Marching for the victims of gun violence

NAYABA ARINDE Amsterdam News Editor | 11/9/2011, 6:41 p.m.

There was an air of unified determination as several hundred residents, bikers and SUV club members gathered in Brownsville on Saturday afternoon, to march to confront inner city violence. They formed a convoy that traveled down to Cadman Plaza before walking behind caskets across the Brooklyn Bridge.

It was a gorgeous fall Saturday. Folks gathered in memory of Zurana Horton, the 34-year-old Brownsville mother of 12 who was gunned down by a young man who fired shots into the street from a rooftop late last month. A memorial to Horton with photos, flowers and candles still sits at the corner of Watkins and Pitkin avenues, where she was shot.

Saturday's mock funeral procession walked behind caskets, symbolizing the senseless killing of inner-city residents who were either targeted or caught in the crossfire.

From Brownsville to Broadway, "sick and tired" residents and families of victims joined anti-gun-violence activists in the march across the Brooklyn Bridge to City Hall. They continued on to the Occupy Wall Street camp, ending at the infamous Merrill Lynch bull statue at Bowling Green.

Delivering the opening prayer near the foot of the Bridge was Assembly Member Karim Camara, chair of the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus.

"We have lost far too many lives as a result of children killing children," said Camara. "The inspiration of this march was the death of Ms. Horton, but we also let every parent who lost a child to violence know that we are still walking with you. The sad reality is that we have not done nearly enough. There must be a greater commitment from the city, state and federal government to save the lives of children in our urban communities."

At the rally were mothers such as Oresa Napper-Williams of Not Another Child Inc. and Shenee Johnson of Life Support, both of whom have lost children to gun violence. They spoke passionately about their loss and why they continue to fight to save other mothers' children.

"Don't get it twisted," said Napper-Williams. "Just because it wasn't your child, your nephew, your niece does not mean that you were not affected indirectly. You were still affected. I want to thank each and every one of you for standing up today, for fighting for our youth. We cannot bring our babies back, but we can do what we can to make tomorrow a better day."

"We have to treat youth gun violence as the national epidemic that it is," said Camara.

"We are in the trenches every day. We see the violence and its effects, and we are committed to confronting it at every angle in all of the Brownsvilles in the city," said A.T. Mitchell, founder and CEO of Man Up Inc. "Saturday's march and rally was a great beginning for community activists trying to come together on one accord. The truck clubs, the organizations, the families and the victims of violence were unified to such a degree that it commanded the attention of the entire city."