Flatbush murder of 12-year-old leaves community gutted

The East Flatbush mother of a 12-year-old who was killed by a gun bullet while eating with family is asking for some kind of justice.

Kade Lewin was pronounced dead at the scene after a flurry of gun bullets struck the car where he and his family were eating. His cousin, Jenna Ellis, 20, was the driver and was shot six times but is expected to recover.

“Please somebody say something. I’m asking for justice. Please. I’m asking for justice,” Kade Lewin’s mother Suzzette Lewin, said while holding back tears. Lewin continued to describe the gun violence she has seen in the neighborhood like when a gun bullet went through her mothers car window last summer.

“But I just want the neighborhoods to know that this violence must be stopped. It is way too many of our people are being targeted. And way too many innocent people are being killed,” Jennifer Jone Ellis, the aunt of Kade Lewis and mother of Jenna Ellis, said. “My nephew. He’s gone. No more to return in this world. My daughter laid up in the hospital blaming herself. Why should she blamed herself. It was in my neighborhood. I pay taxes. If you see something say something. This must be stopped.”

Police say that the investigation is ongoing and at the press conference Monday, NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell urged members of the public to provide information by calling (800) 577-TIPS

“This is their neighborhood. This is their community. Right down the block from where the shooting took place is where the mom was there doing hair. Watching that baby in the car. We’re so sorry. Words cannot take away what you are going through. But you’re representative of the best that this city and country has to offer and your children represented that,” Mayor Adams said. “But it’s time this entire city stand with families like these because there’s only one question we have to answer if we don’t get this right. Whose child is next?

Public advocate and Gubernatorial candidate Jumaane Williams, a native son of Brooklyn, also spoke at the express conference to rally against gun violence.

“I want to make sure I was here because I know the media sometimes plays up differences. But I want to make sure New York City sees their leaders standing together on message about the urgency of dealing with gun violence in our community,” Williams said. “He’s not coming back. He will not be back. He’s 12 year old. His mother raised him as best as she could. A student not in the streets doing everything right. Just like Jenna. They paused in the community to eat something — and was shot. It’s unacceptable. By any stretch of the imagination. There has to be consequences accountability for that.”

New Williamsburg Mural highlights life after incarceration

Inside prison, the tallies marked the months spent incarcerated. Now, in Williamsburg, it represents the continued punishment seen after people are released.

On the corner of Havemayer Steet and Metropolitan Ave, onlookers can now see a large brick canvass dressed with one-half of the tallies representing time spent in prison with the other must longer side showing the more time spent “free” but are still in effect serving a life sentence. A conviction record can lead to basic rights and programs being inaccessible to you ranging from getting a job, securing a mortgage, to receiving a new education.

The mural was created by Michael “Zaki” Smith, a formerly incarcerated New Yorker. The mural was in partnership with the R/GA, a corporate design consultancy that works with major companies like CVS, Google and Samsung. The mural is meant to build support for the Clean Slate Act NY – a piece of legislation that would expunge the records and allow formerly incarcerated individuals to fully participate in society as people who have served their time.

The legislation would add an automatic seal to someone’s conviction record after 7 years for a felony and 3 years for a misdemeanor. The new legislation is estimated by Clean Slate NY to help over two million formerly incarcerated New Yorkers. Currently, New York has an application system to seal records that Legal Aid attorney Emma Goodman, who helped write the legislation, says is often too opaque to reach New Yorkers.

“I started a project at the Legal Aid Society called case closed, that helps people to apply to get the record sealed under the current sealing law. And it just isn’t working. It’s too limited. Very few people know about it, you really need a lawyer to do it. And it takes taking people literally years to get their record sealed for like an old nonviolent conviction. And it’s just kind of waste of everyone’s time,” Goodman said in an interview. “Just automatically allowing the process to happen at the state level so that people can apply for jobs and housing and you know, just move forward is really what we need to do to make it accessible and to really change all of the people’s lives that deserve it.”

While it is a criminal justice bill in nature, Zaki sees it as much more than that.

“This is a human justice bill. This is an economic justice bill. This is actually a safety bill. Restricting individuals from housing does not produce safety,” Zaki said in an interview. “It’s an opportunity to shift legacy for New York. It’s an opportunity to end the the economic promise to upstate New York by building all the prisons and opening all the prisons in upstate New York, and creating an economic boom for Upstate New York, while the city becomes the inhabitants. 80 percent of the prison population is black or Latino 75 percent of that prison population came from seven neighborhoods in New York City. This is an opportunity for New York, for the state, to really clean up and demonstrate what criminal justice looks like.”

After being released over 18 years ago, Zaki still feels the punishment from his sentence. Four years into a job, they found out about his criminal conviction and fired him. He was unable to get a life insurance policy. But his story is just a footnote in the larger tale of how New Yorkers have trouble getting life started again after release.

“This would be a great example to show that it’s not just me, it’s millions of me in the world. I want that to be clear. I’m not just an isolated story, right. But my story is not stories that are typically told. This [referring to the mural] is not going to be on the front of the Daily News or the Post. Right now if I committed another crime, oh, that would be splattered all over the place,” Zaki said.

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