Coney Islanders rallied in the wake of the neighborhood’s latest senseless shooting on Wednesday, banning together under signs that read “Life is a gift” and “We stand for change” to make one simple demand — stop shooting us!
“We are out here because we’re deeply in love with our community, and we want to make sure that our community is safe,” said Ronald Stewart, who supervises the outreach arm of the Coney Island Anti-Violence Collaborative, which helped organize the protest. The local collaborative educates resident about de-escalation tactics, provides counseling, and trains people to deal with trauma, according to its website.
The recent tragedy occurred on July 7, when a shooter fired a stray bullet that burst through the window of a local mom’s W. 28th Street home between Mermaid and Surf avenues, slamming into her leg at 11 a.m.
Paramedics rushed the 44-year-old victim to Lutheran Hospital in stable condition, while police nabbed a suspect the following day, cops said.
Sunday’s is the eighth shooting within the 60th Precinct, which includes Coney Island, Brighton Beach, and Sea Gate, in a year marred by gun violence. In 2018, the precinct reported only two such incidents, according to police data.
The borough at large is doing slightly better than Coney, with 143 shootings this year compared to 141 total for 2018, but the slight degrade in violence has failed to prevent other rallies, including a demonstration in Bedford-Stuyvesant last month.
On Wednesday, protesters urged community members to spread the word about gun safety and to help their loved ones to get counseling to prevent escalations in violence. Some speakers even raised their voices to address residents in nearby housing.
“Stop looking out behind the window, stop hiding behind the Playstation, and pull somebody back from the edge,” said Derek Latif Scott, the director of Operation Hood, another anti-violence initiative that co-hosted the protest.
And despite the uptick in shootings, activists argued that the community could stop the attacks.
“We have the solutions,” said Stewart. “Talk to your neighbor. Talk to your children. Talk to your friends and family members and let them know that Coney Island is our home.”