City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito was driving her mother to the airport at 10:30 p.m. last month when the two heard a "thud" against their Volkswagon Golf as they traveled down Third Avenue. That "thud" happened to be a 9mm bullet fired by a 16-year-old boy, who indiscriminately shot 14 bullets at a rival gang member stopped at a red light. "If I would have been driving any slower. If I would have been, whatever…It just puts things in perspective," Mark-Viverito tells the Daily News. The boy has been arrested on reckless endangerment and weapons charges, but the law seems lacking in a proper statute for nearly killing someone for no reason.
Mark-Viverito, whose 8th district encompasses parts of East Harlem, had planned to launch an initiative against violence well before her experience. "I feel like we're just losing kids, left and right. It's really overwhelming. This is a real public health crisis in our community."
She's pushing for more communication between residents and the police, midnight basketball programs, job training for those incarcerated on petty crimes and "violence interrupters" who are former gang members to speak with at-risk children.