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Posts Tagged ‘Harlem’

Published in the Guardian on August 24, 2012 .  Read the full article here.  Video report – by Sarika Bansal, Katie Bowman, Ashley Morse, and Julia Ritz Toffoli – and excerpt below.

The summer of 2012 has sadly been colored with several high-profile mass shootings. Friday morning, nine people were injured in a shooting at the Empire State Building in Manhattan, New York. Nineteen were shot in Chicago last night. Earlier this summer, seven were killed in a mass killing at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin; three were killed at a shooting at Texas A&M University; and a massacre in a Denver-area movie theater resulted in 12 killed and 58 injured.

These high-profile shootings, though, are only a drop in the bucket of gun-related violence in the US. There are approximately 100,000 shootings in the US every year, and nearly 9,000 of those are fatal. Homicide is, in fact, the leading cause of death among non-Hispanic black male adolescents: these are gun crime‘s less visible victims.

Most gun violence receives far less media attention than the mass shootings have this summer. Friday’s shooting near the Empire State Building in the heart of the tourist zone of midtown Manhattan made headlines, but in other boroughs the toll of shootings and fatalities continued with no mayoral press conference: a 13-year-old boy wasfatally shot Thursday night in Brooklyn, in the same neighborhood where a 15 year-old was arrested last week for shooting four teens in a playground; and two men were shot on Thursday over a “food vendor turf war” in the Bronx.

These individual incidents, often in poorer urban neighborhoods, are generally overshadowed by more sensational mass shootings in city centers or suburbs. In absolute numbers, however, they are the real mass shootings – forming the vast majority of fatal gun violence cases.

The finer points of the second amendment and the gun control debate are remote from these areas, and policing methods like “stop-and-frisk” have provided no lasting solution, so several communities have started organizing themselves to prevent gun violence in their neighborhoods. One such, a non-profit organization named Snug (“guns” spelled backwards), works to reduce gun violence in a 72-block section of central Harlem, in upper Manhattan. The area, which contains three housing project buildings and approximately 60 gangs, has long been a hotbed for violent crime. Snug mediates conflict among “high-risk youth”, helps young people find employment, and when necessary, intervenes in violent situations.

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Published in The Atlantic on Tuesday, April 3, 2012. Read the full article here. An excerpt is pasted below.

A man ponders a potato chip purchase in an East Harlem bodega. Photo credit: Sarika Bansal

“Healthy food in bodegas?” asked Ibrahim Hilou, owner of a convenience store in Central Harlem. “You’re wasting your time. Go 96th and down. Over here, they like it sweet. I made a coffee today with eight sugars.”

Like most bodegas in New York City, Hilou’s store is relatively small — the customer area measures about 400 square feet — and its shelves are stocked with non-perishable goods like potato chips and canned soup. The refrigerators are filled with artificially sweetened beverages, full fat milk, and beer. A counter sells hot sandwiches lathered with mayonnaise and cheese. The register is decorated with lottery tickets and candy bars.

Meanwhile, in a neglected corner, a self-standing metal shelf contains an assortment of fruits and vegetables. The bananas are overly ripe and the potatoes are of poor quality. Few people buy produce in Hilou’s shop; most of the onions end up in breakfast sandwiches, the store’s most profitable product.

New York City has over 10,000 bodegas like Hilou’s. In some New York neighborhoods, particularly lower income ones, bodegas are often the default option for groceries. In parts of Brooklyn, they comprise over 80 percent of food retail (PDF).

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