Fatal shooting at Patterson Houses prompts anti-gun protest

Councilwoman Diana Ayala addresses an anti-gun violence rally at Patterson Houses on June 8. Photo: Deborah Cruz

Protesters rallied in front of the Patterson Houses on East 143rd last Friday to call for an end to gun violence. The rally was in response to the May 26th shooting death of a 22-year-old man inside Patterson Housing.

On the day of the shooting, NYPD responded to a 911 call at 300 East 143rd Street, and found the body of Cheyenne Carter, who had been shot in the head and torso. The victim was rushed to Lincoln Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The NYPD have not made any arrests and have no suspects, saying only that the investigation is ongoing.

Although the victim was not a resident of the complex, the shooting highlights the need to rein in the violence, said Clarissa Ayaleto, one of the organizers of the rally. Ayaleto grew up at Patterson and still has family members who live there.

“No matter where this person is from, gun violence is gun violence. Bullets will get anyone,” said Ayaleto. “This is a constant struggle in all urban communities and the loss of someone to gun violence is something no family should have to go through,” she said, adding that residents and business owners are also at risk. She recounted her own first experience with gun violence as a seven-year-old, and again as an adult when she saw a friend killed from a gunshot to the head.

So far this year, the NYPD has reported 83 shootings involving 93 victims have been reported in the Bronx. In the confines of the 40th Precinct, 18 shootings have been reported. Last year only 12 shootings were reported.

Advocates say that stopping gun violence requires a special focus on keeping young people engaged in their communities.

Representatives from Save Our Streets, a grassroots group that organizes young people to counteract violence, joined Mayor’s Action Plan (MAP), Lead by Example & Reverse the Trend, Institute for Mediation and Conflict Resolution or IMCR, Guns Down Lives Up, and the Bronx Community Coordinator from the Mayor’s Office to spearhead the rally. Many of these organizations offer after school programs, job placement for youth, and community service.

Antonio Hendrickson of Lead By Example told the crowd that, “we need to take these young brothers that have these guns and tell them that they have to learn how to manage conflict without picking up a weapon.” He emphasized the importance of working with young adults to teach them how to talk through problems rather than resorting to fighting or gang clashes.

“When it is a national event, when it becomes a school shooting somewhere in Florida, those things shouldn’t happen at all. That is when there is exposure” said Ayaleto. “But we experience this very often and no one comes to talk to our kids about how we are feeling, so we have to do these things.”

Chris Lane, 11, a youth advocate, came to the rally with his mother,

“This black on black crime needs to stop, and it stops with us,” Lane told the crowd. Advocating against gun violence has made him an enemy to many in his community, he said, adding that he has received death threats. “We are not from here but this is not something that happens in one section, it happens everywhere,” he said.

Councilwoman Diana Ayala came to lend support, noting the significance of the date.

“June is Gun Violence awareness month, so we are holding many programs for the youth. We invite all of you to be a participant in that,” she said, to close the rally.