Mayor Adams Appoints …..
New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced the appointment of community activist Andre T. Mitchell, in the newly formed position of “gun violence prevention czar.” The announcement was made at a press conference held outside City Hall on Thursday, June 2nd.
“Today I am announcing a new task force that will be co-chaired by A.T. Mitchell,” Adams announced. The task force, which will also be co-chaired by Deputy Mayor Sheen Wright, was formed under Executive Order 19. The rest of the deputy mayors and representatives from other city agencies will form part of the panel of the task force that will meet every week.
“This is an all-hands-on-deck moment,” the mayor said at the press conference.
Mitchell is an anti-violence activist, who founded the group Man Up! in Brooklyn after an 8-year-old boy was struck and killed by a stray bullet while walking home with his family. “Thank you to Mayor Adams for naming me to be the gun violence prevention czar,” he told the crowd to applause. “It’s a new title, it’s the first-ever, and it should be.”
“We should want some things that are different,” he added. “We’ve been dealing with this issue for far too long, and we’ve been using the same tactics over and over again and getting the same results. So, no one should have a problem with us trying something different.”
Mitchell founded Man Up! in 2004. The organization is said to use the “Cure Violence” method, which seeks to stop violence before it escalates. Man Up! also serves in a mentorship capacity, assisting with after-school programs and seeking employment opportunities.
Controversies on appointments made by Mayor Adams…
Mitchell is yet another controversial appointment by Mayor Adams. His organization was investigated and found guilty of financial misconduct in 2019. According to reports, Mitchell personally benefited from funds that his organization received.
It was also discovered that Mitchell’s children held positions in the organization for which they received remuneration. The 2019 investigation showed that both Mitchell’s daughter and son held the positions of Director of Administration and Program Instructor, for which they received annual salaries of $65,000 and $30,000 respectively.
After the investigation, the Department of Investigation made a recommendation that Man Up! draw up a plan on how to spend public funds provided to it as well as draft the necessary tax documents.
According to reports, the organization has signed contracts to the value of $26.6 million with the city since 2010. Mitchell was convicted on charges of manslaughter in 1988, a crime he claims he did not commit.
The question of whether the task force will be effective has been raised. This is because it will not be afforded financial or state resources. “This is a poor substitute for policy,” said Joe Fagan, a law professor at Columbia University who studies policing.
Fagan added that the task force will serve a symbolic purpose more than anything else. Some see the task force as a positive idea that takes a different approach by directly going into and engaging the community.
Mayor Adams fought back against the criticism by speaking in favor of Mitchell. He claims that he has known Mitchell for 30 years and believes he is the best man for the job. “People say, ‘Well, what about his background?’ Well, what about my background?” said the mayor, referring to his own not-so saintly history. “We’re not looking for a nun,” he added. “We’re looking for the right person for the job.”