Violence intervention summit: “Our aims were to put a spotlight on gang violence in the African community,” according to chairman Mory Kouyate

The African Immigrants’ Commission of New York and Connecticut in partnership with I Am My Community Inc, have organized on February 25, 2023 in the Bronx violence intervention summit. The African Journal has interviewed Mory Kouyate who gave us a big picture of the summit.

The African Journal ( AJ):  You organized on February 25, 2023 the violence intervention summit. How many people attended that summit?

Mory Kouyate  ( MK) : The attendance was not at a level we wanted . Our target audience was the youth in the 168th and Grand concourse area. They did not turn out as much . However, we cannot underestimate the impact the event had. We were able to shine a light on the violence in our community  nationwide through the presence of national news outlets such as CBS News 2, and Bronx 12 News. They amplified our voice and our messages beyond our expectations.  

AJ:  Why a summit that focused on violence ?

MK: There has been steady increase of violence statewide but among the Bronx African youth in Grand concourse area and in Harlem the increase has been even more troubling . Many of the youth have been dropping out of school in some cases due to lack of parental supervision. Many of them end up in the streets because they have nowhere to go . 

AJ:   There are different types of violence. What types of violence you referred to and why did you focus on that specific violence?

MK:  We zero in on gang violence among the youth . We asked ourselves what kind of future we are going to have if the youth of our community are out committing crimes , getting arrested and having a criminal record. We cannot be indifferent to this problem. We must hold our leaders to task , our elected officials must do more to provide a safe place for our youth to spend time. The parents must take personal responsibility and be more engaged in their children education.

AJ: How do you explain the expansion of that type of violence in our community?

MK: There are many reasons why we see a huge increase of violence in our community. There is lack of a safe place for the youth to go to after school. Many of them do not want to go home thus they end up in the streets . There is also the lack of supervision, many parents are too busy working . They are not aware about what their children are doing afterschool. The children lack more positive role models that they can look up to. 

AJ:  Did you talk about solutions regarding that type of violence and what are those solutions?

MK: As solutions , we discussed the creation of the violence Intervention task force . The sole role of this task force will be to address *beefs* among the youth before they become violent. Moreover , we discussed the creation of a youth center by our elected officials that can serve as a safe zone for our youth . Finally , we discussed parental roles as key to reducing violence and the high school dropout rate .

Mory Kouyate

AJ: The summit has brought together several hosts. What was their  contribution in term of skills?

MK: The summit brought together different leaders  from diverse backgrounds to address the main concern that we all share right now and that is gang violence in our community . They all had unique perspective and each of them brought different  solutions that can be implemented and measured .

AJ:  What was your goal by organizing the summit.

 MK:  Our aims were to put a spotlight on gang violence in the African community in the Bronx and in Harlem. To engage the youth , parents ,  religious leaders and the community leaders ,to listen to their concerns and their solutions to this problem . Moreover , we also wanted to hear about what they can do themselves in order to be a part of the solution not the problem.

AJ:   How did you achieve that goal?

MK:  We met many of our expectations by doing exactly what we said we will do which was to engage and to listen . Where we were short, we will continue to work tirelessly to make a difference. For instance, we must reach out to many more of the youth from our community in order to make a difference. 

AJ:    Can we expect another summit on violence next year?

MK: Yes ! Our intentions are to stay on this issue until we make a difference. Our next event is a public safety dinner. This will be a dinner but also a resource fair and a job fair where we plan on inviting different city agencies to present. 

AJ: What is your message to our community regarding that type of violence?

MK:  We understand that the parents have to work . Nonetheless, we must keep track of our children ‘ s education. Attend parents’ teacher meeting find out how your kids are doing in school . Parental engagement will significantly reduce dropout rate which will lead to many more kids graduating and thus reduce the  chances of our  children joining the gangs. We must remain steadfast and tireless on this issue .


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