After an especially bloody weekend in Paterson, including four people shot Sunday night, it was up to Mayor Andre Sayegh to speak to the moment.
“We’ve seen way too many innocent lives lost because of gun violence,” said Sayegh. “Remember Genesis Rincon, a 12-year-old hit by a stray bullet, and died. Nazerah Bugg, a 14-yera-old, again, stray bullet and we lost her as well. And Armani Sexton, a 15-year-old promising basketball player, who might’ve been in the NBA, had his life cut short by a bullet.”
A roll call of tragic deaths, for sure, but as the election season begins to heat up, the specifics of life down these mean streets took a back seat to the broader political concerns of a Senate race, in this case Sen. Bob Menendez’s concern about what impact the Republican president’s Supreme Court nominee would have on New Jersey’s tough gun laws.
“Given that the NRA is actively pushing conceal/carry legislation to override tough gun laws in states like New Jersey, I’m disturbed by Judge Kavanaugh’s reasoning because the prevalence of looser gun laws in other states should have no bearing on the constitutionality of our gun laws here in New Jersey,” proclaimed Menendez.
Menendez and other Democrats, including the area congressman and the governor’s gun control czar, Bill Castner – tried to tie Kavanaugh to Menendez’s Republican opponent, Bob Hugin.
Hugin issued his own statement on Kavanaugh Monday: “The American people expect and deserve a full review of this highly qualified nominee. I am confident the upcoming hearings will provide the appropriate opportunity to resolve any questions and concerns they may have about the nominee.”
Outside, on Market Street, longtime Patersonians hearing about the latest shootings in their city expressed resignation – about the state of violent crime in Paterson and the effectiveness of leaders who might be expected to do something about it.
“We just get ordinances for not buying beer after 10 p.m., which is allegedly supposed to do something, but it’s nothing,” said one resident. “It’s nothing at all.”
Another resident said he has lost what little confidence he may have had in elected officials.
“They’re not doing enough to stop anything, so, you know, just another forgotten city,” he said. “You don’t see anything happening. It just gets worse. No changes, no nothing.”
The mayor, when asked what the take-away might be for the people of Paterson, the senator deferred to the mayor.
“The Paterson police department has actually amped up their efforts as far as stemming the gun violence is concerned, and we’ve seen a significant reduction,” said Sayegh. “Unfortunately, within the last few days, there has been an uptick.”
The holiday and the return of the heat wave was slowing the pace in the city Monday. The focus shifts to Washington Tuesday where Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing begins. Meanwhile, Paterson – and Patersonians – will go back to the daily business of trying to slow violent crime as the campaign for Senate moves on.