‘Bullets know no borders’: Peace march from Washington Heights to Bronx sounds call to stop gun violence together

Bronx and Manhattan residents joined with a slew of elected officials Sunday to march through the borough in the hope of inspiring peace.

Dubbed “Walk the Bridge for Peace” and organized by Assembly member Yudelka Tapia, the large group strode from 204th Street and Post Avenue — not far from where a police involved shooting occurred mere hours before — to the Hall of Fame Terrace and University Avenue where they arrived just before 3:30 p.m.

“We’re fighting for unity among all of us because we know the difficulties and we have to take ownership of our neighborhoods, and this is what we’re gonna declare today,” Tapia said. 

The march continued toward Hall of Fame Terrace and University Avenue. Photo by Dean Moses

Speakers stood on a stage surrounded by community members clutching banners and signs who say they are sick and tired of violence in their neighborhood. It was through the onslaught of crime these communities have faced that political leaders are calling for more to be done to stop the flow of guns into the city.

Congress Member Adriano Espaillat described Washington Heights and Highbridge as sister neighborhoods with common interests that are merely a bridge apart; however, they are both also plagued with gun violence. 

“The Department of Transportation considers that bridge that we crossed today, a roadway.  So, we’re connected by those streets, those arteries and we share our culture, we share a way of living, we share aspirations for our kids and our communities. But violence is stopping that. And the common denominator in violence is a weapon–it’s a gun! Far too many people that shoot each other know each other,” Espaillat said.  

Representative Adriano Espaillat. Photo by Dean Moses
Advocates called for peace as violence plagues communities in the Bronx and Washington Heights. Photo by Dean Moses

The police-involved shooting earlier Sunday, in which four members of NYPD’s Neighborhood Safety Team fatally shot a 29-year-old gunman who refused to relinquish a firearm, was a major talking point at the rally. For many, the need to cling to a gun in the face of certain death personified the epidemic of violence that pervades the city. 

“That shooting last night, those officers kept saying, ‘Drop the gun, drop the gun, drop the gun,’ each one of those offices, they have loved ones at home. They want to go home to their loved ones, and they want to make sure that the people in that community that weren’t carrying a gun can go home to their loved ones. So, we need to always keep that in mind when you put on that bulletproof vest. When you hug your wife, you kiss your child and you get in a car and go and face violence; You too want to go home to your loved ones just like all of us who want to go home to our loved one,” Mayor Eric Adams said. 

Agreeing with Congressman Espaillat, the mayor stated that far too many young people in local communities are harming one another.

Mayor Eric Adams. Photo by Dean Moses
Mayor Eric Adams addresses the crowd. Photo by Dean Moses

​​“Too many young people are losing their lives and even after the bullet hits the body of the individual, the emotional pathway of that bullet continues to rip apart the anatomy of our community. It brings about fear, it brings out terror, and it brings about pain,” Adams added. 

Adams emphasized that there is a small number responsible for committing crimes in these high-risk neighborhoods.  After meeting with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Espaillat learned that if the agency could trace the DNA of a weapon the estimated 50 to 100 trigger pullers culpable for homicides can be identified and brought to justice. 

“There’s a small number of people who are repeat offenders of carrying guns and using guns. We have to zero in on them and make sure that they get the assistance they need,” Adams said. 

A protester attempted to disrupt the rally. Photo by Dean Moses

The rally didn’t take place without its controversy. One lone protester, who identified himself as a longtime Bronx resident, heckled the event. Denouncing bail reform and calling for District Attorney Alvin Bragg to be removed from office. Police surrounded the man in an attempt to stop him from entering the park where the rally was being held. 

“I’m glad we marched from Washington Heights to the Bronx, but we all know that bullets know no borders, we are having gun violence is a major issue all across this nation and it’s trending upward,” Attorney General Letitia James said. “The Federal government, obviously, needs to address gun violence.” 

Attorney General Letitia James. Photo by Dean Moses

James highlighted the need to discuss bail reform, not as an isolated topic, but in conjunction with mental illness, pretrial services, a need to increase of correctional and probation resources and personnel, and other issues that plague the criminal justice system.

She also shared that her office working with the NYPD has removed 3,500 guns off of the streets, targeting gun and drug traffickers, gangs, and other violent criminals.

​“Please, please, please put down the guns and come to us and let us know what you need. It’s really critically important that you not spend your life in a correctional facility that we joined together, each and every day to stop the violence,” James implored.

Participants cried out for “Peace in our communities.” Photo by Dean Moses
Signs throughout the event called for an end to violence. Photo by Dean Moses
Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine. Photo by Dean Moses