This past Thursday, December 13th, ironically the night before the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, Melissa marched with over 70 young people through El Barrio/ East Harlem calling for peace in our streets and an end to the senseless violence among young people that we’ve seen in recent years.
Everyone could feel the energy and passion in the air as the teens and their family members chanted in unison, “Put the Guns down, Throw ya Peace Signs Up,” and “No more silence, Stop the Violence!”, amplifying their voices throughout the neighborhood.
The march ended at 106th Street and 3rd avenue where Melissa spoke, along with Reverend Sean Gardner from East Ward Baptist Church, and several youth about why they were there as well as their visions for positive alternatives to violence. Melissa told us about her experience attending a grief session earlier that afternoon for Aubrey Jackson, a teenager who died last week after having been in a coma for 6 months due to an assault in the Taft Housing Development. She reiterated that violence and death cannot be tolerated as the norm for East Harlem’s younger generation.
We could have never foreseen what tragedy would strike the very next morning just 60-miles north of our community. This tragedy will only strengthen our commitment to ending gun violence and standing up for peace in our community and across the country.