Governor Cuomo Holds Press Conference with Elected Officials, Clergy and Community Leaders Following First Gun Violence Prevention Community Meeting


Governor Cuomo: “They know who is getting into trouble and they need the ability to, at that time reached that person and stop the cycle before it even starts. Well, how do you do that? That’s hard. That’s hard. When we can just sign a bill, that’s easy. When we can just say one initiative, that’s easy. That’s not going to work here. It’s not going to work. It is empowering the groups that have been doing this for years with no recognition and with no resources, and institutionalizing them so they have more capacity to do what they do because what they do works. We just need more of it. And we have to acknowledge it and we have to give them the tools and the resources to do their job.”

On Wednesday July 14th, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo held a press conference with elected officials, clergy and community leaders after holding the first gun violence prevention community meeting in Brooklyn.

VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.

AUDIO of the event is available here.

A rush transcript of the Governor’s remarks are available below:

Reverend Cohall: So good afternoon everyone. I’m Reverend Cohall, the pastor of the Lenox Road Baptist church, and I want to welcome all of you here this evening, or this afternoon. You know, as a faith leader, the scriptures mean a lot to us. And first Peter three verse nine tells us do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless for this is what we were all called to do.

And indeed, to this, this place, this time, this group, we were called. Gun violence in our country and in our city and in our state is at a crisis level. And we are called not to repay evil with evil, but to bring joy and to bring hope and to bring resources and to solve this problem from the ground up.

That’s the strategy Governor Cuomo outlined last week. And that’s the strategy that he in partnership with our legislative leaders and the next mayor of our city are here implementing this afternoon. So it is my honor as pastor to host this gathering and let me just put a plug out. This is my 25th year a pastor in this year. So it is a joy to host you and to start this conversation. And it is my calling to be of assistance today and going forward as we can together to solve this crisis. Please welcome the Governor of New York State Andrew Cuomo.

Governor Cuomo Holds Press Conference with Elected Officials, Clergy and Community Leaders

Governor Cuomo: Thank you very much. And let me thank you, Reverend, first of all, for his hospitality, we just had a great, very productive meeting and let’s give the Reverend a big round of applause. I don’t know how Reverend Cohall could have done 25 years when he’s only 29 years old, but I want to thank him very much.

We have Senator Zellnor Myrie, Assembly Member Diana Richardson and Assembly Member Latrice Walker who have done a fantastic job in organizing today. And you’ll hear from them in a moment, let’s give them a round of applause.

Pastor Gil Monrose, who runs what’s called the God Squad, which I’m sure you’ve heard of, which is a network of faith based organizations that talk about doing the Lord’s work and taking the words of the scripture and putting it into action. He embodies that and he is literally saved thousands of lives with his partners. Let’s give him a round of applause.

We spoke about gun violence earlier with Eric Adams and we spoke about a different response for the city. And we spoke about how complex the issue is. It deals with reforming the relationship between the police and the community, where the community trusts the police respects the police and vice versa, the police respects the community. That’s a part of it that has to be worked on. It’s education and educational equity and making sure the schools in the poorer communities in New York City get the same services, the same level of education as the richer districts. So there’s no doubt there’s multiple prongs.

But one of the most important strategies is to get young people before the fact. Get young people before the fact, before they enter the pipeline of the system. Because once they’re in the system, that pipeline only leads to one place. And we’ve seen it for too long, for too many years, with too many lost generations.

Once that first arrest, that first record happens then you are on the slippery slope. How do you do that? There is no bill that I can sign that would do that. There is no bill that the president can sign that can do that. The only way you can do that is community by community where you develop the network and the infrastructure in that community to provide the support services.

They know who’s likely to get into trouble. They know who is getting into trouble and they need the ability to, at that time reached that person and stop the cycle before it even starts. Well, how do you do that? That’s hard. That’s hard. When we can just sign a bill, that’s easy. When we can just say one initiative, that’s easy. That’s not going to work here. It’s not going to work. It is empowering the groups that have been doing this for years with no recognition and with no resources, and institutionalizing them so they have more capacity to do what they do because what they do works. We just need more of it. And we have to acknowledge it and we have to give them the tools and the resources to do their job.

This is the first community in the state that we are reaching out to. I can tell you, the expertise is here. The intelligence is here. The willingness is here. And now with this initiative, the resources will be here. I’m excited about the possibility. I believe the product of today will be that we save young lives. And that benefits all New Yorkers. And that’s what we have to remember. I want to thank them all very much for being here, and let me turn it over now to Senator Zellnor Myrie. Senator Myrie.

Senator Zellnor Myrie: Good afternoon, everyone. It is no coincidence that we are in a house of worship. I want to welcome everyone to Lenox Road Baptist Church. We would not be here if it were not for Reverend Cohall opening up his doors, so we want to publicly thank you for that and for what the church does in this community.

This issue is not about politics. This isn’t about photo ops. This isn’t about a press release. This isn’t even about all the cameras that are here. This is about the people of our community. The grieving mothers, the families that can’t sleep at night, our children that have been lost to bullets day after day, after day, after day. The scriptures tell us that we should be prepared in season and out of season. And too long, it has been a season of violence in Brooklyn. But as the day turns to the night, so too will this season of violence become a season of peace. But it requires all hands on deck.

