BRIDGING THE DIVIDE

June 05, 2019 at 4:30 am

Community leaders from different faiths are joining forces to end gun violence in the tri-state.

Aired on June 4, 2019.

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>>> GOOD EVENING.
WELCOME TO "METROFOCUS."
IN THE WAKE OF NEW ZEALAND'S
TRAGIC SHOOTING AT CHRISTCHURCH
MOSQUE, FAITH LEADERS ACROSS THE
GLOBE ARE SPEAKING OUT EVEN MORE
AGAINST GUN VIOLENCE PLAGUING
THEIR COMMUNITIES.
IN AN EFFORT TO SAVE LIVES, MANY
DENOMINATIONS ARE COMING
TOGETHER TO NOT ONLY FIND NEW
SOLUTIONS BUT TO GET TO THE ROOT
OF HATEFUL AMONG THOSE LEADERS,
EVAN BERNSTEIN, THE REGIONAL
DIRECTOR OF THE ANTI-DEFAMATION
LEAGUE AND THE PRESIDENT OF THE
67th PRECINCT CLERGY COUNCIL,
BETTER KNOWN AS THE GOD SQUAD,
ARE WORKING TO MAKE BROOKLYN
SAFER.
THEY TEAMED UP TO SPEAK AT THE
CLERGY PREVENTION GUN SUMMIT.
FIRST TELL US ABOUT THIS SUMMIT
AND WHAT WAS THAT IT TOOK PLACE?
>> SO THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.
SO THE SUMMIT WAS REALLY LOOKING
AT BEST PRACTICES FOR FAITH
LEADERS TO REDUCE GUN VIOLENCE.
NORMALLY WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT
FAITH LEADERS AND GUN VIOLENCE,
THERE WAS NOT A DIRECT COALITION
BETWEEN WHAT EXACTLY THEY CAN DO
TO REDUCE GUN VIOLENCE AND OVER
THE PAST TEN YEARS, MYSELF AND
THE GOD SQUAD IN EAST FLAT BUSH
HAVE BEEN WORKING ON SPECIFIC
WAYS ON HOW TO REDUCE THE
VIOLENCE.
WE TOOK TEN YEARS OF EXPERIENCE,
PUT IT INTO A FEW HOURS, AND
DISPATCH IT, AND RELEASE TO IT
FAITH LEADERS FROM AROUND THE
CITY.
>> WHAT DOES TEN YEARS OF
EXPERIENCE LOOK LIKE WHEN IT IS
CONDENSED?
>> 25 FUNERALS.
MULTIPLE SHOOTING RESPONSES ON
THE STREET.
A LOT OF VISITS IN HOSPITALS,
COMFORTING FAMILIES, WORKING ON
THE STREET WITH AREAS WITH WHICH
WE CALL HOT SPOTS WHERE WE KNOW
FOR SURE THAT THE GANG MEMBERS,
IT CALLS FOR CUTTING HAIR FOR
CHILDREN GOING BACK TO SCHOOL,
BEING ROLE MODELS, FOR THE FAITH
LEADERS TO TAKE AN ACTIVE
APPROACH, WE MUST DO THE WORK ON
THE STREET LEVEL.
>> OKAY.
SO EVAN, WE'VE HAD YOU ON THE
SHOW SEVERAL TIMES TO TALK ABOUT
TRAGEDY THAT'S HAVE HAPPENED AND
USUALLY OUR CONVERSATIONS TEND
TO BE MORE MACRO ABOUT WHAT THE
LARGER ISSUE OF WHAT'S GOING.
ON I'M HEARING THE REVEREND
DESCRIBE IS MUCH MORE MICRO ON
THE STREET.
>> IT COMES DOWN TO PERSONAL
RELATIONSHIPS.
I GOT TO KNOW HIM A FEW YEARS
AGO AROUND HIS WORK.
WORKING WITH FAITH BASED
INSTITUTIONS AND WE HAVE A GREAT
RELATIONSHIP WITH THE NYPD AND
THE FBI AND THEY'RE ABLE TO
PARTNER ON THAT.
