Faith leaders are lost and need to take up a more active role in helping deal with the rising violence in the city, TBS New Direction founder Marion Frampton has observed.
In an interview with Parkchester Times, Frampton said faith leaders used to be the first line of defense back in the days but that things were different now.
"With this rising violence that is going on throughout The Bronx, we need to bring our faith leaders together because they're lost. In all this epidemic and violence that is going on, the faith leaders used to be the first line of defence. When I was growing up, communities used to rely on the Pastors. Now that is all gone. Our faith leaders are no longer the line of defense," said Frampton who has since organised a unity march dubbed "United March for Clergy and community leaders" slated for this Saturday.
Frampton said the unity march will draw faith leaders of organizations from all across the Bronx.
"In light of the increasing overall crimes in the city and particularly in the Bronx, clergy and community are coming together for an anti-violence march on Saturday, December 12, 2020 in the Bronx," read a leaflet containing details of the march.
"Now we are not having this march to criticize them but to unify them. We have all people from different religious groups coming to march. We will march from Mount Eden avenue in The Bronx to the Supreme Court. We will have each and every faith leader talk on unity and what we can do. This march is not just about marching and playing but what we are going to do afterwards. Listen, don't take me wrong, it took me a long time to know there is God but people are tired of listening to prayers, marching and talking about this. It is time for us to put our boots on the ground and create programs as faith leaders so that we can help our youth," he said.
"All I want to do is bring up our faith leaders of all denominations because I truly believe that it starts with our faith leaders. Our faith leaders at one time were the first line of defense. Of course we need our police department. Right now our kids don't have no value of life, they have no value of religion. They have no value of anything because we are not showing anything and our government is just as bad. This is because everytime a kid out there gets caught for robbery, for murder and some politician is caught stealing millions of dollars and they only go to jail overnight. Where is the justice? What are we teaching our kids? That it is alright to steal with a pen but not with a gun? We need to teach them that it is not alright to steal with nothing, a gun or a pen. We need to teach our kids the value of life," said Frampton.
Frampton said TBS New Direction which has been around for the last five years, has been engaged in a number of public safety awareness programs.
"TBS created public safety long before the police department, long before the politicians started going out there talking about public safety. Three years ago, we started the first public community dinners with Sheikh Musa. We started up on 2222 on White Plains road at the United Christian Baptist Church. We took these public dinners around the Bronx. We have worked with a number of precincts. We worked at some Spanish church on Westchester Avenue. The violence just took us down because we was in full swing on public safety dinners but now it looks like everybody is involved. We have been involved with the police department as much as we can on this. But it takes a village," he said.
On recent calls by Black Lives Matter activists to defund the police, following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis early this year, Frampton noted that defunding the police would only create further problems for the communities.
"My views are not so much as far as defunding the police because when you defund the police, you are taking away a lot of civilian programs. You ain't gonna take away from the police per se. You take away the cadets program that our kids are involved in. What we need is heart. When these people join the police, they already have views on how life is supposed to go. In the police department, there is a lot of racists going on and we need to change the policies of racism which if you and I join the police department tomorrow, they don't know what we are until we get in there," he said. "What I do say is that we need to set up a database, federal and national. When these offices get involved in something, their names need to be on this database. There is need to have more record keeping of these officers because when these officers commit murder on a black youth or get involved in something, it ain't the first time. But if there was a database keeping these people a watch on these guys then I think we can deal with this issue more on going," said Frampton.
On his advice to kids who could be affiliated to gangs, Frampton, 65 who is a former gang member himself, observed that the gangs of today were different from the gangs of his time.
"Our children today are much more aware. They see more. They know more. Social media has put them right in the middle of the world without leaving their living room. They see more violence and more things being committed against people of color and our people are not coming out much. This is why we need a unity match. This is why we need more community based organizations, not just a few. We need more people coming out to work with our youths. You know there is a lot of youths out there who don't want to be out there but they have nowhere else to go. We have to create a program. Open back up our churches so that our youth have a place to go and don't have to be in the streets," concluded Frampton.