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Lt. Governor of New York State, Brian A. Benjamin addresses the symposium on Gun Violence & Safety

December 20th, 2021 (New York, NY) -- Last week, policymakers, business owners, academics, law enforcement officials, and members of the South Asian community came together to discuss tangible solutions to the epidemic of armed robberies, gun violence, and burglaries in New York. The state’s Senator, Jeremy Cooney, brought a sense of urgency to the matter when he addressed the online audience and explained “this is bigger than COVID-19 pandemic.”

Gun Violence Symposium

Clockwise: Mr. Shajahan Merchant, Founder & CEO; Melinda Katz, District Attorney for Queens NY, Mr. Brian A. Benjamin, Lt. Governor of New York State; Dr. Hari Shukla, Pediatrician & Philanthropist; Honorable NYS Senator Jeremy Cooney; Dr. Sumita Sengupta, Author & Educator.

New York Lt. Governor, Brian A. Benjamin, likened the current situation in New York to a public health crisis. Lt. Governor Benjamin explained that earlier this year, New York declared a first-in-the-nation state of disaster emergency, it is a part of a comprehensive strategy to address the issue. Lt. Governor added, “There is nothing more tragic than losing a member of your family or community to senseless act of (gun) violence.”

Dr. Hari Shukla, a pediatrician, President of South Asians of New York Inc, a registered not-for-profit, reminded the audience of why the epidemic of violence is so unprecedented. He explained that “Gun Violence kills more children and teens than cancer, pneumonia, influenza, asthma, HIV/AIDs, and opioids combined.”

While much is being done to address the challenge of gun violence, this issue continues to pose a threat for small business owners, retail stores, bodegas, quick service restaurants, franchisees, convenience stores, gas stations, jewellery stores, schools, universities, ride-sharing services, as well as high-end boutiques, and even innocent bystanders

The District Attorney of Queens, Melinda Katz, explained, “No community should be terrorized by violent gang members who demonstrate complete lack of regard for human life.”

One expert, Mr. Shajahan Merchant, founder of, discussed the use of tangible, cutting-edge technologies. “Self-driving cars were not even a possibility a few years ago. Technologies like artificial intelligence have the promise and potential to improve safety. works with existing cameras to detect operational and safety risks including weapon detection, armed robberies, and more in real-time. Once the risk thresholds are breached, it sends out a notification so that you can mobilize emergency response quickly, saving valuable time.”

When it came time for the symposium’s participants to discuss solutions, Mr. Roger Sengupta, community leader & founder of Park Place Group, appealed directly to the Governor. “We have a mandate for climate change with goals and finite timeline. Let us embrace a similar approach for [this issue] and use technology.”


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