Day of healing held in Queens in response to gun violence

LONG ISLAND CITY, Queens (WABC) — Community organizers in Queens in conjunction with New York City held a “Day of Healing” on Saturday at the Queensbridge Houses in Long Island City in response to a spike in violence there.

“This amplifies a message of hope,” said Bishop Mitchell Taylor, of Center of Hope International.

It was the 7th “Community Healing Day” held across the city this summer in an effort to help neighborhoods that have experienced a higher level of crime this summer. The events are being sponsored by New York City’s Office of Criminal Justice.

“Right now, it’s just good to be out in the community, having everyone engaged,” said Jasmine Paez, with the Jacob Riis Settlement.

At least a dozen groups set up tables at the event with information for residents on social services and other resources. Free food, music and entertainment were offered.

Outreach members from the New York Knicks were there to provide free basketball clinics to local kids.

“It’s summertime,” said basketball coach Bill Singleton. “And the young people of New York City, they need to be engaged and involved in positive activity.”

The Community Healing Day was offered in conjunction with the annual community event at the Queensbridge Houses known as “Slice Day.” The event commemorates the life of long-time Queensbridge resident 23-year-old Keenan “Slice” Feaster who fell victim to gun violence.

K. Bain, with “Slice Day” event organizer Community Capacity Development, said before the coronavirus pandemic, shootings had almost been completely eliminated in the Queensbridge Houses, but are now happening again.

In fact, an event organizer told Eyewitness News that rival factions who live in the Houses agreed not to engage in any violence during the event on Saturday afternoon.

Bain said community leaders have to go back to square one.

“We do know how to stop violence,” he said.

Bain said credible leaders within the community have to get the appropriate resources to the right people.

On a microphone, Bain told people attending the event, “If we are going to be safe, if we are going to have justice and prosperity in our communities, then we have to do it ourselves,” he said.

The next Community Healing Day will take place July 30 at the Van Dyke Houses in Brownsville followed by the Tompkins Houses in Bed-Stuy August 7 and the Stapleton Houses in Stapleton on August 19.

Next weekend, in Long Island City, a group of residents from the community are holding a wellness day for people in the neighborhood. The event will feature facial massages, sound healing, and yoga. “A Sense of Wellness” will take place Sunday, July 25 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Queensbridge Park on Vernon Boulevard.

RELATED | Local leaders pushing for gun violence to stop

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