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Crisis: Teen shootings, stabbings,and summer concerns

MARCH 20: People gather for a vigil on a Brooklyn street corner outside of the deli where a young woman was fatally stabbed and her twin sister was wounded last weekend in a dispute on March 20, 2024. Police have said that 19-year-old Samyia Spain was fatally stabbed in the neck and chest, while her twin was stabbed in the arm. Witnesses have said the young women were attacked after they rebuffed a man’s advances. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

By Nayaba Arinde

The recent rash of teenage stabbings and shootings from Brooklyn to the Bronx has the community, activists, violence interrupter advocates, and city officials concerned about the summer.

“Our young people are in crisis struggling with violence and mental health,” Deborah Levine, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, told Our Time Press. The Community Engagement Officer for the City University of New York Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy said, “ I think even before COVID, our young people were feeling isolated, disconnected, unsupported. I think all of these things during the last four years have made our young people feel even more isolated. I think of the stigma around talking about anxiety and depression.”

There were three stabbings in New York City schools in Glen Oaks, Queens, Williamsbridge, Bronx, and Manhattan on Tuesday, May 14th, 2024. Three teens aged 15, 16, and 17-year-olds were treated in area hospitals.

“This society has us in conflict, and we need to resolve this stress, which is presented as unwarranted violence,” proclaimed activist Caleef Cousar. Speaking to Our Time Press, the founder of the community-focused Transitions Foundation added, “This is not our natural way of being, but the oppressive conditions our community is living under is changing how we are dealing with each other.

We need to talk to each other like we are community therapy.”
On Tuesday, May 7th, Makhi Brown, 16, was shot dead in SoHo as he tried to break up a fight between two fellow students. Police said that two males rode up on a CitiBike, and one shot into the crowd of over two dozen students, hitting Brown twice.


On the same day, a 17-year-old boy was wounded after being shot in NYCHA’s Amsterdam Houses in the Upper West Side.

In Williamsburg on Keap Avenue at around 4:30 p.m., two 15-year-old male teenagers were stabbed. Police were seeking two teens who reportedly fled the scene.
In Far Rockaway, Queens, police said four teens were stabbed in a melee. There were no fatalities, but four teens – three 15-year-olds and one 16-year-old went to the hospital for treatment.

The next day, Wednesday, in Brooklyn and the Bronx three 15-year-old boys survived being slashed in separate encounters. Outside a Bronx McDonald’s, two 15-year-old boys were stabbed.

In Sunnyside, Queens, 17-year-old Sara Rivera was stabbed in the neck and killed. Her 15-year-old friend has been charged with murder.
NYPD said that city crime figures are trending downwards. Their stats show that overall crime in the city went down in April by 4.9% compared to the same time in 2023. Perception may be battling with reality again.

“The behavior shown by the children is a direct result of the oppression faced by their parents and community,” activist Shaeed Muhammad told Our Time Press. The member of the Bed Stuy-based community and human rights advocacy December 12th Movement took the analysis deeper. “We tie it into the call for reparations in that 500 years of being under white supremacy and oppression, we have been psychologically damaged, and it leads to all kinds of expressions of mental disorders.


Franz Fanon speaks of the mental disorders that come as a result of colonial oppression. Now, our children are saddled with all these maladies, causing all these instances of children being injured and children being killed. The cure is resisting your oppression and making yourself psychologically stronger to rebuild your self-esteem and morale. The self-esteem of a people is expressed in the children.”

Saying that she had a gun pointed at her by a young person a couple of times, Ms. Levine explained that a few years ago, she was employed by the City of New York as a clinical director for a group home in the Bronx, and worked with local gangs to negotiate for peace and non-violence.

They were able to bring other Black and brown people with similar backgrounds, “who had been able to navigate through the system and came out in the streets with us. We mentored those young people. It wasn’t just enough to put them into programs, but we stayed with them coached them, and continued to support them.

Through that tenure of time, we were able to get over 30 young people to go to school in one form of fashion, whether it was a trade school, a two-year-old school, or a 4-year school. In some cases, some of those young people actually went on and got their masters. Some of those young people I still am in touch with still provide support as they navigate through the world of business, through the world of just being adults.”

There is more:
“I think society as a whole is struggling. When you think about what’s happening in Black and brown communities, we are fighting for survival. It’s the fear of stepping outside your door. You can feel the tension outside. We’ve never had so many homeless and mentally ill, substance use, a lot is going on…We have structural racism.


We’ve got social and racial inequities…but as a clinical psychiatric social worker by trade, I always think that there is hope because collaboratively as a community, we are beginning to come together to try to address these things.”