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Harlem community leaders call for peace after shootings

Clergy, community leaders in Harlem call for end to gun violence
Clergy, community leaders in Harlem call for end to gun violence 01:56

NEW YORK - Clergy and community leaders came together in Harlem on Thursday to call for an end to gun violence after multiple shootings in the area.

The group gathered on West 116th Street between Frederick Douglass and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. boulevards, where a gunman injured four people late Tuesday.

"The gunshots went out, but here we are, Father, standing in unity," Bishop Chantel Wright said in prayer.

Pleas ranged from prayers to demands, as neighbors made a commitment to curb the rise in crime.

"We're here to unify. We're really here to saturate the ground," said Apostle Dr. Staci Ramos, who led the event.

Faith leaders led the way along West 116th Street, calling for the block to lock arms in solidarity against violence.

"How can a good Muslim, a good Christian, a good Jew, you go shoot somebody, take away his soul, and you call yourself a man of God?" Imam Souleimane Konate asked the crowd.

Deputy Manhattan borough president Keisha Sutton-James heard the shots from her living room Tuesday and sympathized with her neighbors' concerns.

"People are in danger, and I have to have this conversation just like everybody else does, have to have this conversation with our children, with our elders, about where and when it's safe to be," said Sutton-James.

Community Board 10 members acknowledged their roles as mentors for the youth of the neighborhood.

"Picking up a gun should not be the only way to solve a conflict," said CB10 district manager Shatic Mitchell. "There needs to be mediations, there needs to be other things. That should be no resort."

For violence disrupters like Iesha Sekou, stopping crime before it starts serves as a daily mission.

"We are not going to let our young go bad while we watch, because if we watch them go bad, we are just as bad as them going bad," said Sekou, founder of the Street Corner Resources organization.

Other organizations at the rally included Harlem Clergy-Community United & Beyond, Stand Against Violence East Harlem, Save Our Streets from the Bronx and the NYPD Community Affairs Bureau. These teams aim to show their strength on the street, promoting peace together.

"For everybody that has had enough, like me, we need to start now, and I know we can change things," added West 116th Street neighbor Jonesy.

Have a story idea or tip in Harlem? Email Jessi by CLICKING HERE.

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