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Anti-Gun Violence Walk Held As Part Of Harlem Week

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While thousands descended on the nation's capitol to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, New Yorkers pounded the pavement at Harlem Week events with a similar theme. NY1's Erin Clarke filed the following report.

Yvette Heyliger took to the streets of Harlem Saturday for an anti-gun violence walk because the stories of gang warfare hit home for her.

Two years ago, her daughter's family moved to a block that began seeing a lot of dangerous activity.

"There were barricades at each end of the street, around the clock beat cops protecting the neighborhood, regular patrolling of the perimeter. They made it a play street. They had a curfew," Heyliger said. "They're living in the wild, wild west."

Hundreds of others taking part in the event also had personal stories of crime affecting them. They say there's power in numbers and that's how they'll put an end to the violence.

"I'm here today so we can act and show people that it's not just one, two, three, four talking, it's everybody speaking up," said Jackie Rowe-Adams, co-founder of Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E. "It's time for us to take back our community."

The walk and an earlier Percy Sutton 5K run were meant to raise awareness about gun violence and even encourage those who may have an illegal firearm to give it up at a gun buyback at a neighborhood church during the event.

"People are invited to come out and, no questions asked, turn in their guns for cash, and it's very private and it's a way to get guns off the street," said Marko Nobles, second vice chairman of Harlem Week.

It was no coincidence that it all took place in New York as thousands visited the nation's capitol to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. That event, participants said, is an inspiration, and bares striking similarities.

"I think the anti-gun violence march that we're having today here in Harlem dovetails beautifully with the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington," Heyliger said. "We're still fighting for so many rights, the right to vote, the right to choose, the right to have our own lives and to have our communities be safe."

Just as those who marched in Washington in 1963 made change, folks in Harlem feel that they are, too, and they hope to make change for the better.

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