Brooklyn residents stood united against gun violence Sunday. Joined by elected officials, local activists marched from the Cooper Park Houses in Williamsburg to Green Central Knoll Park in Bushwick.

“We need to stop the violence because we’re at a point where people are afraid to come out into their community and we need to reclaim those public spaces that are underutilized because the fear of violence,” said Juan Ramos, a longtime activist and chair of the North Brooklyn Coalition Against Family Violence. He said his life was forever changed when he learned to be the solution instead of the problem.

What You Need To Know

  • Roughly 100 people marched from the Cooper Park Houses in Williamsburg, the site of shooting earlier this month, to Bushwick

  • Activists say the key to combatting gun violence is community outreach and support, not policing and arrests

  • Senator Schumer joined the march upon entering Bushwick where he rallied alongside Brooklyn D.A. Eric Gonzalez and local assembly members and council members

“Seeing and losing so many friends when I was gang-involved in the streets, but I think the turning point was former Young Lords, former Black Panthers saying, ‘We care about you, we need you to step it up.’”

A former gang member himself, Ramos has seen far too many promising lives cut short.

“We fail to realize sometimes gun violence doesn’t begin in the streets, it begins at home. For me, it was the first time I chose to pick up a gun was to try to hurt the man who was hurting my mother due to domestic violence. I lost my brother at the age of 17 to gun violence. Not because he was killed, but because he chose to take a life.”

This show of solidarity comes days after a 23-year-old man was shot at the Cooper Park houses. And over the weekend, four men were shot on the street in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Sources tell NY1 the incident may be gang related. 

“We understand that gun violence has to be combatted in different ways and we’re never going to arrest our way out of gun violence,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez. 

Local activists said the key to curbing gun violence is boots-on-the-ground community outreach from people just like them.

Brooklyn Assemblywoman Diana Richardson helped lead the march, chanting in the streets. She said the key to curbing gun violence is boots on the ground community outreach from people like her. 

“When you see people who look like you, who speak like you, who have the same ethnic and cultural makeup as you delivering a message to you, that message if absorbed by you very differently,” Richardson said.

Shootings are up in 2021 with 979 so far this year compared to 867 at this point last year. But activists like Juan Ramos said, through love and support, the city can finally put an end to gun violence.

“Today is not necessarily a call out for those that are committing the violence, it’s a call in. We’re calling them in to be a part of the solution. We’re saying as a community, ‘We know you live here with us, but we need you to stop the violence.’”