More than 100 people made their way through Crown Heights on Tuesday afternoon to call for an end to gun violence amid a spike in shootings across the borough and the city.
The marchers — made up of anti-violence groups, elected officials, clergy members, and local residents — called for the proper allocation of resources into violence-plagued communities, and a crackdown on the “iron pipeline,” which sees guns pour into the city from other states where they are bought legally.
“Every single gun was legal at some point, so stop saying this is about illegal guns. It’s about this country’s demonic obsession with guns,” Public Advocate Juumane Williams said at the corner of Utica Avenue and St. Johns Place. “We need the federal government to step in and stop the flow of guns into these communities.”
The march made several stops throughout the neighborhood where lives had been lost. Williams spoke near where a 16-year-old was shot and killed in May.
The march came on the heels of a particularly heavy weekend in which a one-year-old child was killed by stray bullets in Bedford-Stuyvesant, a 12-year-old sitting on his stoop in Crown Heights was shot in the leg, and five people were shot in a drive-by shooting flurry in Canarsie. Just hours after the demonstration, multiple gunmen opened fire near the corner of President Street and Franklin Avenue, killing one and injuring five not far from where marchers called for change.
Lawmakers at the event called for concrete action from those with executive power, and for resources to be allocated to non-law enforcement agencies to aid in the fight against gun violence.
“We have to invest in our communities,” said Crown Heights State Senator Zellnor Myrie. “Gun violence is not an accident, it is not happenstance, it isn’t just happening. There are deliberate choices made to not invest in our communities.”
Myrie blasted Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and urged them to invest in communities dealing with gun violence immediately.
“Don’t paint Black Lives Matter on the street if you will not invest in the communities,” he said, referring to the large murals installed on city streets in recent weeks. “Paint on the street is nice, but it is not enough.”
Local leaders called out those perpetrating the violence against their neighbors, those who stay silent when they have crucial information, and the police for acting slowly in making arrests.
Some were more blunt.
“I understand that you are angry, but we cannot take this pain and our violence out on ourselves and our brothers and sisters,” said Assemblywoman Diana Richardson. “But if you feel you can’t clean up, turn the damn gun on yourself — but stop killing our community residents!”