Last week, a 13-year-old boy was shot in the leg while playing basketball at Hunts Point playground, a violent escalation that police say started with words over the social media app Snapchat.
Another 13-year-old was arrested in the shooting.
“I’m out here now because we need to denounce violence, we need to de-escalate it,” Ayana Sheppard, 12, who spoke at the rally, said. “Because violence is getting too much in our communities. It’s getting to the point where kids are grabbing knives and stabbing each other in schools.”
Victor Rodriguez, 15, said the group has demonstrated and marched in support of their anti-violence message.
“I want to show kids that we have a future,” Rodriguez said. “No matter what, you can turn your life around, you can have a future.”
Renny Matthews and her son Anthony, who is 13, attended the rally, a way for her to lead by example, she said.
“We have older people who are still shooting also,” Matthews said. “So I think it’s really important to have things like this, just so that the kids see there’s another way to go, they don’t have to pick up a gun they can do something else.”
Her son felt that way too.
“Talk it like you walk it,” he said. “It means if you’re gonna talk it, do it.”