Tony Herbert Action Hero or Ambulance Chaser -- You Decide

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In a shameful attempt to tarnish the name of a sincere and hard working community activist who is addressing grave concerns in Central Brooklyn and surrounding communities by helping the underserved and ignored to have a voice against gun violence, health concerns and the economic woes that are crippling such communities, a handful of critics are labeling Tony Herbert as an “ambulance chaser.”  In the interest of community welfare, let’s analyze the facts:

Tony Herbert has taken on a mission to improve the quality of life for the underserved in Central Brooklyn and the surrounding communities, and that’s not just talk.

Herbert has dedicated his life to an ongoing and relentless mission to stop gun murders and maiming of our children, youth, mothers and other innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire.  He organizes rallies and events and engages the media in a relentless effort to put an end to gun violence.  Not asking for a dime for his own pockets, Tony puts together annual and monthly business seminars, health and job fairs and youth initiatives, in order to tackle important issues, such as business ownership, employment, economic development, health and wellness, community re-investment, fair housing and education.  

In 1996, Herbert co-founded The Professionals Network Organization to provide opportunities for young minorities, while increasing economic growth, and institute an Ownership Society for underserved communities.  To date, TPNO has access to 10,000 members and allies.

Tony Herbert’s proven dedication to the safety and betterment of our youth and economic empowerment for underserved communities is evidenced by the following abbreviated timeline:

In January 4, 2007, Tony Herbert with partners, founded the Central Brooklyn Youth Council, whose mission, the first of its kind to give youth from the Brooklyn community, insight on how non-partisan government works in order to educate and motivate them with regards to the importance of the voting process.  Youth from all ethnic backgrounds who participate in the Central Brooklyn Youth Council are engaged in positive activities, dialogue and programs designed to shape them into responsible citizens.  The objective is to form a division of the CBYC where youth will actually assume governmental titles and responsibilities within the CBYC, to learn by the experience of actually taking part in a government body.

Issues such as Teen Pregnancy, Gang Violence and STDs are addressed in ongoing dialogue amongst the youth. Professional organizations contribute their members’ time as volunteer mentors.

Youth between the ages of 8 and 16, parents, city officials, clergy, community youth organizations, various youth councils, youth oriented organizations and relevant entities are encouraged to join the CBYC and work together in the initiative.

In August 7th 2007, Tony brought together more than 200 residents to Bedford Stuyvesant's Von King Park for an "Increase The Peace" rally during one of the National Night Out Against Crime events hosted by The 79th Precinct Community Council in response to the execution-style murders of a young woman, Ofemi Hightower and two young men, Terrance Aeriel and Deshawn Harvey, the three teenagers were lined up against the wall of a Newark school car park and shot in their heads. Brooklyn Community Advocate, Tony Herbert, along with Kim Best Simms, President of the 79th Precinct Community Council, Ryan Mack, Founder of All About Business (AAB) Financial Literacy Organization for Youth, Lance Ogiste, Sr. Counsel to Kings County DA Charles Hynes, Dr. Owen Brown, MECC Bedford Stuyvesant Safety Task Force, Taharka Robinson, Founder of The Central Brooklyn Anti-Violence Coalition, Darnell Canada, Founder of Project Re B.U.I.L.D came together to form the rally, demanding solutions to the problems resulting in gang violence and the murders of our children and young people. During the rally, a moment of silence and prayer was implemented in honor of the young people who were shot and killed in Newark and youth, their families and loved ones all over the nation who have suffered and died as a result of violence.  At that time Tony stated, "We will not stand by and allow our children to continue to fall victim to these senseless murders," stated Tony Herbert , community advocate and member of the Bed Stuy Safety Task Force. “We are in a crisis, and if the ‘village’ does not begin to come together to save our youth, the violence that has befallen our community will only get worse, thus creating a modern day form of genocide."

In September, 2007, Tony brought together a host of organizations including Congressman Ed Towns, NYS Assemblyman Darryl Towns, Citiworks, Inc, The Phenomenal Women Group and AMAG Awareness Magazine, to present the first ever, Central Brooklyn Youth Summit and Information Expo at Long Island University's - Brooklyn Campus. The Professionals Network Organization, The Ft. Greene Volunteers, Inc., The Phenomenal Women Group, AMAG (Awareness Magazine), Community Advocate, Nettie Paisley, NY CITIWORKS, Tomorrows Leaders, Inc., Lesedi Film Center,, and other organizations joined together with the NYPD for the Youth Summit, which was hosted by WRKS' Barry Mason, WBLS' Dr. Bob Lee, Ralph McDaniels of WQHT/Video Music Box and Ray DeJon also from Video Music Box.  The CBYS was a forum for young people to learn where they can go for help, services, support, recreational, educational and vocational programs and access to resources that will allow them to understand that they have plenty of choices available to them as an alternative to gang membership and other detrimental activities. The event is sponsored largely by the NYPD and New York Life Insurance Company. Organizers of the Central Brooklyn Youth Summit and Expo at LIU welcome additional sponsors.  to provide youth with information on services that are available to them to get them involved in constructive activities as a way to divert them from gang related engagement, moreover, in Herbert’s words, to “employ, engage, mentor or educate them to keep them busy, pre-occupied and out of harms way, while encouraging them to become productive citizens.”

