Surrounded by dozens and dozens of violence interrupters, hospital responders, and crisis management advocates, in commemoration of the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., Peace Week kicked off their 10th anniversary with a press conference on the steps of City Hall. The event brought attention to the impressive work which continues to inspire the youth and communities to take on peace and continue the fight against gun violence.

Peace Week uses the week Jan. 15-Jan 22 to host many events to inspire and promote peace in the community and the youth. One of the activities involve the Forgiveness Dinner, aimed towards bringing families together who have witnessed the devastating aftermaths of gun violence.

In attendance for the press conference were Public Advocate Jumaane Williams; Erica Ford, CEO and Founder of LIFE Camp; families of gun violence victims; anti-violence activists; NYC Councilmembers; Melinda Katz, Queens DA; Councilmember Vanessa Gibson; Jessica Mofield, executive director of NYC Office to Prevent Gun Violence; AT Mitchell, CEO and founder of ManUp!; Shanduke McPhatter, CEO and founder of G-M.A.C.C.; Iesha Sekou, CEO and founder of Manhattan Street Corner Resources; Ife Charles, CEO and founder of SOS Bronx; Kevin Livingston, CEO and founder of 100 Suits; Hassan “Giant” Yasin, CEO and founder, Bartendaz; Mike Perry, program manager at True 2 Life; and NYC Crisis Management System Violence Intervention Staff.

“It’s tremendously important for me to be here considering myself and my other colleagues here, Erica Ford and Hassan from the Bartendaz, as we were amongst one of the first organizers to think of such a concept and introduce it to the city of New York,” stated AT Mitchell, CEO and founder of ManUp! “So to see that it has grown over the 10 years consecutively is a wonderful experience and says a lot about the impact we are making on the city and the work that we are doing to reduce gun violence that is happening in our neighborhoods.”

Other events that took place during Peace Week are Open Mic Night, Operation Hood Peace Art and Crafts Workshop, Connect Monthly Faith Roundtable: Creating Cultures of Peace, Bowling for Peace, and Sip & Paint Time for Healing to name a few.

Approached by the activists as he walked into City Hall, Mayor Bill de Blasio invited the anti-gun violence leaders to a meeting on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s official birthday observation Monday, Jan. 20, 2020.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, Jan. 16, the Legal Aid Society Community Justice Unit under community organizer Victor Dempsey held an event to bring the organization and activists together. Invited speakers included Mike Perry, program manager of Truth 2 Life; Taylonn Murphy, founder and executive director of the Tayshanna “Chicken” Murphy Foundation; K’Bain, founder of 696 Build Queensbridge; Carolyn Dixon, CEO and founder of Where Do We Go From Here, Inc.; Nayaba Arinde, Amsterdam News editor and host and producer of Back to Basics on; and members of Man Up, Inc. and Life Camp.

“Every year, more than 30,000 Americans have their lives cut short by gun violence,” said Victor Dempsey, whose brother Delrawn Smalls was killed by NYPD police officer Wayne Isaacs in a traffic altercation in 2016. “The Peace Week Pledge is designed to reinforce each individual’s personal commitment to making Peace a LIFEstyle 365 days a year.”

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