Author Archives: MMV

Join Us for Our Sixth Annual Teen Fair!

Join us TOMORROW, August 28th, for our 6th Annual Teen Fair from 1:00 to 4:00 pm on East 104th Street, between Lexington and 3rd Avenues. The annual event, sponsored by Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito helps connect our young people with services in the community as they prepare to go back to school.

Stop by and spend an afternoon with us! There will be free food for attendees, live music and dance performances by young people, and a backpack giveaway generously sponsored by Kars 4 Kids. Throughout the afternoon, local organizations will set up tables to recruit teens to take part in their programs. Don’t miss it!!

The event is co-sponsored by the El Barrio/East Harlem Youth Violence Task Force, the Office of Senator Jose M. Serrano, the Office of Assemblyman Robert J. Rodriguez and Manhattan Community Board 11.


Council Members Mark-Viverito and James Call on DOE to Combat Youth Obesity Through Expanded Physical Education in Schools


As the Bloomberg administration promotes its proposed ban on the sale of large sugary drinks, Council Members Melissa Mark-Viverito and Letitia James have spearheaded a letter to NYC Department of Education Chancellor Walcott highlighting deficiencies in the City’s physical education (PE) program. The letter, which was signed by 32 other Council Members, points to several studies indicating that the city’s children, particularly in low-income communities of color, are not receiving the minimum required gym classes, despite the important role that regular physical activity plays in reducing obesity.

“With all the attention being placed on the Bloomberg administration’s proposed soda ban, we felt that there was a larger story to tell about how other policy choices by this administration are contributing to the obesity epidemic in this City,” said Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. “The disparities between our city’s neighborhoods when it comes to physical education are unacceptable. We look forward to working with the DOE to achieve a marked improvement in the City’s physical education program, particularly in low-income communities of color.”

“Unlike the administration’s ‘soda ban’, the expansion of physical fitness activities and education in schools will go far to teach the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle from an early age.” said Council Member Letitia James, who has been working with “Let’s Move Brooklyn” (part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s national youth fitness campaign) this summer, speaking at their educational panel as well as hosting the “Brooklyn Olympic Fun Day Events” in Bedford-Stuyvesant last month.

According to a recent New York Times article, one in five city high school students reported not having gym class in an average week. Additionally, none of the 31 elementary schools visited by the NYC Comptroller’s Office last year met New York State standards on PE. And a 2012 study conducted by the NYC Strategic Alliance for Health found only 6 out of 74 elementary schools studied were meeting state requirements.

The New York State Education Department requires that PE classes be held every day for students in grades K to 3, and three times a week for grades 4 to 6, for a minimum of 120 minutes a week; and at least 90 minutes a week for grades 7 and 8. Three gym classes a week are required for grades 7 through 12 in one semester, and twice a week in another.

The communication to the Chancellor requested that his office provide the Council with data on the City’s PE program; clarification on the DOE’s policy on PE in co-located schools; and information regarding the DOE’s strategy to improve PE in schools and reduce PE disparities across neighborhoods.

Melissa Featured in a Stop & Frisk documentary, ‘Life Under Suspicion’

Melissa is featured in the Educational Video Center’s powerful new documentary on Stop and Frisk titled ‘Life Under Suspicion,’ which recently won an award from the New York Civil Liberties Union’s Freedom of Expression Contest. The film documents the criminalization of an entire generation of young men of color in New York City.

“The Educational Video Center has done a remarkable job empowering youth in our community,” said Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito. “This project is giving voice to those who are most victimized by the alienating stop-and-frisk policy. These young people are being trained to be journalists and documentary film makers who can fight this injustice and make a difference.”

Synopsis: The NYPD stopped and frisked nearly 700,000 people in 2011 in an effort to remove guns from the street. Critics point to the policy’s fundamental failure since a gun was recovered in less than 1 percent of the cases. But a generation of black and Hispanic males–who constitute 90 percent of those stopped– is being criminalized and dehumanized as a result. Educational Video Center youth producers investigate this critical problem that impacts them so directly, speaking with political leaders, legal experts, and young people in neighborhoods across the city, in order to give a human face to this critical problem

Thousands of children could lose their childcare and after school programs

 Tomorrow, May 30th at 5 pm – Come join the El Barrio/ East Harlem Youth Violence Task Force for our Town Hall discussion to find out about the Mayor’s Cuts to childcare and afterschool programs and get involved to stop them. The event will be held at the East Harlem Children’s Aid Center – 130 East 101st St (@ Lex).

