By Dean Moses
On Saturday afternoon religious leaders marched in the streets of the Bronx in hopes of inspiring a more peaceful New York City.
In recent months, gun crime has skyrocketed throughout, with a shooting occurring almost every day. This is in addition to the civil unrest concerning protesters and social unease thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, leaving Manhattan and the outer boroughs in disarray.
In an effort to encourage a sense of reconciliation and to call for an end to violence, a group of faith leaders hailing from a variety of different denominations gathered at Grand Concourse and Mount Eden Avenue to march for peace at 1pm. This rally was the brainchild of Marion Frampton founder of TBS New Direction, a non profit organization that works with former gang members to make a positive impact on local neighborhoods. Frampton’s intention is to remind the community that there can be a peaceful resolution to the violent encounters, but the effort needs to be made by both the youth and the churches.
“Right in this area right here we got about 20 churches, how many of them are open to the public? How many allow our kids to come in for after school programs? The responsibility of our pastors and ministers and bishops is to go into the community and do what they can. They can’t help everybody, but they have to do what they can. Not talk about it, go do it,” Frampton told amNewYork Metro.
While Frampton holds some clergy members accountable in terms of the lack of outreach endeavors, he also claims that many young people are more difficult to positively stimulate due to new ideals installed by a currency driven society.
“We got faith leaders from all corners of the Bronx coming out but it is hard because the kids today, they don’t believe. The only thing they believe in is money because that is what they are told is important. The increase in crime has sprung up because of the [COVID-19] virus but our kids have been going through this long before,” Frampton added.
The uptick in crimes have hit the Bronx particularly hard, most notably with the discovery of two infant bodies in the courtyard of 1460 College Avenue and the countless shootings leaving their traumatic mark on neighborhoods already scarred by a history of gang disputes. By seeing an assortment of religions come together under one peaceful banner, it is hoped that individuals in danger of committing a crime will feel more comfortable reaching out to any of the local faith institutions, not just members of their own church.
An NYPD cruiser followed the marchers as they strode up the sidewalk carrying signs and chanting, “We want peace in our streets!” The demonstration culminated at the Bronx Borough Courthouse where free, rapid COVID-19 tests were available. Sammy Ravelo—a retired detective—who helped lead the march summed up the day’s ultimate goal by telling amNewYork Metro: “People don’t feel safe in the street anymore, we are just trying to do our part. If each one of us puts a little grain in the bucket, I think we can get something done.”