Peace Over Violence March through Crown Heights, 9/17/15
Peace Over Violence March through Crown Heights, 9/17/15

Thursday early evening, close to 300 local residents, elected officials, clergy members and representatives from at least 20 different anti-violence community groups gathered at the corner of Eastern Parkway and Kingston Avenue to participate in a peace march and prayer walk.

The event, called “Peace Over Violence March,” was organized by City Councilmember Laurie Cumbo, following the shooting of Clinton Hill resident Carey Gabay at a pre-dawn celebration of the West Indian Day Parade in Crown Heights.

Cumbo organized the peace march a few days after the shooting, and Gabay died of his injuries on Wednesday, ten days after the parade. Although, unfortunately, violence at the annual parade had long ago become routine and (dare we say) almost expected, what made Gabey’s death so poignant was his public visibility: He was an aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

No longer was the victim an anonymous “black kid from the hood.” This time, it was an public figure who fell victim to the parade’s wonton violence. So, community leaders decided to take to the streets of Crown Heights for, yet, another march.

But how would this march be different than any other anti-violent march, after which time, the violence continued?

Cumbo offered an answer, just before the start of the march:

“Anytime there’s a loss of life, the first call of order is healing. And together the community has to send a message that this level of violence is not condoned. It’s not tolerated. It’s unacceptable.

“Unfortunately, through this tragedy and because of Mr. Gabay’s credentials, it has brought national attention to this, and I find that right now, the conversation is much different. What’s different this time is the level of meetings that have taken place before this march surrounding this issue… We’re now looking to organize a meeting with Borough President Eric Adams, as well as the commissioners across the city’s departments to make sure that all of them that can have an impact on gun violence absolutely have.

“We’re also going to be calling on our state representatives to increase S.N.U.G. funding, which is funding towards the anti-gun violence initiative. Right now, the entire the entire state is funded at a paltry $2.9 million. When it was originally funded in 2009, it was at $4 million. That’s still not enough. But we’re going to be advocating and having serious discussions about increasing that anti-gun violence initiative funding.

“The other thing that I’m advocating for, and I believe we’re going to have some traction, is I’m meeting with the mayor’s office in developing a citywide anti-gun violence office to have these important meetings; to do programs like “Occupy the Blocks,” to have people get the mental health services that they need; to have people come in and do mediation. Because right now, it’s very piece-meal.

This is not about politics today. This is about the community; this about prayer and this is about mourning. And we have to come together at this time.”

Robert David, 20: What moves me to be here today is the fact that I’m a young black American child. I want to encourage other black American children to not be in the street, go home early. Your life is better than picking up a gun. Hopefully the youth will see me and want to make a change. They’ll feel that they have a brighter future.
Crystal Floyd, retired: I live in this neighborhood. And it just doesn’t make any sense to me that people have to resort to killing each other to resolve problems. I’ve worked with adolescents for over 35 years—my whole purpose was to graduate them from high school and get them to college. And it just bothers me that young people are dying the way they are dying.
(l to r) Lydia Doublestein, Anna Shenk, Trinity Shenk, Thomas Shenk and Matt Shenk; have lived in the neighborhood 11 years: Says Anna Shenk: As a family, we are committed to a community that is at peace, and this is just one way we can come out and raise our voices for peace. We want our kids to know it’s important to stand up for non-violence. This is their neighborhood; they’ve grown up here. And they want all of their friends to live in a safe place, and so they like being able to remain their voices in a small way. This is the third time they have done this.
Chris Wise, 23, co-founder of Black Market Wares. We’re a youth empowerment agency based out of Ebbets Field Apartments. We seek to expose our youth to new horizons via arts, sports and entrepreneurship. We’re out here because this is us! We’re peace activists on the block. The fact that the man was shot outside of my apartment complex. The fact that this is what we do as an organization. There was once a movement at one time; there was legitimate activism that happened in this country. But we don’t see the activism that happens now, day-to-day, particularly among black youth. So to walk over here and show solidarity and remembrance… part of it is because we just want to live, but another part of it is that this is an opportunity to let the world see us, hear us and know that change is brewing.

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  1. Ms Cumbo is a master denier. She blames guns for the killings at Jouvert and the West Indian parade instead of the JOvert and the parade itself. People from all over the country aren’t coming to the parade to beat up and murder people. It’s islands people from right here. The West Indian Parade is out of control because Ms Cumbo and other leaders have handcuffed the police and told them to look the other way while the streets run riot with people drunk and smashed out of there minds. People don’t get stabbed and shot at any other parade just this one. Ms Cumbo could save lives if she got serious on making the WestIndian Day parade safe with proper NYPD policing.

    1. We as black people need to work on the must inportnt thing that matter in life is life ,we are killing each other for what .Black live matter that go for us too

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