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  • Approved for CNN

  • Click to view beachtar's profile
    Posted March 22, 2013 by
    beachtar
    Location
    New York City, New York
    Assignment
    Assignment
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Gun control debate: Background checks

    More from beachtar

    Harlem Rallies for Gun Control

     

    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     beachtar says he shot these photos on March 21 in Harlem. 'I heard about this event last week and since I'm very concerned about the issue, I thought I'd check it out. I think Congress has been dragging their feet terribly and is intimidated by the gun lobby, even in the face of overwhelming support for legislation by the American public. I wanted to do what I could to shine a light on the grass roots efforts taking place in this country. It may be the only way Congress can be coerced to act.'
    - nsaidi, CNN iReport producer

    If Tunisia was the flashpoint for the Arab Spring, then Newtown, CT was the tipping point for the current furor over gun control in America. And today another domino was tipped as residents of New York City’s Harlem neighborhood came out in strength to add their voices to the nation’s growing dissatisfaction with the gun laws now in place.

     

    While not singled out as THE reason for taking to the streets this day, the unmistakable and recurring theme was the need to protect Harlem’s children, who are disproportionately the victims of gun violence. Given this theme it was not surprising that the first speaker to address the thousands of people packing Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard from 122nd St. to 125th St. was a mother who had two children slain by handguns.

     

    The fact that their friends and classmates were being senselessly cut down was not lost on the youth of Harlem either, as they too turned out in huge numbers. It was tremendously encouraging to see kids kindergarten-age to young men in their twenties add their voices—kids who look like Treyvon Martin, kids that could be sons of President Obama.

     

    Adding muscle to the event and highlighting the charged nature of the issue, a veritable Who’s Who of New York City politicians were on hand. They included City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, ‪City Comptroller John Liu‬, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and the Rev. Al Sharpton.

     

    With the gentrification of so many of New York’s neighborhoods over the past 20 years, a certain complacency with regard to safety seems to have settled in. Alphabet Town in the East Village, Ft. Green, Prospect Heights and even Bushwick in Brooklyn all vibrate with creative energy. But the fact that people in Harlem—especially kids—are still being killed in unconscionable numbers has not escaped the residents here. Today they channeled their anger constructively for the whole world to see.

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