A culture of gang violence

Grim statistics show the impact of gun violence on communities nationwide. Northwell Health pediatrician Greg Gulbranson, MD, a photographer whose work has appeared in The New York Times and other publications, has spent many hours getting to know young men engaged in gang activity and learning about the impact of gun violence on them, their families and their communities.

Most of this time was spent in the South Bronx, home to 14 public housing projects, where gang life, crime, drugs and guns have been a way of life for generations. Each public housing project has its own small gang or a set of larger gangs such as the Crips, Bloods and Latin Kings. Despite a massive police effort to dismantle them, the gangs remain quite active. Sadly, as gang leaders are killed or incarcerated, new leaders quickly fill their place.

In walking with a camera through these neighborhoods or the hallways of the housing projects, Dr. Gulbranson earned the respect and gained the protection of gang members as he tried to document the day-to-day challenges of victims who survived gunshot wounds but are now physically disabled.

Inside one apartment situated between the New York City Housing Authority’s Mitchel and Mill Brook Houses in the Bronx live five men who have all have survived shootings, some on more than one occasion. The youngest of the five was shot in the spine by a rival gang in 2018. Today, he lives in constant pain, and constant fear of being killed. His friends share the same worry.