March 25, 2021 By Michael Dorgan
Around 40 people gathered outside the Woodside Houses NYCHA complex Thursday to call for an end to local gun violence and to demand justice for the victims of recent shootings.
Elected officials, community leaders, residents and family members of the victims came together outside 50-51 Broadway to condemn a series of shootings that have taken place in the neighborhood this month – which have rocked the community and left residents in fear of walking the streets.
Some of the attendees carried signs that read “make our streets safe again” and “I should not be afraid to walk outside.”
Several held signs with the words “Justice for Gudelia Vallinas,” in reference to the 37-year-old mother-of-two who was killed by a stray bullet while walking near the NYCHA complex on March 12.
Two other shootings, one fatal, have taken place outside the housing development since.
On Tuesday, Elliot Clairborn, 29, was gunned down on 49th Street and later died. A day later, a 32-year-old man was shot in the back outside the complex on 49th Street near 31st Avenue. He is expected to survive.
The Thursday rally was organized by Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and was also attended by State Sen. Jessica Ramos and City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer.
At least two city council candidates were present, including Tiffany Cabán, who is running for the District 22 council seat, and Brent O’Leary, who is running for District 26.
Richards said that he was “sounding the alarm” about the rise in shootings and said that the neighborhood belongs to the people– not the perpetrators of gun violence.
“Over the course of the last two or three weeks, we’ve seen our streets turn into a war zone,” Richards said.
“These are our streets, these are not your streets. The residents of this community… deserve to be able to go out about their business without dodging bullets,” Richards said.
Richards said that the death of Vallinas, in particular, was “senseless” and that she has left behind two children.
“The pain of knowing that their mother will never return is unspeakable, it’s tragic, it’s unacceptable,” he said.
Richards called for comprehensive gun control as well as more funds allocated toward programs that aim to mentor young men and stamp out gun violence.
He said that many men have found it tough to find employment and have been “underserved” by city programs. He said many have been pushed into joining gangs to survive.
Police say that Vallinas was shot during a gang-related dispute.
Vallinas’ widower, Alfredo, spoke affectionately about his wife at the rally Thursday and told the attendees that he and his wife had been together since they were teenagers.
“They did not only kill a wife, and a mother, a friend–they also killed me too,” Alfredo said.
“I know that I’m not going to see her again and that pain will never go away,” he said, as he fought back tears.
Alfredo said that she came to Queens from Mexico and that she was a devoted mother and wife.
He warned that no one will be safe if the violence continues.
“I do not wish this on anybody. Today it was my family… but tomorrow it could be yours,” he said, adding that they would have been celebrating their 15-year wedding anniversary in May had she not perished.
“I just want the streets to be safe again, we shouldn’t be living like this, like animals,” he said.
State Sen. Jessica Ramos, who grew up just two blocks away on 47th street, said people should not have to live in a neighborhood where they are at risk of being killed by stray bullets.
“The streets should be safe to walk for everybody at all times… so put the damn guns down!” Ramos shouted. “We can’t allow any more [young] children to bury their parents.”
Ramos suggested that conflict resolution skills be taught in the community to quell the violence.
Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, who represents the 26th District which includes the Woodside Houses complex, said that the community was united as “one family” against gun violence.
Van Bramer said that some of the solutions to stop the bloodshed should include building a new community center in the area as well as investing in community programs for young people like violence interrupter initiatives. These initiatives typically lead to the formation of community groups, where the leaders aim to settle local disputes before they spiral out of control.
“I’m calling on the mayor to fully fund these programs to … have these opportunities for young people that we know prevent gun violence,” Van Bramer said.
“Woodside houses is a great community made up of great people and every single person deserves to be safe,” he said.
Other speakers included Cabán, pastor and community leader Bishop Mitchell Taylor, the president of the Woodside Houses Tenant Association Annie Cotton-Morris, and the president of the Astoria Houses Tenant Association Claudia Coger.
