'This is what brings hope.' Cure Violence center opens in East Flatbush

The center is located near the corner of Church and Utica avenues.

Greg Thompson

May 11, 2024, 12:38 AM

Updated 15 days ago

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The 67th Precinct Clergy Council, nicknamed the "God Squad," celebrated the ribbon-cutting of its new Project Echo building on Friday, a place that they call a "Cure Violence" center.
The center is located near the corner of Church and Utica avenues.
Officials say they know it will take more than just one building to accomplish that goal, but they do believe this can be a useful tool, acting as "a safe haven for our young people," according to Pastor Edward Hinds, president of the God Squad.
"It's just a place for wellness, and a space for our community," he says.
The East Flatbush community is one that NYPD data shows has seen a rise in murder, robbery and assault, compared to this time last year.
Cheikh Gueye, who will serve as the director of operation for Project Echo acknowledges the problem, saying that "violence is definitely a disease that we're trying to cure, and working with our young people is our first line of defense."
New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams agrees with that sentiment, telling News 12 that when it comes to neighborhood violence, "one of the things that (young people) would say to us is where do you want us to go? And we would say that's a good point."
Also a point that organizers are looking to answer with the Project Echo, which they hope can become what they call a one-stop shop for community, offering everything from food to a place for kids to do their homework, to mentorship, vocational training and even therapy services."
"It's important that we start to kind of bring out what are the real qualities of our neighborhood? What are the things that we could be doing to improve the quality of life?" says Gueye.
State Assembly Member Monique Chandler-Waterman approves of the idea also, saying "this is what brings hope - all of us working together to deal with public safety - to share responsibility."
To work, people will actually have to come though, and teenagers who were in attendance, like 16-year-old Tessfa Haywood, seem to think they will.
"Especially this area, you don't see a lot of this, everybody coming together, different neighborhoods," said Haywood, "so I feel like this is definitely a turning point."
His friend, 15-year-old Tafari Alexander, agreed, calling the place "like an extension of family almost, another pillar of support."
The God Squad says Project Echo's doors are always open to anyone of any age to just walk in seven days a week between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.


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