THE BRONX—Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday he was unaware of the problems plaguing a Harlem anti-violence site that uses ex-gang members to stop shootings but that he stood behind the model the city has chosen to address stubborn gun violence in the city's toughest neighborhoods.
Harlem SNUG is one of 14 sites that the mayor and the City Council dedicated $13 million to last year as part of de Blasio's Gun Crisis Violence Management system. The system was based on the Cure Violence model, created by criminologist David Kennedy and based on the idea that gun violence could be treated like a disease.
"I’d say the broad concept is getting intervention I believe in very fundamentally," de Blasio said at an event in The Bronx. "I’m a big fan of David Kennedy and the concept he created about how you stop gang violence before it proliferates; how you involve community members, family members, clergy in that effort."
But the central Harlem site, run by the Mission Society, is under investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney's office following the shooting of a former employee.
There were also allegations that active gang members were still involved in the program and possibly dealing drugs and recruiting new gang members.
On Monday, DNAinfo New York reported that the supervisor of one of the expansion sites in The Bronx had been arrested for domestic violence for brutally beating and threatening to kill his former girlfriend, a fellow employee.
DNAinfo is withholding the name of the defendant in the domestic violence case to protect the identity of the victim. The defendant is facing charges of assault and harassment and has been released without bail.
The victim claims that Mission Society was aware of the abuse and did nothing.
In fact, she says Mission made her work in the same building as her abuser despite having a restraining order against him, charges the Mission Society has denied.
The victim says her abuser was promoted to supervisor of one of the expansion sites under de Blasio's program even after her beating.
Mission Society is investigating the allegations against the supervisor accused of domestic violence, an ex-gang member who is still employed with the non-profit.
The victim was fired by Mission Society, along with several other employees who said they were in fear of their lives because of alleged threats made against Harlem SNUG following the shooting of the former employee.
The Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice has said it is involved to make sure the Department of Health and the Mission Society are following proper hiring and employee management protocols.
Elsie McCabe Thompson, former head of the Museum for African Art and wife of former comptroller and mayoral candidate Bill Thompson, has head the Mission Society for the last year.
The trouble with the program comes as the city is experiencing an increase in shootings, including a bloody weekend where three people were killed and 23 wounded in 21 shooting incidents, The Daily News reported.
De Blasio said the model works.
"We certainly have had some real success with former gang members getting their life together and then being agents of peace," said the mayor.