For Michael Shaw, Tuesday’s march through Crown Heights denouncing gun violence was personal.
“I grew up in this neighborhood,” he said. “I used to be part of the problem, but I decided to change my life around,” he said, holding a protest sign as he marched up Kingston Avenue.
“Hurting other people is not the answer. Me getting hurt is not the answer. I don’t want my mother to bury me and I don’t want somebody else’s mother to bury them on behalf of me.”
Shaw was one of dozens of people who took to the streets, many wearing orange, calling for an end to the escalating violence happening on Brooklyn streets and across New York City.
The march, which was organized by Save Our Streets, started on Kingston Avenue and went along St Johns Place through Crown Heights. Marchers joined in chants saying “stop shooting, start living” as they carried signs and illustrations, including large paintings of George Floyd.
Shaw said he was there, along with everyone else, to denounce all violence, but specifically gun violence after the large uptick in shootings in recent weeks.
Standing on the corner of St James Place and Troy Ave, one marcher announced on the loud speaker: “I am tired, I am upset, I need y’all to be upset too. We have been on this corner too many times. Enough is enough.”
Seth Fleischman and his daughter Adelina had joined the march in support of their community, to show strength in numbers and do what was right to make sure the neighborhood could live peacefully, equitably and unified, Seth said.
“I love my community and I just want to make sure all our children and citizens are safe,” Seth said. “We’re here to make sure we’re all coming together and showing our unity and solidarity, denouncing violence in all its forms and showing love for one another.”
Adelina added she came out because she, “wanted to support our community and I want no more fighting and no more violence.”
The shooting of 1-year-old Davell Gardner Jr. in Bedford Stuyvesant on Sunday brought a heightened sense of urgency to the march. The baby’s shooting is under investigation and police have released CCTV footage of the suspects and announced a $10,000 reward for information.
Shaw hoped people responded to the marchers’ message, which was simply a call for peace.
“We see all this Black Lives Matter stuff, but who does it matter to? Does it matter to Black people? Because it doesn’t look like it matters to us if we’re the ones shooting and killing each other.”
On Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a Central Brooklyn Violence Prevention plan that will see an increased police presence in the 77th and 79th precincts in Crown Heights and Bed-Stuy.
De Blasio said peace marches would be held and led by community members and clergy and there would be Open Streets resource fairs with youth services and information on housing jobs. He said the Bed-Stuy Anti-Gun Violence Taskforce would have its first meeting next week.