Community Leaders Blame 'Outside Groups' For East Flatbush Violence

Community leaders hold a press conference in front of a memorial to Kimani Gray

Community leaders in East Flatbush, Brooklyn say violence that has erupted over the past few days, following the killing of 16-year-old Kimani Gray, has been caused by people from outside the community.

“There are people, well intentioned as they may be, that are coming into the community and capitalizing on a terrible situation and making it worse,” said Jumaane Williams, who represents the area in the Council.

Williams said that 45 young people have ended up in prison this week, some violating their probation or parole, following their participation in vigils and protests in honor of Gray. Williams emphasized that “outside groups” have taken advantage of young peoples' anger over Gray's shooting and the community's relations with police, but declined to specify which groups he was referring to. Some media reports are pointing at members of the Occupy Movement.

Crystal Davis, whose 23-year-old sister Shantel was allegedly shot and killed by police last June in the same neighborhood, also called for an end to the violence and the destroying of property, such as the looting of a Rite Aid earlier this week.

“Our mothers, our fathers, our cousins are working inside of these stores to try to make a difference in our lives,” she said. “We cannot tear up our own community.”