S.O.S tries to change the culture of Crown Heights from one marked by destructive senseless street violence to one of community pride, peace and security. I have worked for many years helping individuals and communities to dream the changes they wanted to make and to make the changes they dreamed. I expect that we are going to do that here too. The people of Crown Heights are certainly strong enough, smart enough and determined enough to create the neighborhood they dream of. I feel privileged just to have a chance to help.
As director of the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center, Amy Ellenbogen oversees the day to day operations of the neighborhood problem solving center. She is currently focused on providing conflict resolution and youth court programming to schools and youth organizations in Brooklyn. She has worked in New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles as an educator, social worker, community activist and program founder. She founded ROOTED (Respecting Ourselves and Others Through Education), a Columbia University program designed to facilitate student dialogue around issues of identity as they relate to power and privilege. Ms. Ellenbogen has a BA degree in Ethnic studies and a Master’s degree in Social Work from Columbia University.
I am a Save Our Streets Violence Interrupter. I was born and raised in Brooklyn New York and have been a resident of Crown Heights for over twenty-nine years. Throughout my life I witnessed crime and violence. I was a victim of street violence myself. When I first heard about the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center and what S.O.S. stands for, I wanted to be part of it and do the kind of work that the S.O.S. staff does on a daily basis. There are a lot of residents in the community who know me and love me. Both the older and younger residents look up to me and respect me. I want to honor them and work to make our neighborhood a safer, better place. I want to be a positive role model. I hope that by showing that I can change my life and be a better person, I can be a positive influence on others.
I’m a Brooklyn native, born and raised. I was once a volatile youth, carrying guns and getting into serious issues with the law, as many youth do today. My last run in with the authorities ended with a lengthy sentence in federal prison. While incarcerated, my mother became terminally ill and one of her wishes in her last days was for me to straighten up my life and do something positive. I have always had the drive to teach the youth that there are alternatives to violence. S.O.S. has given me a platform to give back to the community that I took so much away from, and to teach young people the advantages of a different mind set. My own son is now 20 years old and attends college.
David Gaskin is the Outreach Supervisor for Save Our Streets Crown Heights. David arrived at S.O.S after working with diverse groups including people in the criminal justice system, alternatives to incarceration and re-entry programs, and people impacted by H.I.V/AIDS, substance abuse and domestic violence. David is also a former gang member who now promotes healthy masculinity among young black men.
D. Stanley is a former original member of the notorious New York City Blood gang from the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. He spent his teens and early adult years deeply involved in gang banging, drug dealing and violence, activities that eventually led to his imprisonment. During his time in prison he educated himself and acquired a new outlook on life. His present lifestyle and work are driven by his determination to never be involved in anything that might cause him to leave his children behind and return to prison. He has vowed to use his wit and street knowledge to pacify the streets of his neighborhood and make them safer by reducing and, hopefully, one day stopping the shooting and killing in his community.
Derick Latif Scott is one of the founding members of the Save Our Streets Crown Heights outreach team and has served as Senior Outreach Worker and Hospital responder with S.O.S. He currently serves as Outreach Supervisor for S.O.S Bed-Stuy. Born and raised in Brownsville Brooklyn, New York, Mr. Scott is no stranger to the justice system. During his youth, Scott came into conflict with the law, and eventually found himself serving time in prison. After his lengthy time, Mr. Scott resolved to use his experiences and education to help eradicate gun violence in New York’s inner city neighborhoods.