Buffalo Peacemakers working to prevent violence

Marche Black & Nick Lombardo

(Buffalo, N.Y.) – A recent rash of violence in Buffalo, has community leaders looking for answers. Buffalo Police recently responded to six shootings in an 11 day period, which resulted in the deaths of two people.

Additionally, there was a stabbing on the SUNY Buffalo State campus April 16, which is believed to be connected to a fight that took place at an off-campus party.

“About 80 percent of the shootings that took place had to directly do with one person robbing another person,” said Pastor James Giles, coordinator and spokesman for the Buffalo Peacemakers.

The group tries to prevent violence through intervention by directing youth into more positive outcomes.

Giles appeared on the Buffalo Review April 24 to discuss the recent acts of violence. He and other leaders have called for peace and have asked for the community’s help.

Giles said most of the recent shootings are not gang related, but they do result from a gang mentality.

“You take something from me, I’m going to take your life,” he said, of the mindset that leads to violence.

“It’s getting worse because economics plays a very important part, as you get more people jobs they won’t be out trying to rob in order to get money,” said Giles.

“They can become desensitized to the impact of violence, so that makes it a little easier to pick up a gun and take another life as they haven’t been instilled with values of life.”

However, he believes gang activity has decreased, due to the efforts of the Buffalo Peacemakers and other community groups that work with law enforcement.

“Within our group everybody knows somebody, we know all of the youth that are working and are involved in this (violent) activity,” said Giles.

He said members of the Buffalo Peacemakers often ask gang members, in attendance at community events, to refrain from wearing their colors or avoid traveling in large numbers in order to prevent tensions with rival groups.

Additionally, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced April 18 that more than $13 million will be given to 20 law enforcement agencies in 17 counties to help prevent gun violence.

Erie, Niagara and Chautauqua counties will receive about $2.7 million from the state’s Gun Involved Violence Elimination (GIVE) program.

Erie and Niagara counties account for 83 percent of violent crime in the state outside of New York City.

Giles said that is likely because of the size of the population and economic conditions in Buffalo.

“The amount of money a state receives is based upon the statistics on which areas have the most prolific acts of gun violence,” said Giles. “Legislatures that lobby for these funds and that may have more influence in the community, then others never receive these funds to help stop gun violence.”

* Shontay Morgan contributed to this report.


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