The Campaign for Children will present on the impact the cuts have on our District and our city. Representatives from organizations in our community will speak out on the cuts as well.

In order to reduce youth violence, we must protect these vital programs which nurture our children and keep them safe after school.  Come join the fight and Learn how you can connect to local actions! They Say Cutback, We Say Fight Back!!

Sponsored by Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito & the El Barrio/ East Harlem Youth Violence Task Force, Senator Jose M. Serrano, Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez, Campaign for Children, Boys and Girls Harbor, Children’s Aid Society, Children’s Arts & Science Workshops, East Harlem Tutorial Program, East Side Houses, Harlem RBI, Just Us Inc., Salvation Army, Stanley Isaacs Center, Supportive Children’s Advocacy Network, and YMCA.

For more information, contact Elsie Encarnacion at 212-828-9800 or

Community Forum on “Raising the Age,” Dialogue led by Judge Michael Corriero of the NY Center for Juvenile Justice

Did you know that New York is one of only TWO states that sets the age of criminal responsibility as low as 16?

Would you like to hear about and share your thoughts on new legislation being proposed to change this?

We are co-sponsoring a discussion on the proposal with the Child Welfare Organizing Project, the New York Center for Juvenile Justice, and the Community Connections for Youth.

Date: Tuesday, May 8, 6-8 pm
Location: Crystal Ballroom at Taino Towers (240 E. 123 St., at 2nd Ave.)
Dinner will be served

For more info, call the Child Welfare Organizing Project at (212)348-3000, email allison @ or register here.

Renaming of 139th St. and St. Brook Ave. to Naiesha (Nana) Pearson Place Saturday

Saturday, we will be holding a street renaming to rename 139th St. and St. Brook Ave. to Naiesha (Nana) Pearson Place.

Naiesha (Nana) Pearson was killed at her neighborhood’s end-of-summer barbeque when two men got into an argument and a gun was fired. Unfortunately, the bullet ended up hitting Naiesha and she later died in the hospital. But beyond that tragedy, her death had a ripple effect that reached far beyond the neighborhood.

After the untimely death, her family and community took on the responsibility of preventing further deaths to gun violence. Naiesha’s death led to the creation of the Walk Against Gun Violence rally, which is now an annual event in the South Bronx community. After her death, Naiesha’s aunt, Gloria Cruz founded the Bronx chapter of the New Yorkers Anti-Gun Violence, as well as the first Gun Buy Back program in the Bronx. Her death also led to create stricter rules for buying guns and to require bullets to be microstamped with unique markings in order to identify them.

Wednesday: Panel on Combating Youth Violence with Melissa

Melissa will be speaking on a panel at the New School’s Center for New York City Affairs will be holding an event Combating Youth Violence: Concrete Solutions for New York City on Wednesday, March 21 from 8:30 AM to 10:30 AM at the Theresa Lang Community and Student Center, 55 West 13th St. (between 5th and 6th Avenues), 2nd Floor. Admission is free but attendees must reserve a seat by emailing

Youth violence has declined sharply over two decades–more than 70 percent in New York State, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Yet in some neighborhoods there are now increasing reports of gang activity and violence. Tensions and distrust remain high between law enforcement officials and community members–especially young people. Leaders in other cities have shown that youth, communities, and law enforcement can work together for successful solutions. Can we follow that path in New York? What strategies are already working, and how can we make them stronger?

Remarks from:
David Kennedy, author of Don’t Shoot: One Man, A Street Fellowship, and the End of Violence in Inner-City America; Director, John Jay Center for Crime Prevention and Control

Followed by a conversation with:
Phillip Banks, III, Chief of Community Affairs, New York City Police Department
Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Member, District 8, New York City Council
Reean Charles, Organizer, Youth Organizing to Save Our Streets (Y.O.S.O.S.)
and others

Youth Violence Task Force Platform Released!

