A Letter to the Chancellor
Dear Chancellor David C. Banks,
The Bedford-Stuyvesant Community has seen a severe increase in gun violence that is tearing the fabric of our society and directly targeting the lives of our children and young people, with the most recent incident yesterday involving a 14 year-old boy who attends school in District 16. The wealth of the culture and history of Bedford-Stuyvesant is marred by violence and bullets storm our neighborhood day and night, indiscriminately affecting all of our lives. It is necessary to engage in an immediate conversation about the issues that our community faces and how we can further support our children to learn about gun violence and provide the resources that are necessary to ensure that education – without the fear of another violent incident involving guns – is at the forefront.
Gun violence is an issue that has affected me very closely, with the loss of four family members at the hands of this infectious malady. In 1996, my uncle and cousin were killed by gun violence at the ages of 24 and 16, respectively, in the Van Dyke Houses in Bronwsville. In 2016, my brother, 29, was killed in front of 666 Hancock Street between Malcom X Boulevard and Patchen Avenue. In 2020, I lost my nephew at 159 Chauncey Street, at the corner of Malcom X Boulevard, at the age of 22.
After the death of my nephew, on November 12, 2020 we held a press conference regarding gun violence in District 16. A parent, who is also a criminal journalist, posed an important question that had no real answer at the time. He asked, “what is the Department of Education doing around educating students in gun violence?” Over the past year, bordering the last two academic years, we have had conversations with the Office of the Congress Member Hakeem Jeffries, Senator Jabari Brisport, and Assemblywoman Stefani Zinerman, to devise ways in which we can set the course to bring educative discussions about gun violence into our schools. As essential as math, English, science, and arts, educating our students in gun violence, as has started to happen in some of our schools, creates life changing learning that they can benefit from now and through which they can live to continue to benefit in the future.
We cannot watch idly as gun violence robs our families of peace and expose our children to serious risk each day. That is why, the District 16 Community would like to have a conversation with you to talk about the steps that you foresee taking to continue to combat gun violence in our schools. With the sense of urgency that this situation merits, I respectfully request a virtual meeting with you and members of the Community of District 16 who have been working to address and uproot gun violence, to discuss the connection between gun violence and education in our community. This crisis needs to stop and now is the time to start the conversation that will achieve an end to it.
Please email CEC16@schools.nyc.gov with the dates and times that would be most convenient for you to meet with our community, or with any questions that you may have.
NeQuan C. McLean President, CEC 16