HARLEM, Manhattan — Community members gathered in Harlem Friday evening to denounce local violence against women after two women were attacked by men they didn’t know within days of one another this past month.
Friday night, the community is on edge and speaking.
“We’re targeted for our bodies, we’re targeted for voices, we’re targeted for our strength and that definitely needs to stop,” said 17-year-old Christina Smith. “I feel extremely unsafe, because I never know when or where somebody is gonna get attacked, I don’t know if it’s me or if it’s my mother.”
Shadina Smith, 29, was gunned down in her building’s lobby Saturday at West 150th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard after a brief altercation with her fiance at her side. He was also shot but survived.
Two days later, on 128th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard, a 31-year-old woman was assaulted by three men outside a Harlem liquor store. She was robbed, kicked and bitten on her forehead, authorities said. Earlier this week, the NYPD arrested a suspect.
The community is rallying Friday for the victims.
“The community is gathering, our elected officials, our young people, young men and older men,” said Street Corner Resources CEO Iesha Sekou.
Street Corner Resources wants to send a clear message, according to Sekou.
“Don’t just watch an argument take place, just if you can safely intervene, do that,” she said. “If you can’t and you think it’s going to escalate, then we have to do what we have to do and that’s why we have law enforcement.”
Friday’s rally is about more than just raising awareness and discussing alternatives to violence. It’s also about offering resources.
“I think one of the resources that we forget about, or we don’t often encourage, is mental health resources,” added Sekou.