Cicely Tyson, and Spike Lee.59 The marches advocated for multiple improvements in the community, including metal detectors, more programs for youth, and getting guns off the streets.60 At the first march, on March 2, nearly 800 students, parents, and residents, together with Bill Cosby, Mayor Dinkins, and local clergy, gathered in front of the school. Mayor Dinkins called for an antiviolence crusade: “I say what we need now is an anti-violence movement. We’ve got to stop killing each other. We’ve got to shield our babies. We’ve got to stand in front of them. We must.”61
A remarkable year-long intervention, led by Councilwoman Priscilla Wooten, Board of Education member Irene Impellizzeri, and Principal Beck, took groups of 150 students on retreats to the Fallsview Hotel, a famous resort in the Catskill Mountains.62 These weekend encounters posed a simple question, “What do we have in common?” Councilwoman Wooten remembered that it was difficult for the students, who came from different ethnic backgrounds, housing projects, gangs, and lifestyles, to answer that question. By the end of the weekend, students were able to recognize that they did have something in common: they were all members of the Thomas Jefferson High School community. The idea that the behavior of each would reflect on all created a new foundation for cooperation.
But it was not easy for Wooten and her team to achieve this goal. It required, on one hand, enforcing discipline, and on the other hand, ensuring students that the adults cared. Wooten adeptly combined the two in managing incidents large and small. For example, she worked with the Fallsview team to organize a prom for the young people, which included an “ice cream sundae room” with 25 different flavors of ice cream. When no one wanted prom night to end, she took them swimming at 2 a.m. By contrast, she dealt swiftly with infractions of the rules. Young police officers, who accompanied the retreats, were always on hand to take those who crossed the line back to the city. On one occasion, she got so angry with the young people that she sent everyone to their rooms. The next day she received flowers from all the youths by way of apology. “I cried,” she told us. “You have to let them see your tears.”
Newsday reported that, a year after the shooting, a new positive attitude existed at Jefferson. Principal Beck attributed most of the positive change in the school to the program of retreats. She described, “[Students at the retreat] sit down and talk about issues that relate to the whole rite of passage concept. They talk about the destructiveness of violence. They use films, videos, and role playing.”63
Another important effort to stem violence was the East New York: United for Safety Project. This program, funded by CDC, brought together a diverse group of organizations, including Victim Services, the New York City Department of Health, the Cypress Hills Development