Yahoo! News Photo Staff
East New York, a residential neighborhood in the eastern section of Brooklyn, has battled poverty since the 1950s. In April 2018, I began documenting grassroots community action in response to the social problems associated with poverty — from street crime and drug addiction to gun violence. In this series, which is part of a long-term urban project I started in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, in 2012, I have been following the efforts of a local organization called ManUp Inc. Members use the Egyptian word “hotep,” which means “to be at peace,” to greet people in their community. This choice demonstrates ManUp’s powerful and focused aim, and my work represents aspects of the difficult challenge the group faces.
Efforts to change a troubled reality in the context of an impoverished community must be directed at different sources of concern simultaneously. Community action maximizes the strategy of empowerment through personal relations and shared goals. Cure Violence, a program based on the Chicago Ceasefire Initiative and used by ManUp, employs strategies indicated by the key word “cure” in its name. The program defines its challenge with concepts borrowed from the prevention of the spread of a contagious disease: detecting and interrupting conflicts, identifying and treating high-risk individuals and examining social norms. Using principles set down by Ceasefire — itself an initiative of the Chicago Project — outreach team workers for ManUp try to break the chain of street violence by acting as peer counselors to potential perpetrators and victims. A significant result of this proactive approach in East New York is that people are recognizing the potential of their participation in the process of transformation.
Text and photography by Amnon Gutman.
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Friends and family gather to celebrate the 31st birthday of Rocky, a resident of Linden Houses, E. New York. (Photograph by Amnon Gutman)
A sign that was put on an electricity poll by ManUp representatives to remind the residents of E. New York, Omega catchment area, that they can come to the ManUp office if they have any questions or problems. (Photograph by Amnon Gutman)
Brother Curley of the ManUp cure violence team coaches kids during a basketball game organized by ManUp for the community of E. New York. (Photograph by Amnon Gutman)
Members of the “Wounded Fathers” fatherhood initiative program of ManUp embrace each other at the end of the weekly meeting. The program is a weekly meeting of young and older fathers discussing life in E. New York and its challenges. (Photograph by Amnon Gutman)
Deuce, left, and other residents of E. New York, in the catchment area of the ManUp Omega cure violence team, dance during a street party organized by ManUp. (Photograph by Amnon Gutman)
DJ AZ, left, who works with ManUp Inc., during a recording of his new video clip, “Money on My Mind,” in E. New York. (Photograph by Amnon Gutman)
DJ AZ (30), who works with ManUp Inc., during a recording of his new video clip: “Money On My Mind,” in Wortman Ave., E. New York. (Photograph by Amnon Gutman)
Friends of DJ AZ, say goodbye to his family members before heading out, after spending some time all together at AZ’s place in E. New York. (Photograph by Amnon Gutman)
The daughter of Tina (one of the Cure Violence Alpha team members of Manup), during a visit to her mother, at the office of ManUp in E. New York. (Photograph by Amnon Gutman)
Family and friends of Clayton Hemmingway Jr., 16, rally outside of his building to demand justice for his 2017 slaying. C.J. was murdered on Nov. 4, 2017, at the entrance to his apartment building, after an argument on the basketball court in Gresh Park. The murderer is still at large. (Photograph by Amnon Gutman)
A resident of Linden houses reads a sign that was put by ManUp Inc., in the building entrance: “The KKK would like to take this time to salute and congratulate all gangbangers/shooters, for the daily slaughter of thousands of people of colour each year. you are doing a marvellous job. keep killing each other for nothing……” (Photograph by Amnon Gutman)
Dionne Boyed, mother of Clay Hemmingway Jr., 16, who was murdered in Linden houses, E. New York, sobs during a memorial on C.J.’s birthday at Ever Greene Cemetery. C.J. was murdered on Nov. 4, 2017, at the entrance to his apartment building, after an argument on the basketball court in Gresh Park. The murderer is still at large. (Photograph by Amnon Gutman)
Members of different Cure Violence teams carry an empty white coffin to a press conference at City Hall in New York City for the beginning of gun violence awareness month in New York. (Photograph by Amnon Gutman)
Young adults chilling on a Friday night in Linden Houses, E. New York. (Photograph by Amnon Gutman)
Residents of E. New York, gather to cheer and support during the “Gersh Park Tournament, Heaven Is a Playground” basketball tournament that happens every year in E. New York. (Photography by Amnon Gutman)
Brother Tivon, left, of the ManUp Alpha cure violence team takes a selfie during the “NYC Youth Over Guns” march over the Brooklyn Bridge. The march marks the beginning of Gun Violence Awareness Month (June) in New York. (Photograph by Amnon Gutman)
A resident of E. New York stands in an outdoor park at the end of the fatherhood march organized by ManUp on Father’s Day. (Photograph by Amnon Gutman)
Residents of E. New York walk underneath the 3 train railway line on Pennsylvania Ave. (Photograph by Amnon Gutman)
Residents of E. New York gather near a BBQ chicken stand to talk about everything, near Pennsylvania Avenue. (Photograph by Amnon Gutman)
A nighttime view of E. New York housing projects seen from the Roy Sweeney Cricket Oval. (Photograph by Amnon Gutman)