Sunset Park, Brooklyn – More than 100 community residents joined City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Council Member Sara Gonzalez, U.S. Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, Tracy Hobson, Executive Director of The Center for Anti-Violence Education and advocates at a community-wide, free self-defense course held today in Sunset Park.

The course empowered citizens on how to protect themselves from becoming victims of sexual assault. The classes were organized following a string of incidents that have occurred in various neighborhoods in Brooklyn since March and were taught in English, Spanish and Chinese.

“We can each play a part in protecting ourselves and taking back our streets,” said Speaker Quinn. “From Park Slope, to Sunset Park and Windsor Terrace and everywhere else in Brooklyn, today’s self-defense class empowered residents and sent the clear message that we will not tolerate sexual assaults in our neighborhoods.”

“No one should have to fear being assaulted in their neighborhood,” said U.S. Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez. “Today’s self-defense training will help keep our streets safe by giving community members the information they need to protect themselves.”

“These deeply troubling attacks must be met with vigilance and community unity,” said Council Member Sara M. González. “Leaders from throughout my District have stepped up to help spread awareness and aid our efforts to empower women who fear walking through our neighborhoods. I am grateful for their efforts and deeply appreciate the leadership of our Speaker Christine C. Quinn who kicked off our march the other day and quickly followed through with these self-defense classes.”

“Everyone has the right to walk the streets of their community without fear of attack”, said Council Member Brad Lander. “Today’s training helped people across the borough respond to the recent string of violent acts in our community. The Center for Anti-Violence Education has been providing smart, effective support for people who are affected by violence. Thank you to Speaker Quinn and Councilmember Gonzalez for helping bring this training to Brooklyn.”

“The Center for Anti-Violence Education has been providing self-defense and violence prevention programs for communities especially at risk of violence including women, youth and the LGBT community for 37 years,” said Tracy Hobson, Executive Director. “While we know that it is NEVER the fault of the person who is attacked, we also know that there are skills and strategies that we can use to keep ourselves and our loved ones as safe as possible. We’re happy to be partnering with the City Council to be providing classes on these skills throughout the community.”

“As recent incidents in Park Slope, Sunset Park and Bay Ridge have demonstrated, Brooklynites and New Yorkers need to be aware of their surroundings and have the ability to defend themselves when necessary,” said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. “I applaud the Center for Anti-Violence Education, Speaker Quinn, Council Member Gonzalez and everyone involved with organizing today’s free self-defense course, which has given residents another tool in helping to make our streets safe for everyone.”

“Safe Slope is a grassroots organization that formed in response to recent sexual assaults in South Brooklyn to create realistic solutions to empower community members,” said Jessica Silk, Member and Co-founder of Safe Slope. “We commend Speaker Quinn for collaborating with CAE to offer free self-defense training. This collaboration demonstrates that violence in any community affects all New Yorkers, and we must work together to provide comprehensive solutions to minimize risk and, ultimately, prevent violence.”

The NYPD has released several sketches of the suspected assailants. Individuals with helpful information are urged to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477).