In the span of barely twenty-four hours last week, Plainfield lost Hakeem T. Young and Willie Lee Major to gun violence on both the East and West Ends of the city. Earlier in May, Shavaun Green was killed around South Second Street, and in early April yet another young man, Joshua Hartsfield, was murdered in an apparent drive by shooting on Carnegie Avenue.
There have been multiple other shootings over these past few months in likely the greatest surge of violence since former Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs brokered a truce between rival gangs five years ago.
“And it’s not even summer yet,” says Salaam Ismiall, who heads the National United Youth Council and serves and Co-chair for the New Jersey Commission on Violence. “Kids haven’t even gotten out of school.”
Ismiall, of Elizabeth, leads a coalition of concerned residents who held a press conference Tuesday in front of the Joann Hollis Gardens at the corner of Plainfield Avenue and West Fourth Street, only a block from one of last week’s shootings. They announced a series of rallies against violence to be held on Thursday, June 2nd, starting at 6pm.
The first rally will take place in front of, and then inside, the Joann Hollis Gardens.
“We will walk the corridors of the apartments, with my bullhorn, and interact with the young folks,” Ismiall told Plainfield View. “We will let youth know that there is someone who cares. They don’t have to show their frustration in the street.”
Thursday evening’s second rally location is yet to be determined, but the third will be followed by a prayer vigil at the location of Plainfield’s latest fatal shooting, the corner of North and Garfield Avenues, near Seidler Field.
Participants with cars will drive from one location to another, and those who need a ride will have no problem finding one.
“We have to interact with the young folks,” says Ismaill, who stresses our collective responsibility. “Nobody is not involved in this crisis.”