Man Up Inc! Under Attack
Man Up Inc! was born from heartache. Almost 10 years ago, 8-year-old Dashawn Hill was walking down the street with his mother when they got caught in a gun battle. Dashawn was struck and killed. In response, A. T. Mitchell brainstormed with others to confront violence in the East New York and Brownsville communities. Man Up Inc! began in the streets and has grown to service local communities with a School/Neighborhood Watch, after school and summer programs, and a variety of anti-violence initiatives.
Despite its successes, Man Up Inc! has attracted scrutiny. The NY Daily News alleges there is something wrong with the relationship between Man Up Inc! and the elected representatives of the districts they serve: Councilman Charles Barron and Assemblywoman Inez Barron. According to the DN, there may be a connection between A.T. Mitchell’s political support for the Barrons and city and state member item dollars the group has received.
“I am very proud to fund Man Up,” said Councilman Barron. “It is one of the best youth organizations probably in the state. They get young people jobs. They have after school programs, summer camp. They patrol our communities to bring crime down. They teach our youth the responsibilities of manhood. I am proud of that.”
Man Up Inc! specializes in conflict resolution on the streets via Cease Fire ENY BK, under Operation SNUG. Mitchell is a Federally Certified Gang Specialist and a Certified First Responder.
Man Up Inc! has targeted the most violent section of the 75th Precinct. Its nine volunteers patrol a catchment area where 60% of the shootings took place last year on the streets between Hinsdale, Sutter, Pennsylvania, and Sutter. “We are now at 43 days with no shootings and killing within our target area,” said Mitchell.
“We have a lot of integrity; our agency has always been approved by the attorney general’s office. Our agency has cleared every hurdle that you can imagine. We have gone through the city’s contract procurement process,” Mitchell said. “We have passed every review that we have ever received from DYCD to the Dept. of Juvenile Justice.” Funding for community programs was tightened after Speaker Quinn’s slush fund ghost organizations were discovered.
Man Up Inc! has a Safe Corridor after school street patrol around IS 166, PS 328, and Thomas Jefferson H.S. in East New York and IS 275 in Brownsville. The organization runs a cultural after school program at two locations: 530 Sutter Ave. in ENY and the Noble Drew Ali Community Center in Brownsville. The Sutter Ave. location is a drop-in center for teens ages 13-21 from 6:30 – 9pm. Mitchell said it is a safe space for tens to do homework, participate in group counseling and mentoring. During the summer, Man Up conducts Camp Harambe for girls and boys ages 5 -13. During the school year, they mentor the most troubled boys in PS 328 and IS 166 and have been so successful, only one of their charges was mandated to attend summer school. Every year, Man Up Inc! hosts basketball tournaments to keep area youth busy and out of trouble. There is always a waiting list for Man Up’s services.Year round, Man Up Inc! is visible in the streets. Their anti-violence initiative has boots on the ground weekdays 4- midnight and weekends 5pm to 1am. “We manage caseloads of high risk individuals,” said Mitchell. “We get them to take off the bandanas and put on hard hats.”
Regarding A.T. Mitchell’s role in Hip Hop Stand Up and Vote, Barron said, “They register young people to vote. They worked on my campaign, my wife’s campaign, Barack Obama’s campaign, and Virginia Field’s mayoral campaign.”
Barron is not deterred by the scrutiny. “This gives us a chance to put the spotlight on Man Up Inc! This gives us a chance to put the spotlight on Man Up Inc! This is coming at a time when my wife voted against the state budget and I voted against the city budget taking on the powers that be,” he said. “I find that to be very timely.”
“This is a smear campaign, unfortunately, I think to try to ruin Charles’ reputation as well as Inez’s. Unfortunately, they threw Man Up Inc! under the bus with them,” said Mitchell. “They have no idea all the things this agency has done and will continue to do despite all odds.”
Originally published in Our Time Press, July 7, 2011
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