Federal grant aimed to stem Brownsville violence

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The densely populated Brownsville section of Brooklyn is on tap for a financial boost to help cut gun violence and build up the crime-plagued community.

A nearly $600,000 federal grant has been set aside as part of a nationwide program run by the Department of Justice.

"When it comes to violent crime, we know we cannot prosecute our way out of this problem," said Loretta Lynch, United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York during a news conference in Brownsville. "To do that and no more ignores the fundamental causes and ultimate effects of violence on this community and our entire city."

Brownsville was chosen because of its high crime rate, struggling social programs and a wealth of willing volunteers, said Denise O'Donnell, director of Department of Justice's bureau of justice assistance.

The grant will be administered by the Brownsville Community Justice Center, a nonprofit group, said project director James Brodick.

Community groups, church representatives, business owners and law enforcement officials will meet over the next six months to decide where the money will be spent, Brodick said. Eligible programs include volunteer groups and civilian-police partnerships, officials said.

"The more shoulders we have, the lighter the load," said Mark Tanis, a Brownsville business owner and resident. "We all should carry this burden. We have all been subjected to all too familiar sounds of shots and sirens."

The eastern Brooklyn community has had 61 shooting incidents over the past year, resulting in 82 people either being killed or injured, said Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes.

Many of those who are the victims or perpetrators of crimes in Brownsville are young men prone to sometimes deadly neighborhood feuds, said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

"When you really bore down into these incidents, they're really quite senseless," Kelly said.

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