FROM THAT, IT BECAME A
FRIENDSHIP.
A REAL CONVERSATION ABOUT THE
WORKS THAT WE DO.
AND THROUGH THOSE CONVERSATIONS,
LEARNING ABOUT WHAT THE GOD
SQUAD IS DOING AND HOW IMPORTANT
IT IS.
IT IS A CIVIL RIGHTS
ORGANIZATION.
GUN RIGHTS IS SOMETHING WE'VE
TAKEN A STAND ON AND HE BELIEVE
THERE NEEDS TO BE MORE WORK DONE
THERE.
THIS TO ME WAS A NATURAL
MARRIAGE FOR US TO HELP.
WE'RE A MACRO ORGANIZATION TO A
CERTAIN SENTENCE.
TO BE ABLE TO HELP WITH THE
MISSION WAS A WAY FOR US TO
UNDERSTAND WHAT WAS GOING ON IN
THE COMMUNITY.
I HAD TOTALLY DIFFERENT KINDS OF
THOUGHTS AND WHAT WE COULD DO.
LIKE ANTI-BIAS WORK.
WHEN I LEARNED ABOUT GUN
VIOLENCE, IT WAS AN OPPORTUNITY
TO STAND TOGETHER.
WE WENT TO ISRAEL TOGETHER.
MORE AND MORE SOLIDIFIED US
WANTING TO THEN GOD SQUAD AND DO
THE WORK WITH PREVENTING GUN
VIOLENCE IN NEW YORK.
>> WHEN IT COMES TO THE WORK
THAT YOU'RE DOING, WE MENTIONED
AT THE BEGINNING OF THE PIECE,
GETTING TO THE ROOT OF HATE.
AND IT SOUNDS MORE LIKE WHAT
YOU'RE GETTING TO THE ROOT OF IS
MORE OF INEQUITY AND INEQUALITY.
SOME OF THE SOCIAL ISSUES THAT
CAN PLAGUE SOME OF THE POORER
COMMUNITIES THAT ARE SUFFERING
SOME OF THE GUN VIOLENCE ISSUES.
>> THAT'S RIGHT.
WHEN YOU LOOK AT CROWN HEIGHTS,
THE ANTI-SEMITISM.
EVEN THOUGH I DON'T EQUATE IT
WITH NONVIOLENCE, I THINK
THERE'S A LINK BETWEEN THE
RESOURCES.
I THINK THAT OVER AND OVER
AGAIN, WHAT WE NEED TO REMEMBER
IS THAT HATE IS A HUMAN
CONDITION ACROSS THE BOARD AND
IN BETWEEN.
THE WORK WE DO IS TRY TO MAKE
SURE THAT WE TRY TO MEET
SPECIFICALLY THOSE INDIVIDUALS
WHERE THEY ARE IN THE COMMUNITY.
AND FIGURE OUT WAYS TO HELP THEM
OUT AND TO GIVE THEM A HAND WITH
THE SITUATION.
WE DON'T TELL GANG MEMBERS TO
LEAD GANGS.
WHAT WE TRY TO DO IS GIVE THEM
RESOURCES TO MAKE THEIR OWN
DECISIONS IN TERMS OF HOW THEY
WANT TO LIVE THEIR LIFE.
BUT THE IMPORTANCE IS THAT WE
MUST BE AT THE PLACE WHERE THEY
ARE TO GIVE THEM THE
OPPORTUNITIES IN WHICH THEY
NEED.
>> NOT TO PIVOT TOO FAR AWAY
FROM BROOKLYN BUT I DO NEED TO
ASK BUT YOUR REASON TRIP TO
POLAND.
SPEAKING OF OPENING LINES OF
COMMUNICATION AND HAVING THOSE
CONVERSATIONS.
FIRST OF ALL, TELL US WHY YOU
WERE ALL THE WAY INFLUENCED.
>> SO WE WENT TO ISRAEL TOGETHER
I REALIZED THAT THIS WASN'T A
TREMENDOUS KNOWLEDGE OF THE
HISTORY OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE AND
A LOT OF KNOWLEDGE THEY HAD OF
THE HOLOCAUST WAS REALLY DEFINED
BETWEEN 1939 AND 1945.