March, 2008, in the wake of the death of 27 year old mother of three, Nancy Williams, killed in a barrage of gunfire that broke out  at a 4th of July street party in Brooklyn, one of many shootings of innocent bystanders, many being children, youth and women, plaguing Central Brooklyn, Tony Herbert organized and brought together at least 50 biker groups, SUV, truck and auto  clubs to join the crusade and represent at young Ms. White's candlelight vigil, which was organized by Community Activist, Tony Herbert, Bruce Green and Taharka Robinson of the Central Brooklyn Anti Violence Coalition, Geoffrey Davis of The James E. Davis Stop Violence Foundation, The MW Enoch Masonic Grand Lodge, and The 81st Precinct & Brooklyn North NYPD. Congressman Ed. Towns and Councilman Charles Barron were among the many leaders who took the podium to urge residents to come together and help stop the senseless gun activity. Jackie Rowe Adams, who lost two sons in separate incidents to gun violence and now runs Harlem Mothers SAVE, a group of women whose purpose is to stop gun violence, sadly, each having at least one child killed by guns, pleaded to the young people at the vigil to stop the gun violence.

March 19th, 2008, in front of the home of 13-year-old Marquis Perez, who was shot and killed while he and a friend were allegedly playing with a loaded gun, Herbert called on all State, City and Federally funded youth organizations to come out from behind their desks and get into the streets to encourage the kids to come in and take advantage of resources available to them. “If the drug dealers and street thugs can stand on the corner in the rain, so can you. We have got to get out on that same corner and pass out the literature to let our young people know that they have choices.”

Herbert has been working with local City and State lawmakers to pen a Gang Free Zone Act which would demand gang-free zones, similar to the drug free zones, created in the 1980's, which makes it a felony to jump, recruit, or threaten a youth to become a member of a gang. The zone encompasses public schools and the distance between the school and public transportation within a 1⁄2 mile radius of the school, City and State recreation, community centers and public housing.

On April Fool's Day 2008,
when 2-year-old Serenity Balinger was shot by her father who was said
to be cleaning his gun when he accidentally shot the toddler, Herbert
was there and at that time called on the community, parents and
community leaders stating, “We need to get these guns off the streets
and out of our communities.”

April, 2008
, Community Advocate Tony Herbert, Community Activist Jeffery Davis and family members of gun violence victims call on upon The Mayor and City Council to identify and secure funds to pay New York City Police Officers a decent wage.

Tony Herbert gets results:

In August 2008, as a result of Tony Herbert and his allies' relentless cries for the community to come forward and tell what they know about any shootings, the age-old code of silence was finally broken, resulting in the arrests of the youths who shot 9-year-old Shamsawan Kelly in the head by a stray bullet while he was playing on a Crown Heights sidewalk in front of his home. Based on information provided by countless witnesses, police soon arrested baby faced 18-year-old Louis Gonzalez who lives two stories up, in the same building as Shamsawan. They also took into custody Jonathan Frazier who is also 18 and Franklin Gillespie, 17. Police attributed the arrests to the community, who they say swiftly came forward with information that led them straight to the suspects.

Community residents take comfort in actually seeing Herbert and his allies in the Urban Community Council, other community based organizations and some political leaders taking action, joining forces with NYPD and working together, to get violent criminals off the streets and working towards creating a safer community.  Knowing that there are people fighting for them gives residents strength and confidence to come forward and tell what they know about criminal activities.

That’s just a little bit of what Tony Herbert has been doing while a handful of critics sit on the phone, badmouthing him and calling him an “ambulance chaser.”

Let me define the term, “ambulance chaser” for those who obviously do not comprehend, hence, use it in erroneous context against someone undeserving of such a title:

am·bu·lance chas·er [chey-ser] - An unethical attorney who solicits business at the scenes of accidents or in hospitals, in exchange for a percentage of the damages that will be recovered in the case.

The term, “live action hero” has yet to be defined.  But what better definition could one find for “live action hero” than “an individual who has come forward in a relentless, self-sacrificing fight on behalf of the downtrodden, to ensure the safety of our children and families?”  I’m sure that describes Tony Herbert much more appropriately than the latter.

Community Actionary and Results Getter, Tony Herbert is not on any government payroll and does not get paid one thin dime for the actions stated above.  The impact his work is having on the community is priceless.  Yet, in the mist of good will, there are still haters out there, creating negativity, accusing Herbert of “ambulance chasing,” and the one that amuses me most are the mindreaders who charge, “Tony thinks he’s cute.”  Well, here’s a newsflash – at times I think I’m cute.  There are a whole lot of cute people out here who think they're cute.  Are we all enemies of the jealous and insecure?

On November 3rd, 2008, Herbert has organized the Central Brooklyn Peace Summit, now named the Urban Community Council and together they will implement the Save Our Family & Community Peace Rally, which is scheduled to be held on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall.  Tony has invited 10 year old shooting victim, Denia Kearse, who was injured by random gun fire at a Brooklyn block party, to serve as a guest speaker to address the issue of gun violence and to help save the lives of her peers. Denia will be joined by the family members of other gun violence victims together with community leaders, clergy, community organizations and residents of Brooklyn to denounce any and all violence against women , and children.

I wonder if the critics are more concerned with who’s "chasing ambulances" than saving the lives of our children.  On November 3rd, we shall see.

And to all those naysayers who sit around, bad mouthing community leaders and residents who are trying to make a positive contribution; to the haters and busybodies who spend their time dreaming up ulterior motives in an attempt to throw in a wrench, let’s see your timeline.

Jeanne Wyche is Managing Editor for Harlem Business News. If you have
a solution, contact [email protected] .  Maybe we’ll talk.

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