STATEMENT FROM COUNCIL MEMBER WILLIAMS
“This announcement is amazing. Mayor Bill de Blasio kept his word, and on this issue, got it right.
“When I met with the Mayor while he was then Public Advocate, he shared with me his future endeavors, and gun violence was a major part of what we spoke about. For too long, the only people we sent to these communities were police officers. That was unfair to the police and was unfair to the people they supposedly came to serve. It’s been hard to change that message, but with my colleagues in government, we have really turned the ship. We have begun to change the dynamic of what public safety means, and who is responsible for it, and that is critical.
“In 2012, Council Member Cabrera and I published a report on how to approach the gun violence epidemic in the City, and almost everything that was in there has come to fruition, thanks to the support of the Mayor, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and City Council. We talked about inter-agency communication, jobs, and things that were happening in those communities. All of the things that we talked about are now coming to reality.
“The fundamental message is that we have to continue to push the idea forward that police is not the only answer. They are a part of the solution; and while these communities do ask for police, they also ask for jobs, housing, and better education. We have to respond to those tasks as well.
“I want to also congratulate Eric Cumberbatch on his appointment as director of the new office. I can’t think of anyone better than him to lead this office.
“The premise to me has always been that people who look like me are not genetically predisposed to violence, and it’s been incredibly hard to get that simple message across. Our young people need to know there is nothing wrong with them. They are not innately violent and uneducable. It’s resources that are needed, and a holistic approach to treat gun violence as the public health issue that it is.
“This Mayor embraced all that we said could work. The creation of this office is historic, and is shining a light across this country where there is a president trying to shine darkness.”