So I’m grateful to have the Governor’s resources and his power behind stopping violence. I’m grateful for all of the people standing on this stage with us. We are dedicated to ending gun violence in our generation. We can do it. I believe we can. I know we can. And together, we will. So I thank all of you and I look forward to us making this a reality. Thank you.

Assembly Member Diana Richardson: Good morning, everyone. Well, I want to be in the morning. I’m Assemblywoman Diana Richardson. I represent the mighty 43rd Assembly District, which is Crown Heights, Prospect Lefferts-Gardens and East Flatbush here in Central Brooklyn. Anyone will tell you that I stand 10 toes down every day, very unapologetic and unafraid, and that when I’m speaking, I only speak what is the truth. We are very, very, very happy here this morning to be standing in solidarity with our cure violence groups, as well as our clergy leaders from across this county in partnership with Governor Cuomo and other community leaders.

For far too long, we have been in pain. For far too long, our community has been just hemorrhaging calling out for help. And we are grateful that there’s finally, now, a disaster declared and that the Governor is here, boots to the ground, with real substantive solutions, employment, jobs, as well as other resources to really not just make a big headline, but bring action to the ground, to the people who are literally dying for all of our assistance and attention.

I want to highlight all of the violence interrupters that are standing behind me, as well as the hospital responders that are standing behind me, as well as the clergy who are standing behind me, that are the first responders to gun violence every single day. And I want to say thank you to all of you. I want to say thank you to all of you very publicly, because while others run, when the shots are fired, they run too.

While we are reading our newspapers or looking at the TV, disgruntled or mumbling, they are the ones that are consoling the families. They are the ones that are trying to restore unity back into community that is traumatized. So look, today’s all about solutions. I’m grateful.

I don’t know if I’m rambling or not, but I hope that you understand that this has to be a very substantive initiative and I encourage everyone to track it. I encourage everyone to track it. We are going to make real change. Central Brooklyn is going to be the model that will lead the rest of the world to show them how community, how clergy and how our elected officials can come together to be solution-oriented around the challenges that we have. So we say, thank you to you, Governor Cuomo, we extend a strong partnership to you. Let’s get this done.

Assemblywoman Latrice Walker: So again, good afternoon, everyone. The governor spoke to us today about hotspots within Central Brooklyn. Many of those communities, we either live in ourselves or we have one foot in one district and one ZIP code and one foot in the other. And we saw the mastery by which he addressed a public health crisis when we were undergoing and under siege by COVID-19.

And so, we have been living with a public health crisis for many, many years. For many, many decades. And I want to take the opportunity to applaud our Governor for recognizing or supporting some of the things that we’ve known all along. That gun violence is a public health crisis and that the only way to maintain it and to be able to put a stop to is by acknowledging the crisis management systems that have been put in place by which to address it. And they’re not called crisis management systems for no reason, because this is a system. Some that happens that requires prevention. Sometimes we may need to handle any emergency situation. And then also some of the after-effects after this deadly virus, which we know of as gun violence, has taken ahold of our communities and our families.

For far too long, we have said to people telling people, ‘no,’ but we have never given them anything to say ‘yes’ to. And so today, we’ve learned and are working with the governor on some ‘yes’ opportunities that the vaccine that we need in order to address the pandemic of gun violence in our community, are employment opportunities, housing opportunities, and educational opportunities and services for our families.

And so, this is a proud moment. I am proud to stand with my colleagues, with members of the community, with members of the clergy, as well as with our Governor and all of the respective agencies across the state of New York to say that we are finally going to do something about this. And so, Governor Cuomo, I look forward to seeing your, your daily, or if not your frequent to us with respect to how this initiative is going, where we are with respect to the gun violence, how many incidences of gun violence are taking place on a particular day and what it is as a state that we’re going to do about it. So, congratulations and thank you much.  

Governor Cuomo: Thank you very much. And you get the benediction.

Pastor Gil Monrose: Good afternoon. Thank you all again for having us today. We are in a real important moment in our communities. We have been saying for a long time to get not only the governor, but the nation to pay attention to what is happening in Central Brooklyn. And so for many years, myself and all of the leaders of the God squad, the clergy was working without the funding, without the recognition.

And I really want to thank again Governor Cuomo for coming to this place, this sacred ground, to release and launch what we are going to call something historic, of biblical proportion, where we have faith that moves mountains. And so we have again been grateful. We have such great leaders in Central Brooklyn that if history would be kind enough, they would say that, yes, we had not only the 43rd, but mighty Central Brooklyn, these great leaders who are here with us today. And we are so grateful to them. Every single person standing behind me is actually in front of me in the sense that they push us forward with the work that they’re doing.

And so we are very, again, grateful. Where did the Governor go? Oh! No, we want to thank you so much. Don’t go too far now. We want to thank you so much for being up to the challenge, coming to Brooklyn to really put his stake of his governorship on us. And so we are going to take this task. We’re going to run with it. And I think that we’re going to definitely see a brighter future in Central Brooklyn. God bless everyone. And God bless Brooklyn.