“Around 40 people gathered outside the Woodside Houses NYCHA complex…” but yet thousands show up to defund the police, no bail and criminal reform. This is why people running for office say and do what they do.
If you want to start peace simply legalize drugs and treat it similar to alcahol. It’s like 1920’s prohibition out there. Politicians are MAKING MONEY from the violence and drugs. They don’t want you to know but it’s true. Legalize it and you’ll see the black community be peaceful and have a better standard of living/quality of life
So true… I mean I can get fentanyl, a legal drug, from drug dealers in white coats with offices. Legalize then local governments must regulate.
Want an end to gun violence? Stop enabling criminals and psychos, enable honest citizens, and stop this defund the police nonsense
You will NEVER end gun violence you can slow it down to a crawl by:
#1 5 years NO BAIL for anyone carrying or using an illegal unregistered gun for any reason.
#2 10 years NO BAIL if the serial numbers are filed off.
#3 double everything if you have priors even if you are a “teenager” eg 14 years old,
#4 be prepared to be called every racist name in the book, and then some.
If anyone needs guns it’s people in poverty. You’re taking away their right to defend themselves. You must be writing from the safety of your keyboard to really understand government housing.
Bring back stop and frisk minus locking up people for pot
I cant wait to watch these politicians fight street gangs and drug cartels with community centers and violence interrupters. It sounds great in a utopia world, but probably not in reality. Good luck with that. I feel bad for the people in the NYCHA bldg when you defund the police they are the ones who suffer the most.
El- You obviously have never spoken with somebody in these NYCHA buildings. Utopia starts and ends in your living room somewhere between your couch and TV.
@Chapo- If police weren’t tied up with so many calls regarding the mentally ill maybe there would be more men for patrol duty.
You are in fact mentally ill if you choose to shoot someone for any reason other than self defense
Look! a Jimmy Van Bramer photo op! Gee, Jimmy: maybe your anti-police rhetoric and the actions of DeBlasio are why the police do not want to be pro active? Why would anyone want to join the NYPD after listening to the rhetoric coming from Jimmy and people like him? Jimmy and other politicians hate the police until they need them.
Wait why is Jimmy Van Brammer there? I thought just last week he caught the Covid campaigning, tested positive.
Not sure what JVB was thinking. None of these people are practicing social distancing either. Do we need Dr. Fauchi or Dr. Chokshi to explain Covid protocols?
June 3, 2020 jimmy tweeted
“I will not vote for a budget that does not dramatically reduce funding for the NY”
June 2020 Richards criticized the mayor for spending 25 million for a new graduate police class. All these politicians were on the defund the police bandwagon less than a year ago.
How do they have the gall to come to a rally and scream for justice? What did they think would happen? Who do they think will bring the justice? One of their community counselors. They are using these people for their own benefit and could careless about them. One month its defund the police the next its stop the violence, stop the guns. The hypocrisy is unreal. VOTE THEM OUT!
“I’m calling on the mayor to fully fund these programs to … have these opportunities for young people that we know prevent gun violence,” Van Bramer said. ummm…the mayor IS the reason we have so much gun violence. whats wrong with JVB? how clueless can someone be?
Aboondy: Google jimmy van brammer defund the police. Look around at what you find. The point is this guys parrots whatever issue is in the wind that month. He is a poor leader.
I agree the mayor is a problem too. Go on google what politicians were saying what in june of 2020. Stop being naive.
Also check out Fox News distortions on “defunding” the police. Police need to have less interactions with time consuming mentally ill and mental distress calls not to mention baby sitting for hours bringing perps to psyche wards. This at least frees up manpower for things like patrol. Stop protecting police overtime Mr. Lynch! Put the tax paying public above your quest for more money.
It’s our tax money. It should go to more cops and their overtime.
Blue Lives- Being fine with just handing out OT is fiscally irresponsible and naive.
What’s naive and fiscally irresponsible? Real answer: using tax payer money for civilians and social workers to diffuse violent thugs.