The El Barrio/East Harlem Youth Violence Task Force released its official platform yesterday, following more than a year of community discussions and meetings with young people. The Task Force, organized by Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, was founded after the Council Member and community groups noticed a growth in neighborhood violence among the youth.  It is a diverse collaborative of youth and community organizations that aims to directly involve young people in the development of positive alternatives to gang and gun violence.  The platform is available for download here.

(c) William Alatriste New York City Council

The press conference unveiling the platform was held outside the Johnson Community Center, which has been in the works for over 10 years as an important resource for our community’s youth, but still has not been opened.  Senator Jose Serrano, Council Member Jumaane Williams and local youth and community groups were all on hand to support the work of the Task Force.   The platform calls for collective action on the part of government, law enforcement, non-profits, youth, parents, schools, and the community as a whole to address the recent rise in youth violence.

The recommendations, which derive from ideas that were shared during a series of community discussions and other gatherings of local youth, revolve around seven key areas:

  1. Outreach to High Risk Youth
  2. Improving Police/Community Relations
  3. Extracurricular Youth Programming
  4. Youth Employment
  5. Investments in Public Education
  6. Parental Involvement
  7. Youth Empowerment.

Some specific recommendations include: introducing the “Violence Interrupters” Model in El Barrio/East Harlem, which has helped to prevent shootings and retaliatory violence among youth in other communities, successfully re-opening the James Weldon Johnson Center, reinstating the New York Midnight Basketball program, and leveraging the Young Men’s Initiative funds for workforce development.

This platform is only the beginning.  To learn more about the work ahead, please contact Elsie Encarnacion at or 212-828-9800.

Tomorrow: Join Us as the Youth Violence Task Force Unveils Anti-Violence Platform

Tomorrow, November 10th, at 3:30pm, Council Member Mark-Viverito, East Harlem community-based organizations, local youth, and other elected officials will release the El Barrio/East Harlem Youth Violence Task Force’s official platform, which calls for collective action by government, non-profits and the community to reduce neighborhood violence.  The platform’s recommendations build upon ideas shared by East Harlem youth at community discussions held over the past year.  The press conference will be held outside of the James Weldon Johnson Community Center located at Lexington Avenue and 115th Street. This brand new community center, which has been in the works for over a decade, could be a vital resource to our youth, but is still shuttered.

The release of the Youth Violence platform follows a story published in this Sunday’s New York Daily News that revealed that Council Member Mark-Viverito’s car was hit by a stray bullet this past September. The alleged shooter was a 16 year old young man.  Council Member Mark-Viverito will speak about the incident and how it reinforces the need for collective action on the part of the community and the city to prevent more young people from turning to gangs and gun violence.  Youth and community leaders will also speak about the recommendations outlined in the platform and call for an end to senseless violence.

We welcome all community members, friends of East Harlem/El Barrio, and concerned citizen to join us. An official copy of the report will be made available here tomorrow afternoon.

Council Member Mark-Viverito’s Car Hit by Stray Bullet

Photo by Enid Alvarez/New York Daily News

Yesterday, the Daily News published an article, which revealed that Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito’s car was hit by a stray bullet during a shooting in September.  The bullet was recently found lodged in her tail light.  The article highlights the work of the Task Force and helps build anticipation for this Thursday’s release of our platform.

Click here to read the article.

You can also read the Council Member’s statement in response to the article here.  Here is an exerpt:

Although the incident I was unknowingly involved in, in retrospect, was truly scary, unnerving, and extremely unfortunate, it is in no way a reflection of our youth or who we are as a community.  To me it is indicative of a greater challenge before us.  That young man, out on the street at 10:30 pm, carrying a gun and aiming to shoot someone, was surely let down by many people along the way, and that saddens me.  It is an “all hands on deck” moment for our community and our city.  We all have a role to play, and that is the message of the Youth Violence Task Force.  We can’t stand idly by while we are losing a generation of our youth.