Friday, October 31, 2014

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"National Night Out" Gets New Yorkers, Police To Build Stronger Community Ties

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Numerous events are being held across the city for the "National Night Out Against Crime," an effort aimed at raising crime and drug prevention awareness and strengthening police-community relations.

It was a block party with a purpose: Saying no to crime.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly traveled to Harlem for the 32nd Precinct's National Night Out event, saying the police and community must work together to prevent young people from falling victim to violence.

"Like you, we want to make sure they grow up safe and sound," said Mayor Bloomberg. "That's why we are working hard to make sure they have good schools, safe streets and bright futures. And that is what this night against crime is all about."

Attendees in Harlem spread the message "Peace is power." It was the same message over and over throughout the neighborhood. At the Polo Grounds, the group "Man Up in Harlem" plans to march through the public housing development every night until Labor Day, calling for peace.

"I want to stop the violence with the children," said one rallying resident. "They're shooting each other. These brothers are shooting each other. It doesn't make sense."

Rhonda Bennett's son was shot in the leg two weeks ago playing in the Rucker basketball tournament. She marched Tuesday.

"I hope it does make a difference because we need to put the guns down and pick up more books," she said.

When it comes to community relations, the police department is currently in a difficult situation. Many people in black and Latino neighborhoods are not happy with stop and frisk. But on the other hand, they're not happy with the gun violence in their areas either."

Harlem residents said gatherings like these can help.

"It shows that we are all people, we all care about each other, regardless if you're wearing a T-shirt or a uniform," said one attendee. "So this is a great opportunity for the community to interact with the police."

They said that cooperation needs to happen all the time, not just one night.

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