Who is Shyism Bryant? Biden quips about 'guns' after squeezing community leader's arms
Shyism Bryant's biceps really impressed Biden enough that he gave them a squeeze and the Internet was not pleased
President Joe Biden made an offhand quip about guns, but not the kind that's plaguing America's streets on February 3, 2022. While on a visit to New York City, Biden met with local leaders from Community Capacity Development at Jacob Blackwell School. At the school, he was introduced to Shyism Bryant, whose biceps really impressed Biden. "I'll tell you what man, this man's got some guns," he quipped, after gripping Bryant's arm.
The president flew to New York City to meet with Mayor Eric Adams, the NYPD, and other community leaders over the city's massive gun violence crisis. A day before Biden's visit, promising rapper Tdott Woo was shot and killed in Brooklyn. On January 25, two cops were shot and killed at an ambush in Harlem by Lashawn McNeil. To combat the crisis, Adams has roped in Keechant Sewell as the NYPD's first female commissioner, but so far little progress has been made.
Many people believe the lack of progress is due to Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, who like many other liberal DA's in the US has decided to take a soft-on-crime approach. On the ground too, there are several efforts being made, led by Bryant and the Community Capacity Development team.
Who is Shyism Bryant?
Also known as 'Dap', Bryant currently works as a violence interruption training specialist, whose job is to ensure young people have access to the things they need - food, shelter, water - rather than guns. "We give them things to look forward to so they have something to lose. because when you don’t have anything to lose, it’s easy for you to transgress," he explained. He's also got quite a reputation, as a former convict who also led one of the nation's largest and most dangerous housing projects.
Bryant spent 13 years in state prison after being convicted of drug dealing and knows the impact of violence firsthand. He's been shot and spent enough time in jail to know the risks of turning to crime. He now spends his time interrupting disputes, especially those where guns are involved and reminding those involved of what they stand to lose. "When you give a person a chance to save face and you give them time to calm down, nine times out of 10, they really don't want to commit the violent act," he once told NBC New York.
Bryant was one of the many people instrumental in ensuring that in February 2017, 696 Build Queensbridge marked one year without any shootings. The public housing project, made famous by rapper Nas, has now become a template for how community intervention can turn things around. The way he see's it, "You don’t have to have a gun. You can fight a war with an email."
That success is what led Bryant to shake hands with the president, when Biden visited the Jacob Blackwell School on February 3, 2022. Pulling Bryant in for a hug, Biden quipped "I'll tell you what man, this man's got some guns." When the founder of the project responded "no more guns", the president appeared to sense his error, and replied, "I mean these guns," and acknowledged his "poor choice of words."