing a loved one from gun violence and crime,” said Clarke, representative for the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, in delivering the keynote address Friday night at the 2016 Gala Awards Ceremony, of Brooklyn’s Isaiah’s Temple of Mt. Hope Spiritual Baptist Church, at Paradise Manor on Avenue U in Brooklyn.

“Violence in any form, whether against law-abiding citizens or law enforcement officers, is unacceptable, intolerable, and must cease,” she added. “The loss of life, and the pain that families endure, is something that we must do everything to end this scourge, the assault on humankind.”

As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Gun Violence Task Force, Clarke said she has worked on proposals to develop several policies that will “reduce the incidence of gun violence in our communities and across our nation.”

She has sponsored H.R. 5080, the Hadiya Pendleton and Nyasia Pryear-Yard Gun Trafficking & Prevention Act of 2016, which would enforce gun-trafficking as a federal crime “and would protect us all.”

In order to improve and heal from the trauma of violence in communities, the congresswoman urged community, religious and political leaders, as well as law enforcement officers, activists and “all people of good will” to “work together and find a solution to this crisis.

“What unites us is greater than what divides us,” she said.

In June, Clarke said she was proud to join her fellow Democratic colleagues in sitting on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives in demanding the Republican-led Congress to “bring up sensible gun control / violence prevention legislation, and allow a vote to expand background checks, close the gun show laws and ban assault weapons.”

The historic action was led by civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia).

“Today, I ask you to stand up so that injustice, inaction will stand down,” said Clarke, adding that it is her hope that Mayor de Blasio’s recent appointment of James O’Neill as the new New York Police Department (NYPD) commissioner “will be a real benefit to our city.”

Clarke also hoped that O’Neill’s appointment will help to make “substantial strides towards building greater trust between the police, our community, and advancing more diversity and inclusion in the NYPD.

“Now, during this crucial time, we must lift our voices,” she said. “I urge you to go to your local precinct, community board and council meetings to engage in the discussions that affect our communities and to write to your elected officials about the needs of the community.

“I also encourage you to speak up and speak out during this important time in our nation,” she added. “Do not adhere to the divisive discourse being battered around. Stay true to what matters – family, love, compassion for your neighbor.

“With your help, we can ensure that the dialogue is not tainted by the denigration of others, but infused with empathy for all,” Clarke continued.

Last month, in an evening that was billed to celebrate exclusively the men who have contributed significantly to the development of the community, most politicians used the Black History Month Gala Awards Ceremony, organized by the Progressive Democrats Political Association (PDPA), at Tropical Paradise Ballroom on Utica Avenue in Brooklyn, to express outrage over an upsurge in racist attacks and gun violence across the nation.

“This has been a difficult week in Congress. It has also been a difficult week in the U.S.,” said Brooklyn Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, representative for the 10th Congressional District, referring to the fatal shootings of Alton Sterling, in Louisiana, and Philandro Castile, in Minnesota, which sparked outrage and protests in communities across the country, including Dallas, TX.

“One of the reasons behind the Black Lives Matter movement is that we want young Black men to grow up and to be like any of us,” added Jeffries, a member of Congressional Black Caucus leadership and the US House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee, at the PDPA event, founded and headed by the trailblazing former New York City Council Member Dr. Una S.T. Clarke.

“We support the police. We think that the overwhelming number of police officers are there to protect and serve, but we want to make sure that those who are [rogue cops] are held accountable,” he continued.

Earlier, Jeffries, in a statement, said the “unspeakably tragic events in Dallas, suburban Minneapolis and Baton Rouge shock the conscience.”

Speaking at the same event, State Assemblywoman Diana Richardson, representative for the 44th Assembly District in Brooklyn, said she is the mother of an African American son, “and we’re going through a lot.

“We’re under attack,” she told the ceremony. “This is a pivotal moment.”

Her Assembly colleague Latrice Walker said: “They’re also killing our elected officials. We’re all under siege.

“There are spiritual wickedness in high places,” she added.

Turning to the seven honorees, Public Advocate Letitia James said “these fine men are the reason why Black Lives Matter.”

City Comptroller Scott Stringer also addressed the ceremony, saying: “We’ll root out all the racists. We’ll stand together.”

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