Shawanna E. Vaughn, the founder of the nonprofit Silent Cry, is a first-time candidate for the New York State Assembly's 70th District (Harlem). Following a recent act of gun violence, she discusses the importance of adequate mental health care as a preemptive step to preventing future instances of violence.

Watch Shawanna Vaughn talk about the importance of mental health care and holistic approaches to healing:

Another Act of Gun Violence Erupts After Juneteenth Weekend in Harlem

On Monday, June 20, 2022, there was another shooting in Harlem. One young man was killed by gunfire and eight others were wounded. Almost weekly, on the evening news, we see blood on the ground and Police protecting the crime scene with barricade tape and bullet markers. Neighbors watch as ambulances leave for local hospitals and the wounded are officially identified.  Once again the shooters are unknown

Juneteenth is a new holiday in direct response to oppression, deceit, and slavery. We thought we did not have to run anymore. Obviously, as a city, we are doing something wrong.  Millions, upon millions of dollars, have been laid out to help stabilize communities and change the trajectory of hate and hostility but the efforts have failed.  Cure Violence should be revamped or defunded so we are able to put quality mental health services in our community with a social service component and entrepreneurial programs in our community centers open. Reallocating those funds to these initiatives would be a win for our children and the toll of carnage in our streets.

Turning Our Attention to Mental Health Care

In the past, we launched campaigns, bought T-Shirts, brought in celebrities, and comforted The attention seekers of our community and not the children and young people who need support gun violence is perpetrated by poverty, and systemic and economic racism. The lack of stable housing, the mental anguish, and the dilapidation of the mind that our children suffer. From the imploding violence of public housing and low-income buildings without a quality of life and wrap-around services.  Nothing has made an impact on stabilizing our community.  We need a different strategy, drastic change, and solid planning.  Let’s talk about mental health, non-traditional ways of holistic healing, entrepreneur skills life coping skills. Conflict resolution How about we work on programs that teach individuals how to love themselves. Therefore, love thy neighbor and be a part of your community instead of a problem, but these things are because they have a lack.  There's an African proverb that says if you don't give the children love, they'll burn down the village to feel the warmth. I think we are definitely understanding this proverb right now. We want an open dialogue on gun violence and gun control. Innocent, nonviolent neighbors gathered to socialize but ended the evening running, in the back of an ambulance or dead.  Why?

How do we reach the unreachable, before the shooting?  How can someone shoot 9 people without anyone seeing anything?   Maybe some of the money used for T-Shirts and hot dogs should be used as funding trauma buses that actually are running 24 hours a day to create safe havens for these children instead of buildings that are closed from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. at safe Havens. Something has to change.  We cannot continue watching the aftermath on the evening news. The church is closed but it should also be open and used other than the house. The funerals for the carnage. Faith without works is dead. Harlem clergy open up these churches and safe Havens for these children and give them places to go in something to empower themselves. Teaching etiquette for young men, job skill programs reading, educating our children ourselves, and creating homeschools in churches. Using these multi-centers in the buildings as rec rooms and community centers during the week to engage those who have nowhere to go. It's not the entire solution but it's a start.

I want to mention mental health concerns.  Attention must be paid to people with mental illness.  Although every shooting cannot be attributed to mental illness, surely something is wrong when one person makes a decision to kill as many people as possible and run away.  He didn’t shoot himself he ran. They are either mentally deprived,  angry or maybe it is gang-related. And most of the time all three.

As a mother of a black son and daughter, I am hyper-vigilant whenever they go outside due to the fact that gun violence is ever-present and therapeutic solutions are never on the table. We want to talk about AMI and low-income housing and we want to talk about homeless and mental health and we want to have press conferences for gun violence to see who's more fashionable when everyone is dressed up for the circus in a clown show bidding for money for no morality. For the sake of the bag in the come up. We don't need data because it won't say that cure violence doesn't work because a German man created something for black people to call us a disease.  The world will agree because we Polaris all these Black to be violent and damaged. We need non-traditional ways of therapy not millions for organizations that don't meet the standard of the problems

My two children were taught to honor and respect life outdoors without fear of death.  As politicians and parents, we should do everything possible to hold officials accountable for our living conditions.  It is important that we get involved in eliminating crime and socially upgrading our communities.  As a community,  we need to own this problem.  Everyone in this city must contribute to making life better in this neighborhood. If you attended the event and feel you need counseling please reach out to me or the authorities.  Trauma is real and someone will be available to help.

Community Healing and a Call To Action

My heartfelt sympathy goes out to the family of Darius Lee. Twenty-one years old, doing all the right things.  I pray for recovery for the eight remaining victims as well.

I am available if you want an open discussion on the terror of today.  Your input and ideas are welcome.  You can email call 718 200-2720.  Together we can make a change. Please contact the authorities if you are aware of anyone’s involvement in these shootings.

June 24, 2022, Friday 2 pm-5 pm there will be a service held for victims of violence. Location 135th Street and 5th Avenue at the basketball court on the corner. The Women’s Community Justice Association (WCJA), Breaking The Chains of Your Mind, clergy, community resources, and a therapist will be on hand. We need healing now.

Shawanna E. Vaughn, the founder of the nonprofit Silent Cry, is running to represent the 70th District (Harlem) in New York's State Assembly. Vote for your New York state and local representatives in the primary elections on June 28, 2022. For more information, visit

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