East Harlem gun violence rally looks to set the tone for a peaceful summer

EAST HARLEM, Manhattan (WABC) — Across the area, people came out in orange – the color of anti-gun violence activism to say enough is enough.

In East Harlem, a rally looked to set the tone for a peaceful summer, drawing a connection to the national outrage over gun violence, and looking to bring it home.

“And so yes, we are moved when we see a massive shooting like this. And it hurts us. But shootings happen every weekend in our neighborhoods,” said Rep. Adriano Espaillat.

Local elected leaders said the city can’t wait for Washington to find solutions.

“We are going to invest in cure violence programs…we’re going to invest in after school programs and job development and summer opportunities and youth sports. We’re going to do the things that we know give young people a positive push,” said Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine.

Reginald Douglas is a Harlem activist who wants to do just that. He spent 20 years in prison after getting lost in a world of street violence at a young age, and believes kids who are lost today can learn from those who have learned the hard way.

“Guys that are just being warehoused right now in prison, whose lives have changed, they’ve done time, they’ve been in jail 25 to 30 years. And they’re finished, guilty or not, they’re finished. They will never commit another crime. Their lives are being wasted. And these young men and women out here don’t have a role model because of such,” Douglas said.

Other activists are urging lawmakers to look at the whole picture of gun violence.
“Not just the shooter. Not just those that are on one side of the gun, but also address the therapeutic support and the mental support that those such as myself have had to face since the murder of our children,” said Oresa Napper Williams, founder of ‘Not Another Child.’

A major theme on Friday – after the orange t-shirts come off and gun violence awareness day and month are over, those fighting for tougher gun laws and to keep young people from resorting to violence will have a lot of work to do this summer.

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