“Prayers up; guns down!” blared from the megaphone and the crowd of supporters at the Peace and Prayer March held by Neighbors in Action (NIA) and Save Our Streets (S.O.S) Brooklyn on Saturday, August 3, in Crown Heights. Over 130 members of the faith community, including residents and clergy leaders, walked in unison down St Johns Place from Buffalo Avenue to Troy Avenue to denounce the recent escalation of gun violence in the neighborhood. Reverend Kevin Jones, who organized the march, led the procession as staff from NIA and S.O.S. Brooklyn lined the sides of the group and chanted “enough is enough!”
At each intersection along the route, the group stopped to join in prayer with five different community and clergy leaders. Invoking Christian scripture at each corner, the group was led in a Prayer Against Violence; a Prayer for the Victims of Gun Violence and Their Families; a Prayer for Youth; a Prayer Against Hopelessness; and a Prayer for Change. Council Member Laurie Combo, whose 35th District includes portions of Crown Heights, spoke to the group of supporters after prayers at the intersection of Schenectady Ave and St Johns Place. Accompanied by her son Prince, she remarked on how as a mother her most basic instinct was to protect her child; an instinct that everyone in the neighborhood shares regarding the youth in the community. “We must protect our children,” she said methodically, “we must protect our future.”
That corner was the same corner where young Jayden Brown, an 11-year-old Crown Heights resident, was struck by a stray bullet just five weeks prior. The shooter opened fire in into a crowd of people in broad daylight in the middle of the sidewalk. Jayden was not the intended target and spent the last days of his elementary school tenure in the hospital. He is still recovering from this traumatic incident at a rehabilitation facility in Brooklyn. Members of his family and community members from his school held signs and led prayers in support of his recovery.
Neighbors in Action and S.O.S. Brooklyn are grateful for all the organizations and individuals who joined us in preparation and execution of the event including: Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo, Bethany United Methodist Church, Beulah Church of the Nazarene, Nazareth Christian Fellowship, Holy Tabernacle of Prayer, Grace Tabernacle Christian Center, Mosaic Baptist Church, Peterson Temple Ministries, St. Rayfield Baptist Church, Greater Mt. Cavalry Pentecostal Church, Trinity Baptist Church, Prayer Mission Baptist Church, Cavalry Community Church, Reconcile Brooklyn Church, God’s Army of Prayers, St. Matthew’s Roman Catholic Church, Federal Latina American Chaplain Association, My Brother’s Keeper, and Repair the World.