Nettie Takes Action On Bed Stuy Tragedy

"More needs to be done than just a march."

By Brenda Jeanne Wyche

Two days before the tragic November 12th shooting of 18 year old Khiel Coppin, I listened to a raging youth outside my Bed-Stuy window, positioning himself for a fight, shouting violently, “I’m ready to go, n—uh!  I’m ready!  Let’s get it poppin right now!  I ain’t got nuthin to lose!”  Ironically, that is the same message young Khiel Coppin shouted before he was gunned down by police when he fatefully announced, “I’m prepared to die.”  We all know there is something very wrong here.  It’s as if our youth feel they haven’t got a chance in hell — as if our young men are doomed from the day they are born.  If they could just realize – tomorrow will bring new blessings, new hope and great success — if they would just hold on.  Hold on and stay strong  and find a way to make it in this life.  There are those who can and will help.  At the same time, we have to do more to make our youth aware that we are here for them.  Too many of our young brothers and sisters wander through this world thinking, “I’ve got nothing to lose.”  Such a sad state of being, which can be so easily remedied by just knowing they have someone to turn to for guidance and help.

Nettie Paisley is one who is ready and willing to step up to the plate and has been doing so for decades.  Nettie is a teacher, lecturer, trainer, consultant and instructor in adult/youth education and workforce developer for 29 years.  She is a champion for all people, but more importantly, an angel and a savior for our youth.  Nettie is Chairman of the Life & Ethics Committee for the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture, where she together with the BSEC operates forums that enable young people to connect with adults and elders, as we listen to them express their needs and concerns so we can work together with the youth to come up with help and solutions.  A Master of Reiki, Nettie is a healer who spreads her positive energy on everyone she touches mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically.  Nettie Paisley is a deeply devoted and caring person who works hard to “help create an open and balanced Society that can operate in a healthy fiscal manner while continuing to promote peace and ethics for the greatest good of everyone,” in her words.  She recently implemented a workshop at the Franklin Public Library in Bed Stuy, to address the matter of the Prison Industrial Complex, how it affects our youth and society and to bring the community together to consider solutions to this dilemma.

Nettie was on site pursuant to the tragic shooting of mentally disturbed, 18-year-old Khiel Coppin, who was killed by police in a hail of bullets, 20 of which hit the youth after he, himself shouted out, “I have a gun,” while flashing what turned out to be a hairbrush.  Here’s Nettie’s account:   

“When I came back to the area, Throop and Gates Avenue, guess what I saw.   The neighborhood youths had made a circle of light (for real).   They had the small white candles lit and the candles in the glass in a beautiful circle.   Some photographers took pictures. 

There was one young man that I bonded with named Kwame and he said to me when I returned, see it is just like you wanted.   The circle of light was in the middle of Gates Avenue and was moved to the corner of Throop and Gates in front of the Black owned Sunoco gas station.

The police and the press were a bit bewildered to see so many Black youth conducting themselves in such a quiet and constructive manner.    I must say I was a bit shocked myself.   All of grandma’s manners was showing (excuse me, ma’am, sir, etc.) as they tried to figure out how to conduct this vigil; they had been outside since the death last night.   Some had pasted signs to their hip hop clothes reading Beware Police In The Area.   Pants hanging low, full of bling and trying to give out flyers to cars passing and displaying flyers to folks on the bus, it was a great sight to see.

You could feel the connection the youth were making with the few elders in the crowd.  Whatever elder they could find, you could see how they wanted to be in the vicinity just to feel some sort of safety and security.  Finally, we marched a few blocks down to the only church that opened up for the youth.   A small store front Baptist church.   Don’t get me started about how many huge Black churches we have in that area.   As we marched to the church, the youth chanted what they have heard too many times before–No Justice, No Peace; Whose Streets, etc.

The youth have received a serious wake up call and many kept saying that could have been me, the guy was slaughtered, etc.   We went into the little church and the Black leadership was waiting–ministry and politicians.   The youth were given the opportunity to express themselves and wanted some solutions.   They were wide open and ready to participate, grow and develop.   To their disappointment, the end result was to wait cause these things take time.   The youth were encouraged to vote at which they replied, 2 out of 3 of us males in the projects have a felony.   They were encouraged to join the police force at which they replied, again about having felonies.   They were promised Al Sharpton is coming tomorrow to which they replied we don’t want to march or have publicity.   The issue of unity was agreed to on both sides but then how many times have we danced with unity during one our shootings and then sat down into the amnesia chair when the music was over?

Willing to take off hats and colors and even pray, our youth came in peace to await some vital answers.   They left feeling empty with no real offers of meeting to develop meaningful strategies.   Papers were passed around for folks to leave their phone and email info.   We shall see and I really do hope the outreach is meaningful.

I felt helpless until I realized I had a great deal to offer by just sitting, talking and comforting.   Young people like to hear about the past especially if it is something that empowers, inspires and opens the consciousness.  There are those like me who feel that more needs to be done than just a march.   So, if you have a space available in a church or community center near those projects on Gates Avenue, let me know and I am more than willing to work with the youth.   It is absolutely my intention to find a way.

There is supposed to be a rally on Sunday, no marching for me.   I really hope that we can reach out to the youth before then because Sunday may be to late for us to reach on the level that we did today.

This is of great importance to me and most other things are being put on a back burner.   Indeed, our children are our future and it was an honor to there with them.”

Pass the word — tomorrow night — Stuyvesant Gardens, NYC Housing Authority, 214 Stuyvesant Avenue (bet. Gates and Monroe). 
Thursday, November 15, 2007  6:30 pm
FREE —  Solutions Oriented Event
Come and discuss strategies for healing and solutions for growth and development after the shooting of one of our beloved children on Monday evening.

Please bring any relevant resources that you would like to share with the community relative to employment opportunities, health, education, information on rights for ex-prisoners, voting, meaningful community organizations and training programs, etc.   You can leave your info in the office if you need to drop off before 6:00 pm.   You can leave your info with Vicki, the Community Coordinator.   I want to thank PS 44 and the Stuyvesant Gardens complex for making copies at the last minute.

Press and picture taking is not invited!

Presented by the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture Life and Ethics Committee
Let’s talk soon!

Send the highest blessings, prayers, wishes, etc. to the youth.

Empowerment through beauty and peace
Southern Comforts

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