Chanting “stop killing our youth,” about 20 people marched down Nassau Road in Roosevelt to protest the violence that residents say sometimes keeps them in their homes in fear.
“No more Bloods, no more Crips, no more MS-13!” protesters shouted — referring to gangs in the hamlet — as they walked past bakeries, delis and hair salons.
Aaron Scott, the lead organizer of the mile-long march and head of the Roosevelt chapter of Freeport-based Helping End Violence Now, said the march was borne out of general frustration with violence, not a specific crime.
“When people see this, they realize other people are concerned,” said Scott, a deacon at Mt. Sinai Baptist Church in Roosevelt. “Sometimes people are afraid to pick up the phone to call the police, they’re afraid to go out at night or afraid to walk the dog. We don’t want the violence we’re seeing in our community. We’ve had enough.”
In the past several months, a 16-year-old Roosevelt boy was charged with two slayings; another resident went on trial for a killing believed to be gang-related; and the longtime leader of the Roosevelt chapter of the Crips was given three life sentences for what a prosecutor called “a crime wave that wreaked havoc on Roosevelt.”
Doris Amar, 75, said she has lived in the hamlet of about 16,000 people for more than a half-century.
“We never used to lock our doors,” said Amar, who hitched a ride in a police car for the past few blocks of the march rather than struggle under the hot sun. “Now you always lock your doors. I’m afraid because I’ve heard of robberies of people near me.”
Arthur Mackey Jr., pastor of Mt. Sinai and CEO of the I Support Roosevelt Youth Center, led a chant calling on the Town of Hempstead, Nassau County, New York State and the federal government to “get our children jobs.”
“Jobs are a lifeline for our young people,” he said. “When young people are idle and have nothing to do, the gangs prey on them.”