By Daleel Jabir Muhammad
NEW YORK—The inaugural annual observance of The National Day of Remembrance for Gun-Related Homicide Victims was officially recognized by city government officials, clergy, community activists, violence interrupter groups, and families of the many victims whose relatives fell victim to gun violence in 2022.
A.T. Mitchell, founder of Man-Up Inc. and the New York City Gun Violence Prevention Czar, initiated this day to call attention to the senseless violence that is permeating not just New York City but cities around the country. The observance took place on December 30 in Brooklyn, New York, near the Barclay’s Center.
Some of the other cities participating in the day of remembrance were Mt. Vernon, New York; Chicago; Newark; Philadelphia; Baltimore; Atlanta; Washington, D.C.; Jacksonville, Fla., Durham and Charlotte N.C., and Jackson, Mississippi.
“As we close out the year, we need to have a conversation about gun violence and the many lives of fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, friends, and loved ones. We need to remember them publicly, by name as we close out this year and begin a new one with a collective citywide New Year’s Resolution to further intensify the work to reduce and prevent the disease of gun violence in 2023,” Mr. Mitchell stated in a press release.
“We have become so desensitized to the death, sadness, grief, and pain,” stated Audrey Jackson, mother of Bashar “Pop Smoke” Jackson. “We have to push beyond this, prevention is up to us. Intervention is up to the government but prevention is up to us; we must own it. Prevention is our responsibility and it’s our responsibility to not be afraid of our children,” Ms. Jackson, CEO of Shoot For The Stars Foundation. She instructed the audience to show concern for Black youth in the neighborhoods and start with a simple greeting of saying “hello” because you never know when you may need someone. Her son Bashar Jackson, better known as famed Brooklyn-born rapper Pop Smoke, was murdered in Los Angeles in a home invasion in 2020.
Mysonne Da General, rap artist, activist, and co-founder of Until Freedom, spoke of the need to boycott Black murders and led chants of, “I can’t kill my brothers because I love my brothers.” Hip-hop artist Arnstar implored those who were in attendance to not support “murder music.”
New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams spoke on the need to work collectively with the police department, the many community taskforces, and city government agencies to stop the epidemic of gun violence in the Black community, where the number one cause of death is gun violence. A call for funding to address the needs of mental health issues, food, jobs, heat, hot water, affordable housing, and quality education as ways to prevent gun violence, deaths, and prison sentences was laid out by the public advocate. “We have to get the guns off the street and we have to help people understand that it’s morally unacceptable to take a life,” said Mr. Williams. He called for a need for real support likened to other communities. “Safety looks different to them and all that we are asking for is the same,” he demanded.
Out of the many cure violence interrupter organizations present at the day of remembrance like Fathers Alive In The Hood (FAITH), Life Camp, Man-Up, Brownsville Think Tank Matters (BTTM) and so many other partnered organizations from various cities, A.T. Mitchell recognized the works of the Nation of Islam. “Give it up to the Nation of Islam, who are here with us, they have always been on the frontline, actually leading the way. We’ve been following their footsteps for so many years,” Mr. Mitchell stated.
Student Minister Abdul Haqq Muhammad from Mosque No. 25 in Newark representing the Nation of Islam invoked parts of the pledge of the historic 1995 Million Man March, led by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, in which nearly two million Black men took the pledge to stop the violence in our communities, to improve themselves spiritually, mentally, morally, physically, and socially for the benefit of ourselves and their families. In a prayer for comfort, Minister Abdul Haqq Muhammad said. “Brothers and sisters, we ask that on this day of remembrance that God will look over us and that he will lift the burden of sorrow, grief, and anxiety from our souls and our spirits for the ones that we have lost and loved.”
A candlelight vigil commenced after the prayer and white doves were released to symbolize the solemn day. The reading of several hundred victims who lost their lives in 2022 was read by various faith-based organizations, law enforcement representatives, elected officials, and families.
Student Assistant Minister, Johnathan Muhammad, from Muhammad Mosque No. 7C in Brooklyn, read some of the names of the many victims lost from gun violence in 2022.