Bringing beauty to a Wyandanch street to deter gun violence

A dozen volunteers picked up rubbish and planted boxwood on a street in Wyandanch on Sunday, adding splashes of color to beautify the stretch of road on the Straight Path as well as orange signs that read ‘end gun violence’.

“If you come in through Dix Hills and once you cross the lanes, you hit Wyandanch. Wyandanch is beautiful. But you don’t see it. … It’s kind of sad,” said company owner Renita Certain. “We hope to change the narrative of the neighborhood.”

Certain’s Spin The Yard store, which also operates as a non-profit community resource center, received a $10,000 grant for landscaping. The Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design grant was awarded by Everytown for Gun Safety, a national gun violence prevention group.

“The idea is to make this area look neat, and by doing so, we hope it will help prevent crime,” said Jana Gale, co-manager of Moms Demand Action in Long Island, who arranged the cleanup with Certain.

Organizer Jana Gale plants shrubs at the Spin the Yard Wear Orange event on Straight Path in Wyandanch.
Credit: Jeff Bachner

Sunday’s event was the first step in a month-long beautification project funded by the grant. Organizers said they planned to paint a mural on a building opposite the Certain store and create a memorial site for those who lost to gun violence.

Like other volunteers, Indiana Bumpers came dressed in an orange shirt – in honor of their son, Malik Stoddart.

“Everything I do is for him,” said Bumpers, who started Malik’s Path after 18-year-old Stoddart was shot dead in September 2016 on Irving Avenue, just around the corner from the site of Sunday’s cleanup.

The color orange was worn by the friends of Hadiya Pendleton, who was shot and killed in a Chicago playground in 2013. Wear Orange became a three-day national campaign beginning on National Crime Awareness Day. gun violence, which was Friday, and ending Sunday. .

Emery Demby-Cummings 7 shows flowers she plants during the Spin...

Emery Demby-Cummings 7 shows off flowers she plants during the Wear Orange event hosted by Spin the Yard on Straight Path in Wyandanch.
Credit: Jeff Bachner

Bumpers said his son was a track star who was preparing to start at Monroe College in New Rochelle.

“He loved Wyandanch. He planned to go to school and come back,” Bumpers said. “We want to give back to the community. Of course, he never had the opportunity to do so. So I have to. »

Sunday’s cleanup also follows massacres last month in Buffalo, where 10 people were killed at a supermarket, and in Uvalde, Texas, where a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school.

Long Island authorities said police responded to dozens of threats against schools over the past two weeks, prompting heightened security measures and improved training protocols.

“We’ve had a flurry of new members joining over the past two to three weeks,” Gale said. “People have stepped up, off the touchline, that’s what’s happening.”

Bumpers said she got involved in gun violence prevention to spare other families the pain she endured after her son’s death.

“If I could…save a mother from the heartache that I’m going through, you know, it wouldn’t be in vain,” she said. “What I do in the community would not be in vain.

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