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Marching for the victims of gun violence

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

Meanwhile, Mitchell noted, "The follow-up and follow-through is even more important. If you don't follow through on the demands that the people made, it starts to looks like hogwash. The leadership has decided to continue the campaign to take caskets to different places in the city and the state until our demands are recognized and met.

"We want the mayor and the governor to take seriously the gun violence epidemic in our communities," Mitchell continued. "Not with an increased and aggressive law enforcement response; we need resources and services to occupy our youth and give them feasible alternatives and guidance. Massive unemployment in our community is definitely linked to the feeling of despair and hopelessness. The prison pipeline services upstate economies and lifestyles while it destroys the inner city-we understand that dynamic and we will continue to fight against that, too.

Marchers walked the bridge in silence but picked up their chants again on Broadway, including, "Peace up! Guns down!"

Grandmother Rene Donaldson held a poster her grandson had made with a "don't shoot!" theme. The staunchly proud Brownsvillian told the AmNews, "I feel that this one march is not going to change the situation here because Brownsville needs so many resources.

"The PAL is closed, there's nothing for our young people to do, so they are out on the street," she said. "I see a lot of organizations coming together though trying to combine their efforts to keep our children out of danger, and that is a good thing. This march and others like it are going to add power to the movement to bring about the change we need."

Donaldson, who also addressed the Black Solidarity Day event at Boys and Girls High School the following day, told the AmNews, "You see a lot of children in the neighborhood wearing these tags with the photographs of their friends who have been killed by gun violence. They are wearing them like necklaces to give respect to the deceased. I see 11- and 12-year-olds with them around their necks. They have replaced the cross."

Very few elected officials came out on Saturday-in fact, there were just three. State Sen. Eric Adams and City Councilman Jumaane Williams made brief appearances along the march route, while City Councilman Charles Barron rallied in Brownsville and marched on the Brooklyn Bridge.

"I hope the community comes together to be a little more organized," said Al Mathieu of Brownsville's Black Success Unisex Barbershop and Salon. "I feel that the community is more concerned, and the march brought a lot of attention to what is going on. My sister was robbed and killed in East New York in 1989-I felt it was my duty since I had experienced the effects of the violence to participate.

"I grew up here as well as having a business here, and I see a lot in the barbershop," Mathieu continued. "I see these young men who are out in the streets and I try to talk to them. A few of us do. But often you see that guys who come home from prison seem to get a lot more love than someone who comes home from college or the armed services.