Mayor Eric Adams has set up a new gun violence prevention task force, selecting a community organizer and long-time community-based violence interrupter as a co-chair.
While disclosing this on Thursday June 2, 2022, Adams stated that the move is aimed at preventing shootings before they happen in the first place, by attacking crime at the root.
“We can’t continue to believe that because you made an arrest, you solved the problem,” Adams said.
He added, “The problem is: Why are children having, or feel they have the need, to have guns in the first place?”
Adams rallied alongside a coalition of anti-violence groups Thursday on the City Hall steps. The community groups are part of the “cure violence” movement, which relies on intervention strategies to engage youth before they are drawn to violence.
To underline the city’s partnership with community groups, Adams named A.T. Mitchell, founder of the Brooklyn anti-violence group Man Up!, as his new gun violence czar.
Mitchell will co-chair the city’s new gun violence prevention task force, which will also include all six deputy mayors, the police commissioner and the schools chancellor.
The task force will coordinate closely across city agencies and with community groups.
“We are the people who are closest to the problem,” Mitchell said. “So quite naturally, we have the answers to those problems.”
But Adams immediately faced questions about Mitchell, whose city-subsidized group was cited by the Department of Investigation in 2019 for financial mismanagement.
The mayor vigorously defended Mitchell, noting their decades of work together. And he said Mitchell had followed DOI’s recommendations.
“I’ve vetted A.T. for 30 years,” Adams said, calling Mitchell “a person who I have witnessed on the ground at shootings, on the ground talking to people who are in gangs, getting them out of gangs.”
He said, “We’re not looking for a nun. We’re looking for someone that’s not afraid to be in the street.”
Adams’ appearance at the rally came after some speakers knocked his crime-fighting tactics.
“We’re about to go to the fourth or fifth surge of police in the subways. And we still have violence,” said Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.
“The answer cannot be that we arrest more and more Black and brown children.”
But the mayor was nonetheless warmly embraced by anti-violence activists at the rally. And he returned the favor.
“You are now part of the apparatus of making our city safe,” he told attendees. “Intervention and prevention. There’s a new day in the city of the new New York.”