Cuomo’s anti-violence plan gives LI parents hope

Posted: Updated:
BRENTWOOD -

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing $11.5 million to help fight gang violence on Long Island, and parents in afflicted communities say it gives them hope.

The Salvadoran street gang MS-13 has been linked to a number of brutal slayings, including the killings of teenagers Nissa Mickens and Kayla Cuevas.

"It breaks my heart to see all the kids like that," says Manual Morocho, a father of three in Brentwood, which has seen some of the worst violence.

Morocho says some young people joins gangs because they don't have much structure otuside of school -- especially children in low-income families whose parents are working two jobs to make ends meet. Those jobs take parents' time away from their kids, Morocho says.

The governor's proposal would fund after-school programs, job training and other educational efforts meant to keep kids off the streets.

"Once they see there is something to be involved in, to be part of, the kids will go for it," Morocho says.

And while the move is being applauded by many immigrant activists, some say the state needs to do more to cultivate trust between the community and law enforcement.

That includes ending a program that has placed state troopers in many schools, which advocates blame for incarcerating immigrant children.

"It has resulted in many young people unnecessarily being labeled gang members," says Walter Barrientos, of the immigrant advocacy group Make the Road NY. "And this has meant that many of them have been put in federal detention centers across the country."

At this point it's unclear exactly how the governor plants to allocate the money, but much of it is expected to benefit Suffolk County.

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