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Politics and Government

NYC public advocate joins Syracuse mayoral candidate to address gun violence

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media
Khalid Bey and Jumaane Williams.

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams visited Syracuse last week, joining Democratic mayoral candidate Khalid Bey, to address recent gun violence across the state and its root causes. Bey offered some suggestions for what can be done in the city, if he’s elected mayor.

With gun violence surging across the state over the Fourth of July weekend, Williams said officials need to reimagine what public safety looks like, saying a great relationship is needed with law enforcement, albeit one that is transparent and accountable.

“But the part that sometimes gets left out is the part that housing plays, the part that health care plays, the part that mental health plays, the part that poverty plays, the part that having a job plays,” Williams said. "Data has shown among young people that an eight-week summer job cuts violent crime arrests in half for up to six months after that job. So we know what works; it’s about investment.”

Bey said gun violence is an unfortunate right-of-passage for some young people, and officials need to find better ways to empower youth, deter idle time and strengthen families. He wants to find money to keep school buildings open to 10 p.m.

“Not only so that young people can have access and something to do, but even people around the community, they want to do neighborhood watch meetings, to create that camaraderie, establish that kind of camaraderie with their neighbors,” Bey said. “I think that goes a long way in strengthening communities and strengthening neighborhoods.”  

Bey and Williams say it’s not just throwing money at a problem. It’s got to go to the right programs and Williams said structural changes are needed. Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared gun violence a public emergency, and took several actions to address the issue.