A Nassau County legislator and a law enforcement group have called for a day of peace in violence-plagued communities across Long Island Monday, the national holiday honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
"I'll take peace not day-by-day, I'll take it minute-by-minute," Nassau legislative Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport), said Sunday at a news conference at the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Park in Uniondale with members of the Long Island chapter of the Law Enforcement Alliance. "This call for peace demonstrates that the older folks in our community truly are compassionate about caring for our young people."
Alliance president Darrin Green also called for peace "for the days and weeks ahead."
Corey Pegues, alliance co-founder, appealed to parents to "talk to their kids tonight."
Pegues, a retired NYPD inspector, said, "We want the gang members . . . please put down your guns."
The Law Enforcement Alliance is a Hempstead-based organization affiliated with other Long Island and New York-based black law enforcement groups.
The group held poster boards bearing the names of more than 300 young people killed, mostly by gun violence, in Uniondale, Freeport, Hempstead and other Long Island communities since 2000.
Valerie McFadden, a community activist and teaching assistant at Uniondale High School, began creating some of the boards in 2000 to call attention to a surge in violent deaths of teenagers and young adults.
The poster boards serve as a teaching tool for workshops McFadden runs, and as a reminder. The names, ages and details of the deaths are handwritten in black marker on blue notes for men, and on white notes for women.
The boards are also part of a display she has built including articles on the deaths, a baby coffin donated by funeral home and a memorial binder.
"We need to really rebuild Long Island's mentality . . . ," she said. "A gun does not shoot itself. It needs a human being for it to work. A knife does not wield itself."