Lamont E. Johnson, President of the Hempstead Board of Education, has announced a collaboration with Hempstead police where they will meet with local residents and their children for a toy gun exchange program, with kids turning in their toy guns for peaceful Christmas toys.
The event will be held at 2 p.m., Wednesday, December 23, in Kennedy Memorial Park at 350 Greenwich Street.
Many of the toy guns contain features similar to popular assault weapons.
“We don’t want toy guns to be mistaken by police or others for real guns, and we are doing our best to prevent a tragedy from happening because of that kind of mistake,” Johnson said in a press release.
Johnson is a former police officer in two jurisdictions - New York City and Hempstead.
“Many children in our community,” he said, “are still mourning the death of 12-year-old Dejah Joyner, who died in October after being hit in the head by a stray bullet while she was in her home in the village.”
Jean Shafiroff, a Long Island and New York City philanthropist and charitable fundraiser who is donating the toys to be exchanged at the event, said: “You can’t help but think about how you introduce your children to items that lead to violence.”
Mayor Wayne Hall is expected to attend.