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Communities Across Tri-State Area Rally To Take A Stand Against Gun Violence: 'We Are Getting Ahead Of The Violence This Summer'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- As the uptick in gun crimes continues throughout New York City, communities took part in rallies Saturday, calling for an end to the violence.

"We are saying enough is enough. We are getting ahead of the violence this summer," said Stephanie McGraw, the founder of W.A.R.M., or We All Really Matter.

Several Saturday events across our region invited the public to take a strong stand against surges in gun violence.

First, a street fair in Harlem was set up around lunchtime alongside the King Towers on 114th Street at Lenox Avenue, steps away from the scenes of of two separate shootings on May 19.

"We had two shootings about two weeks ago right on the corner of Lenox. There's a playground there, and across the street, there's a sitting area with people hanging out," NYPD Deputy Inspector Amir Yakatally told CBS2's Dave Carlin.

"It was a reason to pick this block because we understand that there is a lot of crime and gun violence here, and we're telling our people, put the guns down," McGraw said.

She founded the group W.A.R.M., which partnered with the NYPD to reclaim the neighborhood with activities designed to replace fear with fun.

"They live here. This is their family. This is their home, and regardless of what's happening in the streets, it's not going to stop them from having a good time and putting out a positive message," Yakatally said.

"Most of the time, the violence is committed by a very small percentage of the people in this community. These are the people here who go to work every day, get up and do the right thing," NYPD Capt. Tarik Sheppard said.

Late Saturday afternoon in Paterson, New Jersey, an audience at a concert showed support for National Wear Orange Day to end gun violence.

"We are having the healing concert out here in the courtyard," said Liza Choudrhy, project director of the Paterson Healing Collective.

Live entertainment and block parties are brought to areas that are hurting.

"In Paterson alone, we've had a 45% increase, so this is a public health emergency," Choudrhy said. "This is our outcry to the community that we need to pay attention to this public health issue that's called gun violence."

Meanwhile, an evening anti-violence march began at the intersection of 143rd Street and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard in Harlem.

The NYPD says shootings are up by 69% in New York City with 588 incidents so far this year compared to 347 for the same period last year.

The march down to 125th Street honored mothers who have lost children to gun violence, showing solidarity and resolve to make meaningful change happen and end the violence and pain.

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