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National Action Network’s Youth Move continues to seek justice for the family of Eric Garner. Monday, Aug. 4, the weekly “Huddle” program, founded by Ashley Sharpton, focused on enlightening Harlem community members about gun violence within their neighborhoods, as well as the police brutality that has been affecting the Black community as a whole.
“This has been the second shooting in just a week and a half on Eighth Avenue, between 145th and 150th streets,” said the CEO of Street Corner Resources, Iesha Sekou, during the Huddle community update. “I don’t want to keep talking about all this violence. I would love to share some good news, but this is where our community’s at right now.” She explains that violence is happening in Harlem on an almost every-other-day basis.
On the other side of the East River, Brooklyn also struggles with guns, as the man who recorded the infamous Garner chokehold, Ramsey Orta, was arrested Saturday, Aug. 2, on a weapons charge. According to the Daily News, Orta claims that the police are trying to set him up and have been harassing him since the video gained national attention.
“This is just another reminder for our youth not to mess with guns,” said Huddle moderator Patrice Perry. “But his arrest has nothing to do with the video.” She stresses that the media will try to discredit the witness for his recent trouble with the law but that Huddle members should continue to support the Garner family. “Despite this young man’s past, the video speaks for itself,” said Perry.
At Monday night’s Huddle, the youth were warned about the power of the media and encouraged not only to keep up with current events but also to be aware that news, whether local or national, can be one sided. Young huddlers were told to explore the news for themselves, take advantage of their resources and seek out information. “Eric Garner was killed unlawfully, his case was ruled a homicide and the media will do whatever it takes to divert our attention away from that,” said 15-year-old Huddle member Victoria Pannell.
In the face of gun violence, Perry and co-moderator Deron Sobers asked the young huddlers to explore ways to become an “I” in a crowd of “We.” How does one create his or her own identity and tap into unlocked potential? “Don’t look for guidance from others,” said huddler Antonio Hairston. “They will try and put their limitations on you.” He explains that to reach one’s potential, individuals must seek “inward guidance” and trust the gut feeling that will often lead you in the right direction.
“Be careful what you allow to divert and consume your attention,” said Iesha Sekou. “When we divert our attention, we don’t look at the problem anymore.”
The Huddle program, available via live stream weekly on nationalactionnetwork.net., is hosted every Monday evening from 7 to 9 p.m. at 106 W. 145th St., Harlem. Food and refreshments are provided for Huddle attendees.