AND IT WAS ONE BRIEF EXPERIENCE.
AN AMAZING MUSEUM BUT TILL A
MUSEUM.
AND AS THINGS RAMPED UP OVER THE
LAST SIX, EIGHT MONTHS, WE SAW
MORE AND MORE ASSAULTS TAKING
PLACE.
I WAS TRYING TO THINK OF A WAY
THAT AN ORGANIZATION, HOW CAN WE
GET PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND AND
TALKING AND HAVING
CONVERSATIONS.
THE FIRST THING THAT CAME TO MY
MIND.
PEOPLE NEED TO GO TO POLAND, TO
AUSCHWITZ, THEY NEED TO SEE
WHERE THE WARSAW GHETTO WAS.
IF SOMEONE COULD EXPERIENCE
THAT, MAY BE IT WOULD HELP THEM
BE ABLE TO COMMUNICATE KIND OF
THE JEWISH STORY IN A DIFFERENT
WAY AND HAVE A GOOD PERSPECTIVE.
THE FIRST THING I THOUGHT OF WAS
MY FRIEND WHO COULD GIVE AN
OPINION AND WHETHER OR NOT THIS
WOULD BE WORTH CONTINUING AND
WILL IT HAVE IMPACT.
AND I THINK ON EVERYTHING THAT
WE'VE DISCUSSED DURING AND POST
TRIP.
IT IS SOMETHING AS A LOT OF
MERIT TO HELP CONTINUE THE
CONVERSATION.
>> AND PASTOR MONROE, WHAT WAS
YOUR TAKE ON THAT TRIP?
>> SO ONE OF THE THINGS WAS THAT
A LOT OF TIMES, THEY CALL TO
HELP AND STAND ON THE ISSUES.
AND I SAID TO HIM, YOU HAVE TO
STAND ON THE ISSUES AS WELL.
YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND WHERE YOU
COME FROM AND UNDERSTAND ALL THE
PAIN AND ALL THE SUFFERING.
YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THE
COMMUNITY AND THE NEIGHBORHOODS.
YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND WHAT WE
DID EVERY SINGLE DAY SO I NEED
TO UNDERSTAND WHERE YOU'RE
COMING FROM.
YOUR PAIN AND YOUR SUFFERING AND
HISTORY.
I THINK WE'RE BONDED BY OUR
PAST, WE'RE CONNECTED WITH OUR
PRESENT AND CONNECTED WITH OUR
FUTURE.
SO FOR ME, GOING TO POLAND, I
THINK THAT A LOT OF THE PLACES
THAT WE HAVE BEEN TO, THE
HISTORY THAT WE SAW, WE FELT, IT
HELPS ME POSITION MYSELF TO
SPEAK CLEARLY AND UNDERSTANDING
IN A DEEPER SENSE WHAT THE
JEWISH COMMUNITY IS GOING
THROUGH SO WHEN I SPEAK, I CAN
SPEAK FROM A STANDPOINT OF
KNOWLEDGE, EMPATHY, BUT ALSO
FROM EXPERIENCE AS WELL.
>> I THINK IT IS BEAUTIFUL THAT
YOU HAVE CREATE THIS LINE OF
COMMUNICATION EVEN THOUGH WE ARE
THIS INCREDIBLY MULTICULTURAL
CITY, WE CAN MANAGE TO LIVE IN
OUR SEPARATE BUBBLES.
SO THE MORE COMMUNICATION AND
UNDERSTANDING WE CAN HAVE OF
EACH OTHER'S EXPERIENCES AND
LIVES, I WOULD HOPE THAT WOULD
DEFINITELY BE ABLE TO CHANGE
SOME OF THE VIT OUTXOMS WE'VE
SEEN.
THANK YOU BOTH FOR JOINING US ON
THE PROGRAM.
>> THANK YOU.
ABSOLUTELY.
>> WE'LL HAVE YOU BACK AGAIN.
>> THANK YOU SO MUCH.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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